Combustible Celluloid
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With: Franco Nero, William Berger, Olga Karlatos, Orso Maria Guerrini, Gabriella Giacobbe, Antonio Marsina, Joshua Sinclair, Donald O'Brien, Leonardo Scavino, Wolfango Soldati, Victoria Zinny, Alfio Caltabiano, Woody Strode
Written by: Enzo G. Castellari, Luigi Montefiori, Nico Ducci, Mino Roli
Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 101
Date: 11/25/1976

Keoma (1976)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Avenging Cowboys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Starring Franco Nero (Django) and directed by Enzo G. Castellari, Keoma came fairly late in the Spaghetti Western cycle. It's something of a mashup of styles, including memorable slow-motion shootouts, and a mysterious witch that suddenly appears from time to time (perhaps representing death).

Nero plays a half-breed who looks and sounds nothing like a Native American. Keoma was adopted and raised by a white man, who had three biological sons. He returns home after the Civil War to find that his "brothers" have joined forces with a local villain, and he vows revenge. While he's at it, he rescues a beautiful pregnant woman (Olga Karlatos), who has been mistakenly rounded up and exported with a group of plague victims. Woody Strode (Once Upon a Time in the West) plays a former ranch hand who helps out.

Aside from the peculiar mismatching of Nero and his role, the movie's almost random collection of elements gives it an appealing recklessness and energy that sells it. The main drawback is the music; every so often the action stops for clunky, badly-written songs that describe the action as we're seeing it -- or worse, the feelings of the characters -- and sung by singers who can't sing. These wince-inducing moments nearly sink the movie, but fortunately, it's cool enough to survive.

Mill Creek Entertainment released this Blu-ray double feature -- along with The Grand Duel -- highlighting two exemplary Spaghetti Westerns. The Blu-ray has no extras, but getting two cool movies for a decent price is bonus enough.

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