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More Ripping off of Leone - but with style
am 26. Juni 2013
Tony Anthony reprises his roll as The Stranger and this film delivers the Spaghetti Western goods to an even greater degree in a number of areas. The film is more stylish then it's predecessor A Stranger In Town and the Ennio Morricone-like music (although often way over the top) by Stelvio Cipriani is the kind we come to expect and enjoy in Spaghetti Westerns.
Tony Anthony brings his deadpanned, pokerfaced, sneaky, underhanded anti-heroism up a few notches making him even more enjoyable to watch then in the first film. The Stranger delivers a multitude of cynical deadpanned lines with a snide elegance. Tony Anthony is really good at playing this guy.
The humor(if you want to call it that) was stepped up too. I'm sure it would put off many, but I found it to be pretty funny that the hero in any Western would have the balls to name his horse Pussy. Trigger would roll over in his grave (oh - if only he could.)
That the deadly Stranger rides Pussy under a pink parasol is just one of the many ironic jokes and one of many things borrowed or stolen from better movies such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Besides Pussy and a pink parasol, the Stranger also wears pink long-johns. His lack of interest in woman may indicate that he is a bit...ahem...ambiguous in certain ways. His interest in gold-first, cash-second has not changed an iota and that is pretty obvious.
For the most part the voices looped in the American version are pretty good too. Tony Anthony uses his own voice and his dialogue is perfectly matched to his mouth. Most of the other characters have pretty good voice match ups too. Yes there is an ocassional bland, C-grade voice actor and a few times the words dont match - but for the most part this is not really too noticable.
Another small plus in the The Stranger Returns is the lovely Jill Banner - Jill was one of two charming, sexy, monster children from the cult film Spider Baby and she is just as pretty and charming in a Stranger Returns. Jill Banner was a dreadfully underused actress who deserved bigger and better rolls. Unfortunatly Jill wasnt given much to do here but it was a pleasure to see her even for a moment.
Finally - what this film is mostly about (other than style) is how many different ways our hero can kill a guy. The Stranger willingly digs graves for his victims while they calmly watch without much understanding, he takes dead-eyed pot shots at bad guys from under his ass or blasts some poor dope with a four barreled shotgun while eating fried chicken. It is all accomplished with an emplied wink and sometimes a sarcastic remark. The Stranger character in this film would actually be the kind of roll that might be created for Johnny Depp nowadays but I doubt Johnny could play the Stranger any better. Anthony manages to keep his Stranger character human and never cartoonish.
To be honest - The Stranger Returns has a ridiculous plot and is at times annoying - mostly due to the overblown music and a few over-acting bad guys - but more often then not - it's imaginative, entertaining and an amusing way to blow an hour and a half. I took off a star from my original four star rating due some hack butchering the opening credits with gaudy orange lettering, changing the title of the film to "Western Jack?" (why?)and adding awful canned pistol and machine-gun shots over Stelvio Cipriani's brilliant score (again why?). Cipriani's wonderful opening piece was heard intact in the original American release without the gunshot tampering - much better. I also found the DVD's sound quality, music and voices to be rather shrill and thin, sadly lacking in bass. Almost like the film was running to fast.
I would highly recommend The Stranger Returns to all Spagheti Western Fans - but to everyone else - Unless you are very forgiving or have a weird sense of humor I'd probably recommend that you stay away - The film is a bit of an intentional inside joke and mostly it's the Spaghetti Western fans who would be in on it.