Go with God, Gringo

Director Mulargia and screenwriter Musolino had both worked on Perché uccidi ancora?, but this was their first real collaborate effort. Musolino also appears in the movie as the main villain. It was also the first spaghetti western of Dutch actor Roel Bos, playing under the pseudonymous Glenn Saxson, who – like some will notice – doesn’t ride a horse during the entire movie. Producers thought he had a great face for westerns, but it turned out that he was a hopeless horseman . In his second spaghetti western, Django shoots first, he does some horse riding, so I suppose he quickly took a few lessons after finishing this movie.

Some have suggested that Mulargia & Musolino were trying to present a spaghetti western version of John Ford’s Stagecoach. Saxson is thrown in jail for a crime he did not commit (the murder of his brother) and escapes with his friend Mexico (Pedro Sanchez, as ebullient as ever) and four other inmates, among them Aldo Berti (as deranged as ever). They take the stagecoach (but not to Lordsburg), get into trouble, kidnap a lovely señorita, are attacked by Mexican bandits, and have an explosive card game. The stagecoach thing is bookended by the story of Saxson clearing his name: in the opening scene we witness how his brother is shot by Musolino and his men, in the protracted finale he gets even with the piece of vermin by annihilating the entire gang.

Some have sustained that Vayas con Dios had the potential to be a minor classic in the line of Mulargia’s own (in)famous El Puro. I don’t know, I never was a big fan of El Puro, and in my opinion Go with God, Gringo is only a middle of the road spaghetti. Mulargia is a hit-or-miss director, who often hits and misses in one and the same movie. The opening scene is good (and Musolino has an excellent face for villainous roles in spaghettis) and there are a couple of neat ideas, such Spalla who plans to take revenge on the rooster who woke him up every morning at four o’clock (but befriends the animal instead). It’s also nice to have a couple of pals called Gringo and Mexico. But many scenes seem needlessly protracted (and that for a movie with a running time of no more than 80 minutes!), among them the finale, and we also get this incredibly silly scène with the stagecoach passengers fighting of an attack by Mexican bandits with the help of dynamite.

We’re still in the early days of the genre and I suppose Saxson was cast as a sort of ersatz Giuliano Gemma. If they had ever planned a real remake of Ford’s classic, Gemma would have been the ideal actor to take over the Ringo Kid part from John Wayne, and this movie has some of the easygoing charm of Gemma’s early outings, with Saxson playing a good-natured, chivalrous guy who must clear his name and gets the girl in the end. Felice Di Stefano’s music is a nice, but Morricone is never far away.

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