Tepepa is a 1968 spaghetti western that starred Tomas Milian as Jesus Maria Moran, aka Tepepa, as a revolutionary leader in the war just before WWI. The great Orson Welles appears here as Colonel Cascorro, a leader in the Mexican army, and John Steiner as Doctor Henry Price, an English physician.
Tepepa had fought hard in the revolution. He believed in his leader’s ideals. Medera says “The rich will be less rich and the poor less poor.”
The war has been won, but nothing has changed. The peons had been supposed to get a piece of land for their own. Tepepa and his men had turned their weapons in to begin working their own property. Then Colonel Cascorro returns from Europe to reclaim his ranch.
When the peons had protested, Cascorro returns with an army and slaughters everyone but Tepepa, arresting him for a show trial, then execution by firing squad. Must keep everything legal.
Meanwhile, a young doctor, Price, shows up in his motor vehicle, claiming he’s making a study of criminals and can spot one by the shape of his skull, the jawline, the forehead. When Cascorro refuses to delay the execution so he can study the “criminal”, the young man boldly drives his car between the firing squad and their target, Tepepa hopping aboard as they make their escape.
With the army in hot pursuit, Tepepa is shooting, Price is driving, and they are talking. Price freely admits he rescued him so that he could kill him. We don’t know why, but as the movie unfolds, we learn the reason.
Tepepa escapes, the car is destroyed, and Price is captured. Tepea in turn rescues him.
From that point, Tepepa sees no recourse but to start another revolution. His leader may have forgotten his ideals, but he hasn’t.
This was not the best spaghetti western I’ve seen, but certainly not the worst. It has a certain charm and the ending I didn’t see coming. At least in the form that it did.
Directed by Giuilio Petroni from a screenplay by Ivan Della Mia and Franco Solinas, the music score is by the always reliable Ennio Morricone.
Worth a look. Here’s the trailer: