Terence Hill is conman Joe Thanks, the genius of the title. The two partners are Steam Engine Bill(Robert Charlebois) and Lucy(Miou-Miou) and the dupe is Major Cabot(Patrick McGoohan). The plot of this one is simple. Con the Major out of three hundred thousand dollars and restore to the Indians their hunting ground by a treaty.
Thanks comes by his genius by his adaptability to any situation. It doesn’t matter what goes wrong, he manages to work it into the con.
Steam Engine and Lili work their own cons and Joe hunts them down for this latest one. They’ve worked together in the past. Steam Engine is a half breed, but continually denies his Indian half. Both men are sweet on Lili and she plays on that sometimes, but Steam Engine is ultimately the winner on that front.
Major Cabot is an Indian hating Cavalry officer who had already fleeced the Indians out of prime land. He has an aide, Sergeant Milton(Raimund Harmstorf), who carries out his orders and shares in the loot. He has a plan to steal the three hundred thousand as well.\
Part of the plot involves an outlaw named Jelly Roll(Pietro Vida) and one is never quite sure which side he’s on, such is the elaborate plot Joe has laid out.
It all boils down to a running battle between Joe and Steam Engine, and I mean running on foot, over the cash to a huge explosion with a railroad blasting a hole through a mountain that the two men run right into, to Major Cabot seing his money go up in smoke after he’d already signed a treaty giving the hunting grounds over to the Indians.
Klaus Kinski was in the early part of the film as gunman/poker player Doc Foster that Joe embarrasses to raise a few dollars, then disappears completely. I thought that was a waste of talent.
The plot was developed by Sergio Leone and he, in fact, directed the opening scene of the movie. But he was ultimately unsatisfied with the result and had his name removed from the credits. It was the last western he ever worked on. Ennio Morricone wrote and directed the music for the film, utilizing bits from My Name is Nobody and siliar strains from the Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, not to mention a classical adaptation, and even a bit from the William Tell Overture. It was quite well received even if the western/comedy didn’t do well in the States. Quite popular in Europe though.
I didn’t think it was a bad movie, a little better than average.