A chain mail-clad gunfighter contends with a pacifist sheriff, a seductive banker, a one-armed Mexican bandit, corrupt businessmen and hippies while trying to learn the secret of the money allegedly stolen by his lynched brother.
While a Mexican revolutionary lies low as a U.S. rodeo clown, the cynical Polish mercenary who tutored the idealistic peasant tells how he and a dedicated female radical fought for the soul of the guerrilla general Paco, as Mexicans threw off repressive government and all-powerful landowners in the 1910s. Tracked by the vengeful Curly, Paco liberates villages, but is tempted by social banditry's treasures, which Kowalski revels in.Written by
Because he was contractually obliged to provide his voice for the English version, Franco Nero was initially cast as Paco Roman. James Coburn was hired for the role of the mercenary (who was originally intended to be an American) based on his role in Our Man Flint (1966), but eventually dropped out of the role due to disagreements as to whether he or Nero would be top-billed. Coburn's role was rewritten as Polish so that Nero could portray the character with an accent. Tony Musante was cast as Paco after Nero saw him in The Incident (1967). See more »
A plane is used to bomb Paco's fort. However planes did not begin to drop bombs until the late stages of WWI, in which they were dropped by hand. See more »
Kowalski aka the Pole:
So, Paco Roman is a clown. Well, better a live clown than a dead hero. As I, Sergei Kowalski, Polish emigrate to the New World, always realised...
[fade-in to flashback of Paco working in a mine]
Kowalski aka the Pole:
When our story began, Paco was only a peon. But one... with a difference.
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The second collaboration of Sergio Corbucci, the Italian Western's most important director besides Sergio Leone, and Franco Nero, one of the genre's greatest actors, after the ingenious "Django" from 1966, "Il Mercenario", a movie set in the time of the Mexican revolution, and therefore late for a Western, is a must-see for every fan of the genre.
Sergei Kowalski (Franco Nero) gets hired by short-tempered revolutionary Paco Roman (Tony Musante), in order to help his squad of unexperienced rebels with their campaign for a free Mexico. While Paco is a crook, but also an idealist, becoming more and more idealistic after his troop is joined by beautiful and idealistic Columba, a woman whose father was a revolutionary , the Polish is a typical anti-hero, witty and cool and somehow sympathetic, but mainly concerned on his own benefit.
The acting is great, specially Franco Nero as the Polish, and Jack Palance's performance as one of the villains. Another villain is played by Eduardo Fajardo, who played the villainous Major Jackson in Django. The score of this movie, composed by Ennio Morricone, is just brilliant (how couldn't it), the cinematography is great as well as the locations. My favorite film by Corbucci is still the incomparably brilliant "Il Grande Silenzio" ("aka. "The Great Silence") of 1968, "Django" of 1966 being my second-favorite due to its immense entertainment- and cult-value. Maybe not quite as brilliant as "Il Grande Silenzio" and not quite as influential as "Django", "Il Mercenario" is nonetheless an exceptional Spaghetti Western with a great sense of humor that I would recommend to everybody, not only genre fans. 9 out of 10!
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