Forgotten Pistolero / Il pistolero dell'Ave Maria (1969)

4.5 out of 5

Stirring and thoroughly enjoyable late blooming oater from the barely discussed director, Ferdinando Baldi. There's little in the way of action that fans of Italian westerns come to expect as characterization and dramatic elements take center stage. Yet these interesting roles give the action scenes an added kick they wouldn't have had otherwise.

If spaghetti heroes weren't prone to displaying little in the way of facial expressions, Leonard Mann would surely sink this movie. However, the late Peter Martell is on hand to level the playing field as Raffael, the man who searches for his childhood friend, Sebastian Carrasco, now suffering from amnesia. His plan is for the two of them, along with some additional sufferers, to avenge a traitorous act from years prior and to restore the Carrasco family name.

There's also a vendetta between Raffael and Francisco,Piero Lulli, that's particularly sadistic. We see clues throughout the film, but it's not revealed till late in the film. To see what that is, you must watch this excellent soap operatic sagebrush saga that barely breaches the 80 minute mark.

Luciano Rossi surprises with a rare turn as a good guy playing a timid, yet passionate man who loves a woman that doesn't love him back. The excellent cast is filled out with the likes of Luciana Paluzzi, Alberto De Mendoza, Piero Lulli, Pilar Vasquez and Jose Manuel Martin.

Roberto Pregadio's score is one of the most soaring soundtracks to ever grace any western made by Italian filmmakers. The films main theme is apparently very popular as it can be heard on numerous television commercials and programs. It's amazing it has yet to see a release on compact disc. Even with a short running time, Baldi delivers one of the best and seemingly forgotten westerns of the late 1960's before the comedy gunslingers took over the following year.

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