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  Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe, A Thanks For The Memory
Year: 1975
Director: Damiano Damiani
Stars: Terence Hill, Miou-Miou, Robert Charlebois, Patrick McGoohan, Raimund Harmstorf, Klaus Kinski, Piero Vida, Rik Battaglia, Mario Valgoi, Mario Brega, Friedrich von Ledebur, Jean Martin, Clara Colosimo, Ferdinando Cerulli, Benito Stefanelli
Genre: Western, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: There's a man lying in the middle of the street, taking a nap, and a group have gathered to see, half amused and and half jeering. The man's watch alarm wakes him up and he gets to his feet to confront the group, introducing himself as Joe Thanks (Terence Hill) and politely telling their leader that he's happy to meet the village idiot, drawing his pistol. It turns out he's looking for someone, a great gunfighter called Doc Foster (Klaus Kinski) who is in town to assassinate a colonel - but not if Joe has any say in the matter...

Actually this film doesn't start like that at all, it begins with a scene at a trading post that doesn't appear to be of the same jokey tone to the rest of the film, perhaps because it was directed by a certain Sergio Leone who was the uncredited producer on A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe. The Italian filmmaker did not otherwise stamp his personality on the rest of the movie, one of the last spaghetti westerns made in the seventies as the genre was going out of fashion in much the same way was happening throughout the rest of the world, and was indeed the final western that Leone worked on.

The film's biggest problem was not anything in the action or storyline, but the fact that the negative had been stolen and held for a ransom that was never paid, so what we see here is the result of cutting together alternative takes, meaning it was awarded a poor reputation that even now it struggles to shake off, as if what we were seeing was the second best version. Actually, for a comedy in the mould of Hill's Trinity films or My Name is Nobody, it was not too bad even if director Damiano Damiani was too intent on making the humour on the silly side.

Luckily those gags are not too intrusive, and Damiani does exhibit a serious tone in his anti-racism scenes. It is the native Americans who are the butt of this ill-treatment, and Hill marks himself out as a hero to them by championing their cause, although this is not entirely clear until the ending. Before that the strong hints are there, with Joe's best friend Steam Engine (French-Canadian musician Robert Charlebois) refusing to acknowledge he has Indian blood in his veins, something that is the source of humour when in spite of his protests he can do that old cliché of placing an ear to the ground to work out what is approaching.

If this veers a little too closely to being a slapdash mess, then at least we have the benefit of an interesting cast, which includes some cult faces such as Miou-Miou as Lucy, the love interest who isn't really and manages to conjure up a few giggles even through the dubbing. The other star - apart from Hill - with a cult following is Patrick McGoohan, who makes a late appearance as the villain, a major who has stolen three hundred thousand dollars from the Indians and means to keep it. There has been speculation over whether McGoohan is dubbed by another actor in the English language version of this, but apparently that weird voice is all him. If you don't mind such bits as Joe shooting off Kinski's hat without even touching his gun, then you should get on fine with this; it has an odd sincerity for all its foolishness. Music by Ennio Morricone, which sounds like he's using a stylophone.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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