CJAMANGO(pronounced Cha-mango) is not a terribly original film. It owes more than a little to the few years earlier A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. The tall, stoic stranger, two groups feuding over stolen gold, and Cjamango playing them off against each other.
Ivan Rassimov(billed as Sean Todd) plays the title role and all he’s after is the gold he’d won in a poker game that was stolen from him. He’d won a pile of cash and was leaving, promising to return when the other players struck it rich again. One of them, a barrel chested Mexican wants to play one more hand. He picks up a pair of double saddle bags sitting on the floor and offers it up. Bags of gold dust, worth way more than Cjamango’s cash. When pointed out, the Mexican says “It’s only gold.”
He deals out one hand, cards face up and after four cards holds three kings, Cjamango has a possible club flush, which has the bandit gloating. Cjamango gets his flush and we never see his opponent’s last card, the man declaring him a cheat(though he dealt the cards). Before Cjamango can claim his winnings, two gangs burst in and start shooting. Cjamango isn’t wounded much, a crease, and spies the town drunk, Hernandez, being paid off with a bottle of liquor for informing on the gold in the saloon.
That’s where our hero goes first, the old man’s home, to find out who stole his gold and cash.
The two gangs are lead by El Tigre(Piero Lulli) and Don Pablo(Livio Lorenzon), two veterans of the genre. the two men own ranches and they’ve had a falling out. The gold has disappeared and each swear the other has it.
Cjamango hangs around, visiting each, and declares that he wants his gold. Don Pablo sends a quartet after him and they jump him in the saloon, quickly dying in a shootout. Cjamango finds himself helped by a mysterious stranger, Clint(Mickey Hargitay), who has been nosing around, claiming to be a liquor salesman. He has a black bag with samples. But he’s pretty good with a gun.
There’s a beautiful woman, Pearl(Helene Chanel), daughter of the town drunk, who’s on the periphery just trying to survive.
There’s also a small boy, Manuel, all alone after Do Pablo pulled a trick on the town, grabbing the boy’s father, declaring him with the plague, and burning him alive. It empties out the town, they never give a reason why Pablo wanted the town free of any but his men and himself, and no one whats to help the boy, fearing the plague. Pearl is the only one who cares, paying one farmer money to take the boy to a convent. he swears he will, only to dump the boy outside of town. The boy constantly follows Cjamango around begging for help and gets right annoying at times. Cjamango shows he’s not quite the stoic loner that he presents in these sequences.
Cjamango sets up El Tigre, spilling to Don Pablo about a shipment of guns, and while they attack the wagon and El Tigre rushes to get his guns back, he finds his gold in El Tigre’s locked building, hiding it.
Everyone is after him, Don Pablo finally grabbing him. Clint shows up to inform that information to El Tigre, who grabs him to check that out. Once he rescues Cjamango, he plays the boy off for the location of the gold. The only way he can get the location is to tie the boy to a fence post with a bundle of dynamite roped into his hands and lighting a long fuse.
It all sets up a battle royal with Don Pablo’s men, who raid the ranch, bodies falling everywhere. Cjamango and Clint escape, working together to get at the gold. Don Pablo and two men take off with it, followed by El Tigre and two of his gang, the six ending up back in town for the final showdown. Cjamango and Clint are not far behind for the final showdown. There we learn who Clint really is, certainly not a liquor salesman.
Quite enjoyed this one, but one must be a fanatic about the genre(I am).
A few thoughts.
This was Ivan Rassimov’s first lead role and he has a certain style that serves him well. He appeared in a number of cult films later in his career.
Shot on a shoestring budget, there wasn’t a drop of blood shed anywhere despite the large number on men shot to death. No red blotches on shirts or the woman shot in the back. Another hilarious thing was most of the males wore bell bottom pants(a brief fashion rage for a couple of years in the mid-sixties). It jumps around quite a bit also, the editing sloppy, as Cjamango is sen lying on the saloon floor at the beginning, then next scene riding up to Don Pablo’s ranch. Direction was by Eduardo Mulgaria and a decent music score by Felice Di Stefano.
One final note. The actor playing the kid, Valerio Fioravanti, grew up to be an Italian terrorist that was accused of the Bologna training bombings, though he denied being involved.