Sabata (1969)

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Lee Van Cleef stars in the first of the Sabata films. Here he plays cat and mouse games with the leaders of a town who have attempted to steal an army payroll. Sabata stops their scheme and then attempts to blackmail them for his silence, a price that climbs with each failed attempt on his life.

This is a fun western full of great action, twists and wisecracks. Van Cleef is the perfect western hero, a man of few words (and most of them smart ass remarks) he is clearly up to something, although what it is is never fully apparent. He is enjoyably helped by Carrincha a large civil war hero who is forever broke, and his pal a tall silent acrobat. The pair make for one of the best sidekick teams I’ve ever run across. Also wandering through the film is William Berger as Banjo, a man of decidedly mercenary loyalties, who is Sabata’s equal in cracking wise, and who is forever waiting for the right angle to act act upon.

I really liked this movie a great deal, even if it really isn’t clear whats going on at times. The main flaw of the movie is that after the first twenty minutes the film simply becomes attempts to blackmail the town fathers by our hero and their attempts to kill him. There’s nothing wrong with this since the see saw battle is excellently done, rather it just engenders a sense that you’re missing something since you would think something more should be happening.