Seven Guns for the MacGregors / Sette pistole per i MacGregor (1966)

3.5 out of 5

Possibly the earliest example of Italian western comedy, this picture premiered a few years prior to the Trinity boys making the genre fashionable to laugh at. This lighthearted romp is seemingly loathed by those who prefer their oaters a bit on the brutish side. However, this lively romp about a family of rambunctious Scottish settlers on the hunt for the thieves who stole a couple hundred of their horses isn't without a couple scenes of jarring, yet blackly humorous scenes of violence. It also contains story elements found in Leone's first two Dollars pictures.

The opening sequence is very funny wherein the young MacGregors are away leaving the old folks home alone. A bandit gang sees an opportunity and gets way more than they bargained for especially when the oldsters whip out "Queen Anne". Perennial SW favorite, Fernando Sancho is billed second, but has what amounts to an extended cameo role as a secondary villain. American, Robert Woods takes the lead role as Gregor MacGregor, the eldest of the MacGregor sons. Leo Anchoriz, Sandokan The Great, essays another lead antagonist this time playing Santillana, a bandit leader.

The finale involves the MacGregor sons trapped inside a fort while Santillana and his gang lay siege to it. The older MacGregors then come to their rescue in a flipside of the opening action sequence. Ennio Morricone delivers one of his most playful scores and there's nary a melancholy moment in either the film, or its soundtrack. It's all in the spirit of fun and the film was a box office success in Italy upon its release in February of 1966. While it's more in the American style, there's plenty of action and a number of familiar faces including Perla Cristal, Alberto Dell'Acqua and Cris Huerta. Along with notable director, Duccio Tessari, highly respected and controversial filmmaker Fernando Di Leo contributed to the script.

Silly at times, Seven Guns For The Macgregors is an enjoyable and far less nerve grating experience than other similar movies such as Crazy Bunch and Man Called Invincible. Those that like their spaghetti on the grim side will get a kick out of the scene where a man is repeatedly dragged through a fire while Fernando Sancho comments on a gringo's inability to withstand pain! If not for this one sequence, this picture would be suitable for the whole family. Possessing a lot of charm, Giraldi's action opus is brain dead fun that benefits, among other things, from a robust Morricone score, some memorable characters and a bigger budget than usual.

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