Category Archives: Spaghetti Westerns

THE CHRISTMAS KID (1967)

Christmas Kid

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

I always think of this bizarrely-themed Spaghetti Western as The Gospel According to Sam Colt or Paul’s Letter to Smith & Wesson. Our title gunslinger is played by Jeffrey “Captain Pike on Star Trek” Hunter. As Jesus in the movie King of Kings, Hunter’s youthful appearance brought on ridicule from wags who called the film I Was a Teenage Jesus.  

Once again Jeffrey plays a character who is born in a manger at Christmas and gets visited by three wise (well … no) men. The Christmas Kid‘s half-assed Jesus parallels continue from there in sporadic fashion. The little babe – called Christmas Joe at first – grows up to be a philosophical boy who practices pacifism. 

Christmas Kid 2When our hero’s home hamlet of Jaspen, Arizona becomes a Boom Town after copper is discovered, the place turns into a proverbial web of sin and vale of tears. Michael Culligan (Louis Hayward), the greedy town boss, builds an empire for himself out of crime and greed as the copper rush continues.     

This being a western, the day comes when Christmas Joe must strap on a gun and pin on a badge for a three-year mission – I mean term in office – to fight the forces of evil in Arizona Territory. Now called the Christmas Kid our hero spreads the Good News of Gunplay as he blows away various bad men who leave him with no other choice.  Continue reading

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LEGACY OF THE INCAS (1965)

Legacy of the IncasFrontierado is coming up on Friday, August 5th! In keeping with the seasonal feel, Balladeer’s Blog has been showcasing various neglected westerns.

LEGACY OF THE INCAS (1965) – Guy Madison and Fernando Rey starred in this Llama Western which would be guaranteed to make some of the emotional cripples of the 21st Century faint at its “Colonialism Squared” plotline. To me the staggering tastelessness of it all makes it more funny than pernicious.

Rey plays President Castillo of late 1800’s Peru. He has a Jim West-style assignment for his  gunslinging agent, nicknamed Jaguar. His birth name is Wutuma, and he’s the last of “the proud and noble Incas”. His job is to eradicate a gang of Native Peruvian bandits and guerillas who are robbing and killing all non-natives as part of their bid to resurrect the ancient Inca empire to rule Peru! Continue reading

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THE MAN CALLED NOON (1973)

Man called NoonFrontierado is on Friday August 5th!

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined some of the big names among the fictional gunslingers of Spaghetti Westerns. I’ve covered the original Django, Sartana, the Holy Ghost, Dynamite Joe, Harmonica and even Tony Anthony’s character the Stranger. Here is a look at the Italo-Western hero Noon. 

The Man Called Noon (1973)

The Story: Long before Robert Ludlum’s amnesiac secret agent Jason Bourne came this film. Based on a Louis L’Amour story The Man Called Noon featured Richard Crenna as the title character, an amnesiac who has incredible abilities with a gun but no knowledge of his past.

Just like Jason Bourne in the later novel, our hero Rubal Noon must piece together who he really is, why he has access to some large sums of money  and why various dangerous factions want him dead. He also struggles to survive while all this chaos closes in on him. Luckily his instinctive skill at killing keeps him alive, albeit increasingly confused.   Continue reading

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NEGLECTED SPAGHETTI WESTERN HEROES

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Jeffrey Hunter as The Christmas Kid

Frontierado is coming up on Friday August 7th!

In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined some of the big names among the fictional gunslingers of Spaghetti Westerns. I’ve covered the original Django, Sartana, the Holy Ghost, Dynamite Joe, Harmonica and even Tony Anthony’s character the Stranger. Here are a few of the lesser lights from Eurowesterns.

Christmas Kid 2THE CHRISTMAS KID

Film: The Christmas Kid (1966)

The Story: Jeffrey Hunter portrayed this memorable gunslinger, who got his nickname from the date of his birth, December 25th. His nickname was always bitter-sweet, however, since his mother died giving birth to him on Christmas.

The Kid is a pacifist in fictional Jaspen, AZ during a copper rush. Our hero reluctantly takes up a gun and at first seems like he might be corrupted by the faction led by the crooked town boss (Louis Hayward) but eventually his girlfriend Marie dies as the violence escalates. The Christmas Kid redoubles his efforts against Hayward. Good but not a great film. The Kid deserved more than one screen appearance. Continue reading

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THE ORIGINAL DJANGO MOVIES

FRONTIERADO IS COMING AUGUST 7th!

The best Django, Franco Nero, played the gunslinger in Django, Django Strikes Again and (wink) Django’s Grand Return

Like Tarzan, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes the melancholy bounty hunter Django has been presented in various incarnations and with wildly differing continuity. And like soccer the Django movies have been an enormous success almost everywhere except the U.S. 

