Adam reviews the one-two gut punch of bad assery that is A Pistol For Ringo and The Return Of Ringo released by Arrow Video’s Academy line in a brand new beautiful Blu-Ray.
Blu-Ray Review: Arrow Video’s A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo
A Pistol for Ringo
Duccio Tessari’s A Pistol for Ringo may be one of the coolest Spaghetti Westerns this reviewer has ever seen. Cool in the way that Steve McQueen was cool. It feels almost effortless in the way that Tessari is able to find ways for his truly roguish anti-hero Ringo (‘Montgomery Wood’ aka Giuliano Gemma) to get in and out of dangerous situations.
The film is more James Bond and Howard Hawks than Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci. Tessari’s clever script relies on Ringo’s smarts and cunning to find his way out of an untenable showdown between a Mexican Bandito Sancho (Fernando Sancho) and a local sheriff. Sancho has taken a local Land Baron and his daughter hostage after a robbery gone awry. How Ringo fits into this situation is too delectable to ruin in this review. Needless to say, it’s very Plissken-esque.
Much of the rest of the film trades on thrills, tension and character work more than your typical western. Its Tessari’s brilliant knowing script and his sharp direction that elevates this average setup to something more stylishly confident. A Pistol for Ringo is Pop Entertainment of the highest order.
The Return of Ringo
The “Sequel” to A Pistol for Ringo is everything that its predecessor is and more. Tessari’s The Return of Ringo is every bit as sharp, clever, and fun. The film adds a surprising amount of emotional heft to this tale of revenge.
Though this film is a tale of revenge Tessari sides on the James Bond style of spycraft. The film’s deceptive nature is suited perfectly for this story rather than a straight-ahead Sergio Corbucci style revenge picture. The film takes place ten years after the events of the first film. As we quickly learn Ringo has gone off to war (the Civil one to be exact), coming home to a town that has changed for the worse.
Tessari’s script again is razor sharp, allowing the film and it’s characters to rely on smarts rather than violence. The Return of Ringo frames the revenge quietly, needling through set pieces with tension rather than action. Though said revenge and Ringo’s ultimate plan is clever and well observed in a way few filmic heroes revenge is. The director even manages to allow for genuine human emotions. Much of Ringo’s journey is dealing with the loss that comes with leaving for war. The script never gives Ringo an easy out or easy answers for the emotional heft that comes with this journey he is on.
The Return of Ringo is every bit the equal to the original film. Tessari has made something even Leone wasn’t able to. A cohesive long-form story told over two films though different in content and execution its connected by the main character and its stylish direction.
Arrow continues to release great worthy transfers for the Italian genre films they put out on Blu-Ray. The Brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original negative look lightyears ahead of the original home video releases.
They include the following:
- Audio commentaries for both films by Spaghetti Western experts C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke
- They Called Him Ringo, an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma
- A Western Greek Tragedy, an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D’Offizi
- Revisiting Ringo, a new video interview with critic and Ringo fan Tony Rayns
- Gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegal Archive
- Original trailers
- Gallery of original promotional images
The Audio Commentaries for both films are fun and informative lead by critics C. Courtney Joyner and Henry Parke. Joynver and Parke discuss the film’s production, release, history, and context as they were released at the height of the Spaghetti Western.
Revisiting Ringo is more akin to a visual essay than an actual interview with critic Tony Rayns who is a noted Ringo Fan. The interview discusses the history of Ringo as a character in Italian Cinema. One of the many interesting items is that Ringo is a character like Zatoichi from Japan, who has come in many forms.
They Called Him Ringo is a twenty-minute interview with Ringo himself, Montgomery Wood aka Giuliano Gemma discussing not just how he was cast as Ringo but his career as a whole.
A Western Greek Tragedy is a set of interviews with an actress of both films Hally Hammond aka Lorella De Luca. The featurette is more interview than actual behind the scenes documentary. All the same the 15-minute feature is well worth diving into.
The Final Thought
Arrow Video has come through again with a great double feature worthy of your hard earned money, especially if you’re a western fan. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATIONS!