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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Ringo The Rapist
Now Playing: BLINDMAN
BLINDMAN is one of the stranger "spaghetti westerns" I've seen. Basically an Italian swipe of the long-running series of Japanese films about the blind swordsman Zatoichi (still being made with Takeshi Kitano in the role), BLINDMAN is an Italian-made, American-financed western filmed in Spain that stars U.S. actor Tony Anthony as a blind gunfighter and British rock star Ringo Starr as a Mexican bandito. Some melting pot.

Anthony was born in West Virginia, but wrote, produced and starred in several Italian westerns during the '60s and '70s. As "Blindman", he's contracted to escort fifty mail-order brides to some miners in Texas, but his partners waylay him and sell the women to a nasty Mexican named Domingo (Lloyd Battista, another American actor who's still active in films and TV). After blowing up the bastardos, Blindman heads to Mexico to find Domingo and get his women back by kidnapping the bandit's brother Candy (Starr), a vicious rapist with a liking for a prostitute named Pilar (Agneta Eckemyr, a Swede), and holding him for ransom.

As directed by Ferdinando Baldi, BLINDMAN features several doublecrosses, a ton of beatings and explosions, plenty of gunfire, and a heapin' helping of brutality and misogyny. Anthony, also a co-producer and co-writer, seems to be going for a comic vibe, but with the mass slaughter and gangraping, it's hard to see what's so funny. Even the hero gets into the act, stripping Domingo's sister naked and tying her to a stake in the desert. Most of the women appear naked, and a mass shower scene looks like something from a women-in-prison flick. That said, I liked the film. It certainly isn't dull, tackling the violence and masochism with a lot of energy.

Released around the world beginning in 1971 and hitting U.S. theaters in 1972, BLINDMAN reportedly did quite well at the box office internationally, presumably due to the grungy subject matter and the presence of Beatle Starr (who mumbles his way through an unconvincing Mexican accent, but otherwise is quite credible). It was produced by ABKCO Films, which was owned by Allen Klein, the notorious manager of the Beatles after Brian Epstein's death and a figure instrumental in the group's 1970 breakup.

Anthony was still making spaghetti westerns over a decade later, when COMIN' AT YA! kicked off the short-lived 3D craze of the early 1980's, which included films like JAWS 3-D, AMITYVILLE 3-D and SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Like BLINDMAN, it was directed by Ferdinando Baldi and seemed too grim, featuring scenes of torture and violence uncomfortably interspersed with campy shots that take obvious advantage of the 3D format. Most of them involve various objects thrust into our faces, including rats, flaming arrows, yo-yos, beans, snakes, gold coins and bats. But not Ringo Starr, who had moved on to great works of art like CAVEMAN and GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET.

Posted by Marty at 11:17 PM CST
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