Italian cinema was famous for embracing a genre after a hit and cranking out dozens if not hundreds of similar films. It started in the mid-50s when they put the ruins of Rome to work with Peplum films. This was a mix of films that were based on Biblical characters, Roman myths and historical figures. But as the ’60s progressed the audience was waning for men in togas. The next wave was discovered when Sergio Leone’s Fistful of Dollars arrived with Clint Eastwood as the quiet Man With No Name. The Spaghetti Western was born and Italian filmmakers, studios and distributors were eager to create the American frontier in deserts of Spain. Duccio Tessari was a co-screenwriter on Fistful and was ready to create his own gunslinger as he stepped up to direct A Pistol For Ringo.
Tessari could have easily just made another script about an Eastwood-esque gun man roaming the high plains letting his guns do his talking. But his movie’s anti-hero was the opposite. Ringo (Montgomery Wood – really Giuliano Gemma) isn’t a silent and standoffish kinda guy. He doesn’t mind talking and even plays hopscotch with little kids. His nickname is Angel Face. But he has no problem gunning down people aiming for him at a playground. While he was only protecting himself, the local sheriff (A Noose Is Waiting for You Trinity‘s George Martin) still needs to put him in jail to make sure this was justice. During his time behind bars, a bandit gang led by Sancho (Return of the Blind Dead‘s Fernando Sancho) robs a major bank and holds up in a land Baron’s estate. The place is filled with rich folks celebrating Christmas. The sheriff is confounded because Sancho has promised to kill a person every so often until his demands are met. The sheriff turns to Ringo to get in with the gang and free the family members. This proves to be a hard trick, but Ringo is up for it since he gets a nice reward if successful.
While the film isn’t as stylish as Fistful, Tessari kept up the action and Gemma proved you could be charming and pump people full of lead. The movie soundtrack by Ennio Morricone proved he was the sound of the new wild west. A Pistol For Ringo proved so popular in Europe that Tessari was quickly given the green light to make another Ringo film and he was able to get Gemma to return as the title character.
The Return of Ringo is not a sequel, but it is. How can that be? Ringo returns, but he doesn’t return from the first film’s ending. Gemma is a guy named Ringo, but instead of being a gun for hire, he’s now a solider returning from the Civil War. He returns from battle to what he thinks is his home. Turns out bandits have overrun his estate and the head crook Paco (George Martin) is about to marry Ringo’s woman. How could she do this? Turns out he’s holding onto something precious to her. Paco’s brother Esteban (Fernando Sancho) is the main enforcer of the nasty crew. Ringo disguises himself as a poor laborer to get close to Paco and Esteban and plot his rise back to power. But things get complicated when he gets too close and experiences the bandit’s form of justice. But Ringo won’t give up.
Basically it doesn’t matter which movie you watch first on A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo: Two Films by Duccio Tessari Blu-ray. They’re both films about the character of Ringo, but totally separate adventures. George Martin and Fernando Sancho play different characters in the films. Ennio Morricone’s vibrant soundtracks ties them further together.
Tessari and Gemma only made these two Ringo films, but that didn’t stop producers and distributors from keeping Ringo on the marquee for years. $10,000 for Ringo, Ringo and Gringo Against All, Two R-R-Ringos from Texas, Ringo and His Golden Pistol, Ringo of Nebraska and Ringo the Face of Revenge did their best lure people in thinking they were seeing more of the real Ringo. This was the same fate as all those Django films that were cranked out at the same time. But at least A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo: Two Films by Duccio Tessari contains the real Ringo even if they are two different Ringos.
The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The transfers for both film brings back a gritty shine to Spanish location. The audio is both the Italian and English mono PCM soundtracks. Both soundtracks sound created in post-production so pick your language. The movie is subtitled in English in case you want to make it a foreign film night.
Audio commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke. The duo give a great sense of what Ringo meant during this era as a character. They two give plenty of background on director and star.
Revisiting Ringo (37:43) is a video appreciation by critic Tony Rayns. He gives a sense of what these movies meant at the time.
They Called Him Ringo (21:52) is an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma and Lorella De Luca. The actors talk about how they had previously worked with Duccio Tessari. Lorella lived with the director. Gemma speaks of a sense of irony in his Westerns.
A Western Greek Tragedy (26:32) is an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D Offizi. The cameraman talks about how an international production used to split jobs by nationalities, but on Ringo, Tessari wanted a fellow Italian behind the lens.
Original trailers include the US and German trailers for A Pistol and US and Italian trailers for Return.
Gallery (1:38) of original promotional images including international posters and press pics.
Arrow Video presents A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo: Two Films by Duccio Tessari. Directed by: Duccio Tessari. Screenplay by: Duccio Tessari. Starring: Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, Hally Hammond, Nieves Navarro & George Martin. Rated: Unrated. Boxset Contents: 2 movies on 1 Blu-ray. Released: March 19, 2018.
Tags: A Pistol For Ringo, Arrow Video, Spaghetti Western, The Return of Ringo