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A classical squashing of the head.

“Vamos a matar compañeros” bellows a shaggy Franco Nero atop his horse in a most memorable scene from Sergio Corbucci’s Companeros. Set during the Mexican Revolution, Compaenros presents us with the misadventures of two unlikely bedfellows brought together by a common desire for wealth and power. This picture is one of the best examples of the quintessential spaghetti western: it’s adventurous, funny, and suspenseful all in the right places.

Starring next to Nero is Thomas Milian—you might remember him as Salazer in Traffic—who plays Vasco, an up and coming soldier in general Mongo’s (José Bódalo) army. Vasco is made to look like Che Guerva which you’ll discover is not a mistake as the film has a socialist theme running in the background. The versatile Jack Palance stars as John, a one-armed Texas business man and all around bad-ass who is after Nero’s character Yodlaf Peterson aka the Swede–it was Peterson after all who caused John to lose his arm. The icing on the cake is the soundtrack, composed by Ennio Morricone whose main theme will stick in your head long after you’ve finished the film.

In typical spaghetti western fashion, Companeros strays from the classic antagonist versus protagonist plotline, focusing instead on the response of its characters to a constant turning of tables. In a sense the film is a thought experiment: how do humans behave when they are put into unlikely situations? This motif has found its way in a few of Quentin Tarantino’s earlier works such as Reservior Dogs and Pulp Fiction. On a side note, Django, the name and film title of one of Franco Nero’s most notable characters has been borrowed by Taraninto for his most recent film Django Unchained, set to release in 2012.

Although Companeros borrows many elements from The Good, Bad, And The Ugly it is more of an interesting interpretation of the classic than a cheap-rip off. As a lover of undiscovered gems, Companeros ranks high up on my list of kick-ass spaghetti westerns. If you’re new to this genre it’s a great film to get you started. I remember watching it on a random Saturday afternoon with a few beers and box of pepperoni pizza. I had no idea I’d be in for such a treat that day and now that you’ve read this maybe you will, too.

Jonathan’s Reviews: 5 out of 5 stars.

Category: Film, Movie Reviews

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