The great Franco Nero created the role in 1966 in a film so popular in Europe (but banned in the UK for its still- controversial violence) that it spawned a legion of sequels. Some sequels starred Franco Nero or others in the role of Django, while others were just unrelated westerns whose distributors simply  attached a phony Django title to them, sometimes redoing the dubbing to have the lead character referred to as Django, other times not bothering.

Original Django poster Balladeer’s Blog helpfully presents a synopsis of the films featuring (legitimately or not) the most durable Eurowestern hero of them all. And, yes, if you’re wondering, the western bounty hunter Django was indeed the reason George Lucas named that outer space bounty hunter Jango Fett.

DJANGO (1966) – In 1867 Mexico Django, a veteran of the Union army in the Civil War, seeks revenge on Major Jackson, the Confederate officer behind his wife’s death. Jackson and his still-loyal troops, now turned  outright Klansmen, are, like so many other fleeing Confederates, fighting for the Mexican Emperor Maximillian in the war to keep his throne.   Django battles Jackson’s hooded thugs, even ambushing dozens with the Gatling Gun he keeps concealed in a coffin. When he’s out of men Major Jackson calls on Maximillian’s Imperial troopers for reinforcements and prepares to face Django and the Mexican rebel troops he’s fallen in with. For a detailed review of this unforgettable film click here: https://glitternight.com/2012/08/08/the-original-django-and-two-blaxploitation-westerns-a-primer-for-django-unchained/

DJANGO SHOOTS FIRST (1966) – AKA He Who Shoots First. Django comes into an enormous inheritance from his murdered father, an inheritance he learns he must share with his late father’s unscrupulous business partner, Mr Cluster. Django starts blowing away a host of bad guys as he tries to piece together who is responsible for his father’s death.

DJANGO, A BULLET FOR YOU (1966) – Django uses his guns to protect a group of downtrodden farmers from the villainous, land-grabbing town boss of Wagon Valley. He Continue reading

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SEX-BOMB CASEY JAMES WITH SOME MORE OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Casey James, Balladeer's Blog's Official Movie Hostess

Casey James, Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess

With the Frontierado holiday coming up this Friday August 1st the spectacularly beautiful Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer’s Blog, helps us get in the seasonal mood with another look at some very odd Spaghetti Westerns.

Dynamite JoeDYNAMITE JOE (1966) – The title hero is a Jim West- style government agent who dresses well, gambles even better and is a deadly hand with … dynamite. This oddity features Dynamite Joe on the trail of stagecoach robbers who have stolen a fortune in gold. Naturally he beats all the bad guys without once drawing (or carrying) a gun but by hurling sticks of dynamite with giddy abandon, regardless of the collateral damage. This is NOT a comedy, which makes it much funnier. The theme song tells us Dynamite Joe is “dyna-mighty”. I’m serious. 

BlindmanBLINDMAN (1971) – A blind gunslinger, wearing a sign around his neck that says “Blindman”, is a deadly shot based on his extraordinary smell and hearing. This was one of the many Spaghetti Westerns adapted from Japanese movies, in this case the series about the blind, sword-wielding hero Zatoichi. There are blatant comedic elements in this movie, which costars Ringo Starr, or else it would have made the main list. A knowing sense of humor dulls the Bad Movie Appeal. See also Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears (1972). Continue reading

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GORGEOUS CASEY JAMES AND ANOTHER OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S OBSCURE SPAGHETTI WESTERNS

Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer's Blog

Casey James, the Official Movie Hostess of Balladeer’s Blog

THE FRONTIERADO HOLIDAY IS FRIDAY AUGUST FIRST! We’ve all got our painted rocks on various bits of furniture around the house, we’ve all got our potted cacti with the toy gun-belts slung over them and for those old enough to drink there are Cactus Jacks and Deuces Wilds to be slammed down. In some homes families and friends will be gathering around to watch the official Frontierado Western, Silverado.

In the buildup to this major holiday I periodically reviewed my favorite weird westerns so to give us all a few more chuckles here’s one more, presented by the legendary Casey James, Balladeer’s Blog’s Official Movie Hostess.

JESSE JAMES’ KID (1966) – In my review of The Price of Power earlier this Frontierado season I mentioned how fond I am of those Spaghetti Westerns that distort the facts of the American west more outrageously than even our own home- grown westerns do. Jesse James’ Kid makes The Price of Power look like the writings of Herodotus.

In this deranged western which used to populate the 3am to 5am movie slot on television stations across the country we get the old-school bad movie fun of dubbing that never comes close to matching the movements of the performers’ lips. And that’s just the start. This film tells us that Billy the Kid was Jesse James’ son … yes, Jesse James’ son. And not only that but young Billy witnesses his “father’s” fatal shooting, which in this movie is not done by Robert Ford, but by Bat Freaking Masterson!!! Continue reading

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