Saturday, September 17, 2011

Adios, Amigo (1976)

Adios, Amigo represented a new pinnacle of behind-the-scenes power for football player-turned-action star Fred Williamson, because it was his first effort as a star-producer-writer-director (he had played these roles on previous films, but never all at once). Gratifying though it might be to indicate that Williamson rose to the occasion of becoming a fully realized auteur, Adios, Amigo is a cheap, dull, and sloppy Western boasting virtually nothing of interest except for the presence of Williamson and costar Richard Pryor. The action-comedy plot features Pryor as a fast-talking bandit who roams from town to town stirring up trouble, usually leaving fugitive Williamson to take the blame. Adding some pseudo-structure to the picture is a recurring device of the action freezing into paintings while the funky title song plays, which evokes the ’60s TV show The Wild, Wild, West. Williamson obviously intended to make a farce about one dude making life difficult for another dude, but instead, all he does is make life difficult for viewers. Pryor has a few fleeting moments of wiseass charm as a hustler trying to work every angle he can imagine, but he’s dragged down by the meandering, repetitive script. (One example of the witless writing: Pryor’s character is named “Sam Spade.”) As for Williamson’s acting, when he’s not being overshadowed by Pryor (which happens in most of their shared scenes), the star swaggers through one interchangeable vignette after another, beating the crap out of thugs, showing off his six-shooter skills, and (of course) driving white women wild. Playing yet another in his litany of super-cool characters, Williamson was well on the way to self-parody when he made Adios, Amigo.

Adios Amigo: LAME

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