By 1969, the spaghetti western genre was still very popular, but growing gray whiskers around the edges. The standard plots had been beat to death and something new was being sought out by directors. The director of THE FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO was Ferdinand Baldi, a former college professor, and he chose to retell the Greek tragedy of Orestes in a western setting. Two thirds of the trilogy is used, the murder of the father, the son getting revenge for his father’s murder, and the son’s penance for the deed is left off.
As the film opens, we see a lone rider moving along a trail in a valley. All around him, we see men on horseback watching. One aims a rifle and knocks the rider out of the saddle. Two converge on the apparently dead man and one chastises the other for killing him, only to receive a protestation of hitting him in the leg. At that moment, the “dead” man rolls over and shoots the man who shot him. Covering the other, he quickly dispatches the four other men as they ride in to get him. He finally tells the lone survivor, Miguel, to warn his mistress to quit sending men after him unless she wants them dead.
He rides off, passing two signs on a post reading Mexico and Texas. He’s heading toward the arrow pointing to Texas.
The clip below has a bit of the opening, plus a few scenes from later in the film.
We next see him approaching a ranch where a man is filling in a grave. Our rider hasn’t eaten or drank any water in several days, plus the wound, and he falls off the horse in a faint. It doesn’t take us long to realize there’s some sort of connection between the two men. The rider, Raphael(Peter Martell), recognizes a black shawl with a red rose on the back and knows he’s found the men, by sheer accident, he’d come to Texas to find.
The rancher is his old childhood friend, Sebastion, who’s memories are sketchy about his past. Raphael fills him in on that past, shown in the form of flashbacks. Sebastion had been the son of a great General of the Mexican army. He’s returning from a battle with the French and is murdered by his wife and her lover, Sebastion’s older sister seeing the whole thing. The boy is spirited away in the night by a servant, probably a nanny, and raised in Texas. It was she, his “mother,” that was being buried when Raphael rides up. Raphael, though Sebastion’s friend, was of the servants. He’d loved Isabel, the sister, and her mother had married her off to a storekeeper to keep Raphael away from her.
The pair make a pact to ride to Mexico to seek revenge for his father’s murder, Sebastion’s duty.
Filmed in Italy, the film has a bleak look, but plenty of action and the finale, amid a burning mansion, is well staged. Not a bad western.
One thing I didn’t pick up on in the western was the reason for Raphael’s reticence to have sex with various prostitutes propositioning him. He always had a sad, helpless look on his face at these times, I put it down to his love for Isabel. But the review on the Spaghetti Western Database says he was castrated. That was never revealed that I recall, but may have been part of the Orestes story.
Don’t know. But I did like this one.