Dollar a Head, A / Navajo Joe (1966)

4.0 out of 5

Sergio Corbucci's "fourth" western, his fifth if you count Massacre At Grand Canyon, 1963, a movie he only shot a few scenes for, but was credited with the entire production. Finally, Corbucci was given a sizable budget, this time from Dino De Laurentiis, to realize his vision of violence. Navajo Joe stars Burt Reynolds as the title character battling against Duncan, a half breed maniac played with callous glee by the one, the only and recently departed Aldo Sambrell. The opening moments of the film reveal the level of brutality the viewer is in for.

There's very little story, just your typical revenge plot, but the director keeps things moving along for bloodthirsty action fans. Ennio Morricone is also on hand for one of his most somber and unique scores. Star, Reynolds, hated working on this picture and was not endeared to the production from the get go when he realized the Sergio he was going to be working with was not Mr. Leone. Still, Reynolds does a spirited job of making Joe a memorable character. The ending is simultaneously downbeat and poignant and somewhat typical of a Corbucci finale.

A flawed film, it definitely delivers lots of action. Corbucci's penchant for violence is poured on thick in this one as well. Women, children and also men of the cloth are not safe in this movie. But then, when are they ever? Corbucci was just better at making it stand out more. Possessing a lot of comic book charm, Navajo Joe will appeal to most fans of this prosperous genre of Italian cinema.

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