Saturday, 31 January 2015

My Name is Nobody (3¾ Stars)

Looking back, it seems to me we were all a bunch of romantic fools. We still believed that a good pistol and a quick showdown could solve everything.

When people talk about spaghetti westerns, the first name they think of is Clint Eastwood. He actually starred in very few westerns, and purists claim that his later westerns aren't really spaghetti westerns, although I find them very close to the genre. The dividing line is thin. For me the quintessential actor of the spaghetti western genre is Terence Hill, the tall Italian with blond hair and blue eyes. Well, Terence's mother was a German, which is the side of the family that he got his looks from. I'm not sure how many spaghetti westerns he made, probably about 20 in the 1960's and 1970's. He hasn't completely abandoned the genre, since he starred in "Doc West" as late as 2009.

While Terence's first westerns were tough and gritty, his later films incorporated increasing amounts of humour. The spaghetti western genre was beginning to parody itself. "My Name is Nobody" also contains comedy elements, but it's more of a tribute to the end of the western age, in the same way as "The Wild Bunch", which it frequently references. For instance, at an Indian cemetery we see Sam Peckinpah's grave.

The film shows the old world giving way to the new. Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) is a 50-year-old gunfighter who wants to retire to Europe. He's tired of constantly being challenged by young men who want to prove they're faster. Nobody (Terence Hill) is a young man who admires Jack. He says that before Jack retires he should have one last gunfight, taking on 150 outlaws at once, so that he will go down in history as a legend. Jack thinks this is foolish, but Nobody keeps on encouraging him.

The chemistry between the two main characters is apparent, and it probably reflects the feelings that the two actors had for one another off-screen. What disturbs me is that Nobody is a simple-minded person, or at the very least he pretends to be simple-minded, succeeding in his schemes by luck rather than skill. Nevertheless, it's a good film that will be enjoyed by western fans. I may watch a few more of Terence Hill's films over the next few weeks.

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