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They Call Me Trinity and Trinity is Still My Name, are two amazing Western movies that had me hooked from the first moment I watched them. From the first scene where Trinity (played by Terence Hill) is dragged by the horse on the travois, which is usually used for oading heavy items, is still a wonder to watch today. Bud Spence plays his brother, Bambino, who is less than happy to see his brother. But the two form a partnership to face the bad guy of the piece (even though both of them are criminals themselves) and make an unlikely alliance of anti heroes. This is also one of the few films where I will admit that the sequel is as much fun to watch as the original, having some many monumental scenes in it. You can pick these two movies up relatively cheaply and, even though the quality isn't great, it is still very much worth a watch. Some bigger budget films have been made that didn't even have a fraction of the charm that these movies have, so my advice is to grab them (you can probably get them both for less than £7, which is a bargain in my opinion) and give them a go. You won't regret it.
If the 50s were the golden age of the American western then by the early 60s the genre was definitely in the doldrums. However in the mid to late sixties the western received a massive boost from an unusual quarter, Italy. Sergio Leone made a series of films known as the Dollar trilogy that became known as Spaghetti westerns and as these became hugely successful around the world a new western genre was born. The early spaghetti western were characterised by their gritty realism (the people looked dirty and sweaty rather then clean-cut as in the earlier US westerns, the towns were dusty and run down) as well as graphic violence. By the early 70s there were many substandard versions of Leone classics and this along with competition with the growing popularity of the martial arts movies meant that the genre was losing its appeal. What saved the European western or at east delayed its demise for a few years was the release of two films made by former cameraman and spaghetti western veteran Enzo Barboni using the name of E.B. Clucher. The difference was that these were comedies. They Call Me Trinity (1970) and Trinity is Still My Name (1974) were still recognisably spaghetti westerns but the violence was replaced by slapstick and the heroes were comedic parodies of the classic characters like The lone Gunslinger or the man with no name. When released these films were huge box office successes and broke many box office records worldwide.
As previous spaghetti western these were made primarily in Italy using Italian cast and crew and a few better known US actors to give them added appeal in the US market. The stars of both films were blue eyed blonde haired Terence Hill (real name Mario Girotti) and big grumpy and hairy Bud Spencer (real name Carlo Pedersoli, a former Olympic swimmer). These films made them into international stars. In the earlier of the two films we also see Farley Granger (who starred in Hitchcocks Rope and Strangers on a Train) having a great time hamming it up as the evil Maj. Harriman.
They Call Me Trinity (1970)
Trinity a sort of hobo gunslinger turned bounty hunter rides into a small town only to find his brother Bambino as the sheriff. Of course his brother is not a real sheriff but an outlaw who broke the real sheriff's leg leaving him for dead and took over his identity in order to hide out from the law. He also has an eye of rustling the local landowner horse before he leaves and isnt keen on having his brother around for a share of the spoils. After a series of improbable event the two join together to help a community of Mormons fight off an evil land-owner determined to chase them out of the valley he wishes to own.
Trinity is Still My Name (1974)
Trinity e Bambino, return as the two bungling outlaw brothers. After they promise their dying father to become better criminals they are mistaken as federal agents by a crooked arms dealer and decide to exploit the situation to their financial gain. Through a series of misadventures the two have to hide out in a monastery leading to plenty of knockabout humour.
The films appeal lies greatly in the on screen chemistry of the two stars. Trinity played by the good looking blonde haired blue eyed Terence Hill is the epitome of laid back coolness to a point of laziness he dresses like a tramp but is always attractive to the ladies and of course he is impossibly quick with a gun to the point of embarrassment for any would be gunslinger that cross his path. By contrast Bambino played by Bud Spencer is like a big grumpy lumbering bear. Always in a bad mood and often exasperated by his brothers antics he uses brute force over brains to sort out problems, many a dispute finishing with him hitting the baddie on the top of the head with a massive fist to instantly knock them out. Despite their appearance and manner and the fact that they are both outlaws both Trinity and Bambino are good at heart and as is seen in They Call Me Trinity they end up on the side of the weak and oppressed against the big bad greedy land baron. As we see in the second film where they try and become good bandits even here their underlying sense of good gets the better of them.
Both films are pure escapist comedy action adventure and dont require much more analysis than that. They are really irreverent parodies of the earlier Spaghetti westerns featuring plenty of toilet and slapstick humour not that dissimilar from the later Blazing Saddles (remember the beans and campfire scene!) An example of this is the opening scene of the first film when the dust cloaked sleeping Trinity is dragged in to town by his flea bitten horse that promptly wakes him. He goes to the local hostelry and proceeds to devour a pan full of beans (from the pan!) a loaf of bread and a bottle of whisky rounded off by a loud burp is a classic. The films in their own way try to expand the western genre and bring it to a wider and younger audience. In fact the films are fairly suitable for everyone who like a bit of slapstick comedy. The violence is in contrast to previous more serious spaghetti westerns very toned down and is mostly of the cartoon or A-Team type, no one really get hurt apart from having a sore head. Children of all ages especially young teenagers will love these films and the reason for a PG certificate stem form the comedy violence and a few slight sexual innuendos, which will be missed by most of the younger audience in any case.
Usually when we get a DVD package featuring two films we expect that quality have been sacrificed for quantity.
This release from 2003 by British company Nouveaux Pictures is far from that. It features unedited Wide screen anamorphic, Technoscope versions of both films with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and the quality of the print and sound is great. Its a good idea to incorporate both films in one presentation, as they are both great fun and complement each other well whilst being good value for money. But beware there are some worse quality versions out there too.
Surprisingly for a cheap and cheerful DVD we do get a fair amount of extras too. The obvious scene selection and interactive menu is there and in general presentation and navigation of the DVD is fine. In addition we get short interviews with the two stars, which include some nice background and anecdotes about their making of the films and spaghetti westerns in general.
Rather less impressive but still worth a look is the on screen facts list and selected filmographies of the cast and finally some stills from the films to round things off. There is no subtitle or language choice with this version but as these are Spaghetti westerns the films have been dubbed with American voices since both actor and much of the rest of the cast were Italian. The dubbing as usual is not great but it is a feature of the genre and certainly the exaggerated sound effect for the fight sequence similar to the martial arts movie do add a bit of extra fun.
Overall if you are a fan of slapstick comedy of the Blazing saddles kind and the spaghetti western genre these films are worth seeing and if youve never seen Terence Hill and Bud Spencer in action this is the perfect place to acquaint yourself with tow of the biggest comedy stars of 70s European cinema.
Region 2 encoding (Europe, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East including Egypt).
Catalogue Number: NPD1011
This double film DVD (total runtime 250 minutes) is available from Play.com for £14.99 delivered although you might find it cheaper in some bargain bins.
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© Mauri 2005