Cry, Onion! / Cipolla Colt (1976)

4.0 out of 5

Madcap doesn't begin to describe this zany drug trip of a movie that plays like some spaghetti western collaborated on by a bunch of Italian, pot-smoking Buster Keaton fans. Director Enzo Castellari creates a myriad of numerous set-pieces centered around an onion farmer, played by a manic Franco Nero in a full Harpo Marx perm. When Nero is not over-emoting or darting around in fast-motion, he stuffs raw onions into his face; almost as if the film-makers were lampooning the more sombre Burt Kennedy western, Welcome To Hard Times, featuring a bellowing Aldo Ray who shared an equal passion for bitter vegetables when not committing random assaults against townspeople.

Amidst all the slapstick, western comedy and the stunts Nero performs, sprinting from oil baron henchman, gunfighters, etc., there's actually a familiar anti-commercial development plot with Nero functioning as the kind of misfit outsider normally reserved for Tomas Milian's uninvited bandit/heroes.

Some of the gags are hysterically original, not to mention dangerous. And the bizarre casting of Sterling Hayden and Martin Balsam only make the movie weirder.

Fantastic production design, with almost every camera shot dominated by towering oil drills, plus the throttling dixieland score by the DeAngelis brothers, create a serious instability in moods; the movie's personality is as schizophrenic as David Lynch on cheap, carnival methamphetamine. Is this a comic dream, or a nightmare? The out of control action, intimidating set design, and all those obnoxious trombones and banjos make for a movie that definitely enters the "far-out", western sub-genre. Monte Hellman would be spellbound. Movie features one amazing, reverse-slow-motion shot of an Indian "returning" to the grave that has to be rewound to be believed.

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