Thursday, March 24, 2016

Blindman (1971)

          Energetic and fast-paced but also silly and a little bit trashy, this spaghetti western enjoys minor cult status because ex-Beatle Ringo Starr plays a supporting role. Yet Blindman is moderately enjoyable on its own merits. The plot is typical spaghetti-western weirdness, predicated on outlandish schemes and superhuman abilities, suggesting that star Tony Anthony (who also provided the story) studied the genre. Beyond the usual tropes of overwrought music and wild camera zooms, Blindman includes themes of heroism, pride, and revenge, all delivered by way of a lone-wolf protagonist who’s an artist with his six-shooters. As promised by the title, said protagonist is sightless, so every scene in which he hits a target is inherently ridiculous.
          Vigorously directed by Ferdinando Baldi, the picture begins with Blindman (Anthony) rolling into a small town looking for trouble. As in, he’s there to find a man named “Trouble.” Apparently that fellow knows the location of the 50 women whom Blindman purchased. To get Trouble’s attention, Blindman repeatedly shoots the bell of a church tower. After Blindman learns that the women were kidnapped by a criminal named Domingo, Blindman embarks on an adventure to recover his “property.” Turns out the ladies were imported from Europe as mail-order brides, so it’s not as if either Blindman or Domingo wants a personal harem; rather, they hope to sell the women for profit. Much of the picture comprises back-and-forth scenes during which Blindman takes the women from Domingo or vice versa, with Domingo’s brother, Candy (Starr), caught in between.
          Is this stuff as insane as it sounds? Yes and no. On a narrative level, Blindman is bizarre, since very little of what happens onscreen could actually occur in reality. Yet on an experiential level, Blindman lacks the fever-dream quality of, say, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti-western masterpieces. Anthony and Baldi take time to set up characters and situations, as if doing so will make the flick seem more credible. It does not. That said, Anthony, Baldi, and their collaborators muster a handful of decent action scenes, so the film moves along nicely. Still, there’s only so high this picture can fly, because the acting is merely serviceable, and because the film’s treatment of women is grotesque. Just because the story is set during a historical period when women were treated poorly doesn’t justify the incessant abuse of female characters or the myriad nude scenes.  

Blindman: FUNKY

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...

This would almost be my favorite Euro-western, save for the repulsive abuse of the brides. It's funny, exciting & beautifully mounted, but...those scenes, particularly when the woman are attacked in the desert, are unwatchable. Even given the times it was made in, what were they thinking?