LIFE IS TOUGH, EH, PROVIDENCE? is a decidedly odd film in the spaghetti western genre. Genre star Tomas Milian goes against type in this western comedy. He usually plays the dark, brooding, extremely violent at times anti-hero in most films. Here he’s bounty hunter Providence, a well-known figure who works hard at his craft. He has facts and figures at his fingertips about those he pursues. He’s dressed like a dandy and looks for all the world like a cut-rate Charlie Chaplin: skinny, a bowler(which has a detachable brim made of metal and is used as a weapon), little mustache, an umbrella.
Providence travels around in a converted Wells Fargo stage pulled by four horses that are trained to respond to a dog whistle. In the course of the film we learn it has steel shutters that can be cranked up over all the windows and doors, can spew black smoke at pursuers, has an ejection seat, and can drop cans at the feet of horsemen chasing him. Not to mention trap doors on the roof and floor.
In a plot line borrowed from Sergio Leone, he turns an outlaw named Hurricane Smith(Gregg Palmer) in for the five thousand dollar reward, helps him escape, then captures him again for the reward in another state. That Hurricane Smith is an unwilling partner, at least at first, in this venture matters not to Providence. The second time he’s helped escape and tracks down Providence, we learn it wasn’t the bounty hunter that helped him get away that time and sets us to wondering who’s the third party in this little game.
The pair get involved with a remnant of the Confederate army still trying to fight the war(we learn also that grant is President at the time of the film), a beautiful saloon girl who knows Providence and is not above ripping him off, and counterfeiters.
The film is full of slapstick fights and, although at times a lot of bullets fly, no one is ever shot, another stark difference from most spaghetti westerns.
Whoever did the English dubbing slipped a lot of jokes that probably weren’t in the original Italian. A couple of examples: when Hurricane Smith catches up to Providence in one sequence, the bounty hunter is doing yoga. Smith wants to fight and Providence responds, “Peace, not violence say the yogi- Berra!” Another time when Smith is chasing Providence, who has the bag of money under an arm, tackling him, he yells, “You’re washed up, Joe Namath!”
If one likes a flat out comedy, you can’t go wrong with this one. Couldn’t find a trailer, but here is the theme song by the great Ennio Morricone: