ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 10
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar- Day 10
In the spirit of decorating for Christmas, Christmas has been used as decoration for countless movies that aren't really "Christmas Movies," but movies that take place during Christmastime. Some flicks set their action smack dab in the middle of the season just to give their film a different look or feel from others in the genre. Some get ingrained in our brains as being part of the holiday that we watch them every year as part of our seasonal viewing. And some seemingly exist on their own merit and hardly anyone notices that it takes place during Christmastime.
Warning: Spoiler Alert! As much as I try not to completely spoil movies for those who have not seen them yet, I undoubtedly do just that more often than not. I will probably say too much here. If you don't want anything ruined, stop reading, give it a watch, and come on back. I'll wait.
ICFH 2022 Advent Calendar December 10- A Pistol for Ringo/ Una Pistola per Ringo (1965)
Why yes, Virginia, there is a Spaghetti Western Christmas movie.
With the holiday quickly approaching, Ringo, aka Angel Face (Giuliano Gemma) is released from prison after it was decided his killing of one of the Benson brothers was in self defense. When the the rest of the Benson boys come looking for him to even the score, Angel Face guns them down and is quickly apprehended until the murder of the other four Benson brothers can be determined self defense.
Meanwhile, bandito Sancho (Fernando Sancho) and his men rob a bank, kill a bunch of innocent people and eventually seize Major Clyde's (Antonio Casas) hacienda for the holiday. The Major's daughter, Miss Ruby (Lorella De Luca) has the home decked out in sparkling festoons and decorations. She's in love with Sheriff Ben (Jorge Martin), who concocts a plan to release Angel Face if he'll infiltrate Sancho's gang and save his girl.
From here on it's Gemma's show, as he is one of the most charming, endearing pistoleras from the era. He's cocky and always working an angle, but somehow we are always rooting for him.
Once Angel Face goes mano e mano with Sancho, the film rockets to a satisfying climax.
The Gringos were hung by the chimney with care
A Pistol for Ringo is easily my favorite Spaghetti Western because of the chemistry between Gemma and Sancho. Seriously, before there was Bruce Willis as John McClane and Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, there was Gemma and Sancho. Sancho is a perfect villain, larger than life, loud, savagely charming, and he's a cold blooded killer, but there's still something likeable about the guy. If he wasn't stealing and killing, you'd probably want to hang out with him. (Like Gruber.)
Sancho beats and tortures Angel Face among the festive holiday decorations.
Gemma spouts off some classic lines, my favorite being, "Early to bed, early to rise, gets a man shot, between the eyes."
I also love Manuel Muniz as Tim, an old cuss who hangs around the Sheriff's office. Maybe he works there. I don't know. He's hilarious.
De Luca as Miss Ruby is gorgeous and not a push over by any means. Sancho's lady is the always fetching Nieves Navarro, another tough as nails gal whose presence elevates the production tenfold.
The music is courtesy Ennio Morricone and Maurizio Graf performs the opening credits ballad "Angel Face," which you'll no doubt be humming for days after it gets into your head.
The first lines of dialogue in the film are two cowpokes wishing one another a "Merry Christmas." It's cool and weird and I never considered gunslingers took a day off to exchange gifts and put up Christmas trees.
A Pistol for Ringo was so successful in Italy when it hit theaters in May of '65 that a sequel, The Return of Ringo, made it into theaters by December of '65. (That one does not take place during Christmastime.) It features almost entirely the same cast but they play different people. Gemma still plays Ringo, but he's like a different Ringo. It's strange, but I love that one too.
BONUS WILD WEST CHRISTMAS TREAT:
Annie Oakely- Santa Claus Wears a Gun (1956)
Little shaver Tagg Oakley (Jimmy Hawkins) is excited to see that Mountain Man Sharpshooter Snowy Kringle (Stanley Andrews), who looks like Santa Claus, is coming to town to perform. As soon as the old codger gets off the train Tagg is bothering him and asking to see his trick shot. To everyone's surprise, he pulls off an impressive display of marksmanship with an old flint rifle.
D.K. Rodney (Keith Richards) introduces himself to Sheriff Lofty Craig and his gal Annie Oakley (Gail Davis). He's a lawman tracking Snowy Kringle for robbery. They can hardly believe it, but Rodney insists the old man poses as a trick shot artist but is actually a master criminal who can snag an army payroll in no time flat.
That night, after the payroll is robbed and Rodney insists it's the old man, he whips up enough circumstantial evidence to get old Snowy tossed in the hoosegow. Lofty's not convinced the man did it and sets out to snoop around. Tagg and Annie keep an eye on the old man in the jail. He's hiding something, but its news to him that he has an Army payroll stashed somewhere.
Lofty chases down a tough looking cowpuncher with boots displaying the initials SK but a saddle with the initials SJ carved into it. Hey, wait a minute!
When Annie learns how Snowy performs his amazing trick-shots she releases him, knowing the man could not commit any crime.
Lofty brings the real criminal to justice and Snowy Kringle gets renewed interest in his talents when Annie gives him credit for figuring it all out.
This third season episode of the 50's TV show premiered on December 2, 1956. It actually received a home video release on VHS.
What can I say? It's not very Christmasy and Kringle looks less like the actual Santa than he resembles and even more broken down version of the drunk, Department Store Santa Art Carney played in the 1960 episode of The Twilight Zone, The Night of the Meek.
But it's sweet, it's wholesome and it has a lot of heart.