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La_Banda_J.S._Cronaca_criminale_del_Far_WestIt’s ben a couple of years since I covered A Tomas Milian spaghetti western. One of the giants of the genre, he more or less accidentally stumbled into it. Born in Havana in 1933, the son of a Cuban general arrested when the latest dictator took over(later committing suicide in prison), he left Cuba to pursue acting, first studying in America, then going to Italy. He appeared in a string of intellectual films achieving only modest success. Deciding to return to the States, he took a role in an early spaghetti, THE BOUNTY KILLER, and received an unexpected boost to his career. Milian ended up staying in Italy for twenty-five years.

In SONNY & JED, he plays Jed Trigado, a Robin Hood type, abrasive250px-Sonny_and_Jed at times, but has a good heart toward a village of poor in Mexico. Most everything he steals ends up supporting them. Susan George is Sonny, the daughter of a grave digger, with dreams of being an outlaw. The pair hook up when Sonny helps Jed escape a trap set by Sheriff Franciscus(Telly Savalas), or as Jed calls him Franciscus The Bald.

The two men have a past we don’t learn about until halfway through the film. Despite the Wanted Dead or Alive posters, The Sheriff wants Jed alive, passing up several chances to kill him outright, allowing him to escape. The hatred is palpable and drives the man even after being blinded in an accident halfway through the film.

The relationship between Sonny and Jed borders on the ludicrous at times. More hate in the beginning, love develops along the way. Jed is a thoroughly unlikable fellow in the picture as he treats her like dirt most of the time. But when he finds she’s still a virgin, he suddenly can’t touch her.

51492The film has it’s comic moments throughout.the sight of Jed lying on his back drinking milk straight from the cow brings a smile to one. As does the marriage followed by then robbing the preacher.

Political moments pop in also. Milian seemed to specialize in playing revolutionary types in many of his westerns. Here politicians are worried about the string of robberies they pull, after all it’s an election year you know, and come up with a plan to offer amnesty to any outlaw that brings them in dead or alive. Of course there is no amnesty.

Another spaghetti veteran, Eduardo Fajardo, has a small part as the Donjed-sonny harassing the poor village Jed supports and hosting a party for his first anniversary, which Jed crashes and spirits off the wife, mainly because she has big breasts, not like the skinny Sonny.

Sergio Corbucci directs this entertaining western, though it doesn’t rank with his major efforts. His career slowed down after a falling out with another spaghetti giant, Franco Nero. And musi by the master Ennio Morricone.

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