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SABATA
ADIOS, SABATA
RETURN OF SABATA
200px-the_sabata_trilogy_dvd_cover
The Sabata trilogy of spaghetti westerns were released in 1970-71 in America. Lee Van Cleef starred in the first and third, with Yul Brynner taking up the role in the middle picture. I wondered about that and research lead me to an interesting fact. Van Cleef had been offered the second picture, but was already committed to the role of Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven Ride, a part played by Yul Brynner in the first of that series.

SABATA

The Man With The Gunsight Eyes is a nickname given the character. His only weapons seem to be a four shot derringer and a rifle that can take a barrel extension on the end for long distance shooting. Sabata uses a trick several times in the film of tossing a silver dollar at something, a coin slot, a trigger. He never misses.

Sabata is a mysterious gunman of questionable morals who foils a bank robbery in Daughtery, Texas and returns the safe with $100,000 to town just as the army was about to launch a search. He learns that some of the “good” citizens of the town had planned the robbery and starts blackmailing them to keep quiet. Every time they try to kill him, the price goes up.

He’s aided by Carrincha, a fat alcoholic who’s good with knives, and his friend Alley Cat, a very acrobatic Indian. There’s also another gunman in town, Banjo because he carries a banjo with a rifle built into it, who’s playing both sides off against each other.

The body count is high in this one. I didn’t count them myself, but found a listing on the ‘net. Fifty for Sabata, ten for Banjo, and twenty-two by others.

Good film. Highly entertaining.

ADIOS, SABATA

This didn’t seem to fit into the trilogy. Yul Brynner dressed differently and had different weapons from the Van Cleef version of the character. A little research showed the original title was INDIO BLACK, but was changed when the first film was a big success. The Italian title was Indio Black, sai che ti dico: Sei un gran figlio di… roughly in English, Indio Black, you know what I’m going to tell you…you’re a big son of a…

His weapons are a two barrel derringer and a sawed off rifle he wears on his hip, ala Josh Randall from Wanted Dead or Alive. Never seen one like it though. It has a clip that feeds in from the side, clicking across as each bullet is fired. He also carries saddlebags stuffed with straw to pad vials of nitro glycerin.

The time is during the reign of Maximilian I in Mexico. Sabata is hired to steal a shipment of gold for the revolution that an Austrian colonel is moving. He’s aided by four men: Ballantine, a blond American painter who seems to be playing both sides, a fat revolutionary(same actor who played the fat alcoholic in the first film), an acrobatic flamenco dancer, and a Mexican who is deadly hurling golf-ball sized iron spheres with his feet.

Just as they are about to spring their trap, someone else, apparently another band of Mexicans, attacks the wagon and guards. On the wagon, the gatling gun is suddenly turned on the guards. They jump in and wipe them out, to learn they are Austrians in disguise. The box is filled with bags of sand. The colonel has already stolen the gold and plans to blame it on the revolution.

So the five decide to steal it back.

Entertaining as well.

RETURN OF SABATA

Lee Van Cleef is back as The Man With The Gunsight Eyes working as a marksman in a circus act. At one town they play, he runs into Clyde, a lieutenant to his major during the war, who owes him $5,000. He decides to stay and collect, running awry of the McIntock family who have a stranglehold on the town, taxing everything heavily on the premise of expanding the town.

It’s all a scheme to bilk money from the townspeople. Sabata learns the money being held in the town bank is counterfeit, while the real money has been converted to gold coins. Blackmailing them, he tries to extract money, though it’s all a plot to find the gold and return it to the town.

The same fat, bearded actor(Ignazio Spalla) is in this one, as well as one of the villains(Gianni Rizzo) that have appeared in all three films, and an acrobatic actor(Aldo Conti) in two.

Gianfranco Parolini, the director of all three, apparently likes acrobats and odd weapons, as they’ve been in all three. In this one, one of the two acrobats has a long elastic band he hooks into his feet and turns himself into a human slingshot, deadly accurate with small iron balls.

Liked this one as well.

In researching these films, I learned these are the official Sabata films. Apparently, though, in Italy, whenever a film franchise was popular, other companies took advantage, copying the name. WANTED SABATA, ARRIVA SABATA!, and WATCH OUT GRINGO! SABATA WILL RETURN were released with different actors. Apparently rights laws are different in Italy.

All three are worth checking out. Fine examples of the spaghetti western genre.