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  Return of Sabata The Fastest Draw In The West
Year: 1971
Director: Gianfranco Parolini
Stars: Lee Van Cleef, Reiner Schöne, Giampiero Albertini, Ignazio Spalla, Annabella Incontrera, Jacqueline Alexandre, Aldo Canti, Vassili Karis, Steffen Zacharias, Pia Giancaro, John Bartha, Gianni Rizzo
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 3 votes)
Review: It looks as if ace gunfighter Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) is in a jam, as he is stuck in a barn with other gunmen who are out for his blood. However, he has extricated himself from tougher situations than this, and picks them off one by one until there is only a single assassin left - but he has the upper hand, pointing out to Sabata that he has no bullets remaining. Little does he know that the pistol the gunfighter is using has a barrel in its handle, and he is shot in the face... but wait, it's all a show, as what Sabata is doing now is performing as part of a circus. He still has his thirst for money, however, and when he meets his old lieutenant (Reiner Schöne) he recalls a debt he is owed...

For the third Sabata film, Lee Van Cleef returned to the role, except that technically it was the second Sabata film because the Yul Brynner-starring Adios Sabata wasn't actually made as part of the series, and only had the name appended to it later in English-language prints. Anyway, this was Van Cleef back in the saddle as the wily anti-hero, as the message here would seem to have been that everyone is a crook of some stripe or other, it's just that some crooks are worse than others. Sabata, of course, being the decent kind of crook who didn't hurt anybody.

Well, he didn't hurt anybody who did not deserve it, as seen by the gunfights that pepper the film. Although similar to the initial instalment, here the plotting comes across as even more complicated, and while you can just about follow the double dealings on first viewing, after you've seen it the details may become blurry in retrospect. Essentially it boils down to the old tale of the corrupt family with an iron grip over the western town, and with their taxes set so high they have amassed a wealth of gold that nobody except the head of the family, Joe McLintock (Giampiero Albertini), is aware of where it is.

Sabata gets a sidekick in this one, and he's Clyde the lieutenant, but we're not sure how far to trust him as he appears to be out mainly to feather his own nest instead of helping the townsfolk out of their predicament. For some reason you don't get the impression those townsfolk are all that bothered one way or another who is in charge, and there's a slightly defeatist air about the film's sense of morality, or lack of it for that matter. But mainly the overriding tone is one of self-satisfaction, as everyone in this comes across as very pleased with themselves, which is all right in the case of Van Cleef, always a charismatic performer, but more grating in the case of everyone else.

For quite a lot of the film there is a strange obsession with cigars to the fore, as if this was sponsored by a tobacco manufacturer, so you get cigars with magnets in them to rig a roulette wheel, cigars with poison darts in them (though Sabata doesn't kill anyone with his), and talk generally returning to the subject of the cancer sticks with baffling regularity. If you're not distracted by this, then perhaps you'll be more enthralled with the plotting which starts with the protagonist basically having a game of paintball, then going through the motions of showing off, thereby illustrating to us that he is the best shooter in the world, probably, and finally, with brief pauses to hit a man in the bollocks with a see-saw and suchlike, track down that gold. It's all pretty average as these things go, and while there's nothing blatantly wrong with it, it's not quite distinctive enough overall with every scene in the same style. Music by Marcello Giombini.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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