Ruthless Four, The / Ognuno per sé (1968)

3.5 out of 5

Gold fever provides a pretext to set four prospectors against one another in this enjoyable, Giorgio Capitani helmed, Fernando Di Leo penned Euro oater. A West German and Italian co-production, this study in white-hat eschewing, greed inspired, amorality is provided with additional layers of meaning through a thinly veiled gay subtext that defines the relationship between two of the protagonists. One portrayed by a scheming, cowardly, submissive George Hilton, and the other being Klaus Kinski as The Blonde; a fascistic, faux priest in sunglasses.

They, in turn, are countered by an alliance of convenience between two, seasoned, former comrades; portrayed by Van Heflin and Gilbert Roland.

Oriented more toward character study and Machiavellian calculation than reliance on action set pieces, the highlight of the film is, by far, a gun battle at a windswept abandoned mission. It features a quirky little decoy. One involving a Reservoir Dogs-esque dance!

Kill and Pray / Requiescant (1967)

3.5 out of 5

While the revenge theme of Requiescant is far from original, the notion of Lou Castel playing a quirky bible-quoting, gunslinging, Mexican orphan, itinerant protagonist is certainly a little more novel.

However, compared to many titles of its ilk, Requiescant is possibly a little more heavy handed in the Marxist monologues department. So, for those sensitive to such matters, the Pier Paolo Pasolini co-written screenplay may prove to be a little too much. However, those who are able to overlook the blatant agitprop would find that there is a solid, and at times fun, western here. Indeed, Carlo Lizzani's Requiescant, with a story that involves Mexican insurrectionists, would probably make an excellent title to play back-to-back with Damiani's A Bullet for the General.

Requiescant features Mark Damon. Here, he is simply delightful in his turn as the proto-fascist, self-styled aristocrat baddie, George Bellow Ferguson. His performance would probably, in itself, justify the price of admission.

Juliet of the Spirits / Giulietta degli spiriti (1965)

4.5 out of 5

Moving away from the stark, downbeat neorealism of his celebrated earlier work, here Federico Fellini finally embraces Technicolor with Juliet of the Spirits. And what an eye-popping experience it is!

Rooted in both psychoanalysis and the surreal, Juliet of the Spirits nevertheless provides just about enough of an anchor in the real to make some sense of the unrelenting assault of psychedelic weirdness that comprises the brilliant, and busy, final third. Here, a dazzling and dizzying display of fragmented symbols convey the thoughts, dreams, fears and fantasies of a superstitious cuckquean played by Giulietta Masina.

Flashback exposition of a traumatic school play presage the recurring appearance of nuns and the resurrection of a school friend. While guilt and fear are expressed in a semiotic relationship with the iconography of Christian martyrdom. Complex, yes! Yet, while this is something of an enigmatic feature, demanding patience and concentration throughout, both should be rewarded in abundance.

Naughty Nun / La bella Antonia, prima Monica e poi Dimonia (1972)

2.5 out of 5

Despite assured direction from Mariano Laurenti, this unfocused Pasolini inspired Decamerotic ribaldry falls more than a little flat. Viewers would probably expect far more from the writer of the excellent, and superior, Giovannona Long-Thigh! Indeed, this is a disappointingly average comedy that tends to stray far too close to a weak, unfunny, sub-Carry On childishness.

However, there are positives. Because, for its flaws, Naughty Nun is nevertheless blessed with delightful costuming, a quirky and fun score, and a period-appropriate location of Gubbio, Perugia. It is incredibly easy on the eye. As, incidentally, is the delightful, disrobing, and ever professional top-billed Edwige Fenech. Yet, on this occasion, a nork-show is simply not enough to save the day.

Even cult favourites, Malisa Longo and Lucretia Love from The Devil Has 7 Faces, fail to put the boosters under this tepid attempt at funny.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics