This movie from 1963 is one of the earliest of that genre that came to be known as spaghetti westerns. Filmed in Spain, at this stage, it was still aping Hollywood westerns. To put it in perspective, Clint Eastwood was still doing Rawhide and Sergio Leone had only directed one film. The style wasn’t there yet.
It starred Richard Harrison in the title role(Gringo in Spain), a B-movie actor that specialized in sword and sandal epics in Europe. He liked to joke that his main contribution to cinema was turning down the role in A Fistful of Dollars, instead recommending Clint Eastwood for the part.
GUNFIGHT AT RED SANDS is a revenge story. Harrison plays a man adopted by a Mexican family and getting the nickname Gringo from his friends as a child. He’s been away four years fighting with the revolutionaries in Mexico. Tired of war and killing, he’s headed home.
Nearing his family’s ranch, he spots three horsemen racing away, only to discover his father murdered, his brother shot, and their gold, laboriously panned from a creek, stolen.
Things have changed in the four years Gringo has been gone. The old Sheriff is gone, replaced by a young fellow named Corbett(he seemed to have a thing for vests as I noticed about four or five different ones as the movie progressed). Wearing a fancy looking two gun rig, one notices early on that he seems unwilling to investigate, swearing they were probably Mexicans and across the border by now.
Maria, the saloon owner who Gringo seems to have a past with, is a harder woman than he remembers and hangs with that Sheriff. Gringo wants to leave the investigation to the law, but circumstances won’t let him as he’s ambushed by one of the robbers, who he kills.
The final showdown is where the American title comes from I suppose, though I don’t get Red Sands. The town is named Carterville.
I liked the film which featured Ennio Morricone’s first western score.