A TRAIN FOR DURANGO was released at the height of the spaghetti western craze, a comedy piece three years before the Trinity pictures briefly pumped life back into a genre that was starting to get a bit shopworn. It was also a buddy film long before that name was even thought of for that type of film. Anthony Steffen and Enrico Maria Salerno play Gringo and Lucas, a pair of friends making their way back to the States after a misadventure in Guatemala.
Set in the early twentieth century at the time of the Mexican revolution, the two are trying to wangle a pair of tickets on the train to Durango. Because of the revolution that has broken out, tickets are hard to come by. A scalper has all sorts and offers them a pair of third class for twenty pesos. Dead broke, they are told they could perhaps sell their horses to a man the scalper points out. They get exactly twenty pesos and the price has gone up another twenty. Once again the scalper is helpful and sends them to a place to sell their guns. Obviously being taken, they know it but are anxious to get out of there, they get the twenty they need and are on their way.
Hungry, wanting a smoke, dead broke, we see them working the train. Lucas “stumbles” against an old woman with a fruit basket and comes away with an apple. He cozies up to a kid to get a bite from a hunk of bread when the boy isn’t looking. Gringo talks to a pair of well dressed Americans hoping for a smoke. They aren’t to anxious to speak with him(he’s dressed in dirty, ragged clothing). Gringo cringes and cries out when one tosses a half smoked cigar out the window.
He spots a very attractive redhead, Helen(Dominique Boschero) he’d seen getting on at the station who’d smiled at him and slips up to her. She offers him a cigar and he begins to flirt, never wondering why she is speaking to such an unkempt man.
Unknown to them at the time, the train is carrying a large amount of gold on it’s way to the Colt company for guns for dictator Diaz to fight his war against Pancho Villa. The train is attacked by three gangs, led by El Lobo, Heraclio, and El Jefe, banded together to take the gold. The gold safe is taken, Helen is taken, and everyone else but our two heroes slaughtered. Gringo plays dead and Lucas locks himself in the water closet car when the shooting breaks out.
Gringo and Lucas go about robbing the dead, finding plenty of cash, fancy clothes, and jewelry. Not to mention a pair of keys on the two well dressed Americans that open the heavy duty safe holding the gold. When near capture, they find an interesting and safe place to hide those keys. They swallow them and must wait for their reappearance.
They have two objectives in mind. Rather, each has one. Gringo wants to rescue Helen, Lucas just wants the gold. They turn up posing as a rich American wanting to buy back his fiance taken by the bandits.
The rest of the picture is taken up by a series of incidents as they try to accomplish their goals. They get in and out of trouble, aided most of the time by a mysterious American named Brown(Mark Damon) that keeps turning up at perfect times to rescue them. He drives a red automobile and is dressed in fine clothes. One time he happens to have a Gatling gun, another time dynamite. We are never sure of his motivation for all this until the end of the film.
A fun little comedy and still full of the violence and high body count of the typical spaghetti. Directed by Mario Caiano, known for his comedies of the same period, this one is different from most spaghetti westerns, being busy with dialogue all the way through. The music is entirely appropriate for a comedy and is done by Carlo Rustichelli. One thing I noted and is heard in the trailer, though in Italian, are passages that seem to have been “borrowed” from the William Tell Overture. You decide.