Bastard, The / I bastardi (1968)

2.0 out of 5

Too bad this movie's swanky, organ-drenched score promises a slick, atmospheric crime movie with interesting New Mexico locations to match. It ultimately betrays itself and meanders on about as dynamically as lead bore Giuliano Gemma, who finds himself surounded by all manner of plot implausibilties, including the hilarious casting surprise of being Klaus Kinski's brother, both brothers being the offspring of sloppy, alcoholic mommy Rita Hayworth.

Left-for-dead Gemma is dumped in the desert with a poorly explained hand injury, compliments of evil brother Kinski, then is rescued by a blondie rancher, who happens to look like a super-model. But no amount of jazzy, 60s guitar twangs or flashy, head-trip editing can save the movie from its own old-fashioned melodrama. Even the cheerful Meters-like score, celebrating Gemma's onscreen coolness and rehabilitation, can improve upon the flick's empty characters and lack of suspense.

When a movie can't even make a Klaus Kinski death scene exciting, you know there is something terribly wrong. Wins a few points for music, though.

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