Friday, August 17, 2012

#732. Run, Man, Run (1968)

Directed By: Sergio Sollima

Starring: Tomas Milian, Donald O'Brien, John Ireland

Trivia: Director Sergio Sollima has said that Ennio Morricone actually wrote the score for this film, but was under contract at another studio at the time, and therefore gave credit for it to his conductor, Bruno Nicolai

Having worked with actor Tomas Milian in a limited capacity on both The Big Gundown and Face to Face, director Sergio Sollima wanted to make a movie that would showcase the actor’s particular talents. After seeing his performance in the resulting film, the 1968 Western Run, Man, Run, I can say Sollima’s confidence in Milian’s abilities was very well placed.

Cuchillo (Milian), an outlaw handy with a knife, is on the run. In fact, running has become a way of life for Cuchillo, who’s constantly being chased by opposing bandits, his feisty girlfriend Delores (Chelo Alonso), or a bounty hunter (Donal O’Brien) hot on his trail. But when Cuchillo learns a fortune in gold has been hidden somewhere nearby, a stash totaling nearly three million dollars, he stops running long enough to try and track it down.

Run, Man, Run contains plenty of action, but it’s also funny. While walking through the desert on his search for the gold, Cuchillo comes across Penny (Linda Veras), a Salvation Army commander, who’s digging a grave to bury her recently departed assistant. As Cuchillo helps her with the burial, he asks who it was that killed the man. “Nobody”, Penny replies, “he died of an illness”. Cuchillo pauses for a moment, nods his head, and says, “Yes, I suppose it can happen that way too”. While humor is usually part of any good Spaghetti Western, the comedy in Run, Man, Run is much more pronounced.

The heroes in Spaghetti Westerns aren’t always heroic, and this is certainly true of Cuchillo, a womanizer who doesn’t hesitate to kill when the circumstances demand it. And yet, in the end, he ultimately does the right thing, which is rather ironic because the first time the character Cuchillo appeared in a movie was in Sollima’s 1966 picture, The Big Gundown. In that film, Cuchillo, still played by Milian, was being hunted by lawman John Corbett (fan favorite Lee Van Cleef) for his role in the rape and murder a twelve-year-old girl.

Isn’t it amazing what a few years can do for a character’s reputation (though, to be fair, he may have been framed in The Big Gundown; you gotta watch it to find out)?

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