Ruthless Colt of the Gringo
From The Spaghetti Western Database
This Spanish-Italian co-production was directed by Jose Luis Madrid and stars Luigi Giuliani under the Americanized film name Jim Reed. While the original Italian title of the film is Venganza de Clark Harrison, La, in some releases the Clark Harrison’s characters name was changed to Sol Lester. The film boasts four contributors to the screenplay including, Madrid, Candido Ledesma, Mino Roli and Antonio Santillan, from a novel by Jesus Navarro Carrion. While some films benefit from having multiple contributors to the screenplay, this film suffers from it. The problem with the film ultimately lies in its repetitiveness, lack of direction and a weak, rambling screenplay. While still somewhat early in the Italian westerns genre life, the film is unsure of its direction. That unsureness of the films direction lies in its decision as to whether it would be an Italian western, an American western clone, or a mixture of both genres. While some films mixed the two together with dazzling results, shown most notably in the Eugenio Martin classic The Ugly Ones. Ruthless Colt of the Gringo just can't make up its mind, and for this indecision, the film falters mightily. Luigi Giuliani in the lead, as Sol Lester, turns in a fine performance but is hurt by the script and the direction. In these films where the heroes are mighty with their guns and their fist, the Lester character is effective but does not display anything remarkable in those skills sets. The action seems forced and some shots seemingly needed a retake, but were kept in for monetary reasons i would suspect. The narrative is never fluid and the action scenes never crescendo, they just fall ultimately flat.
Sol Lester was sent to prison for a robbery and murder he did not commit. So, after five years in prison, he is released and has only one thing on his mind, revenge. One of the men responsible for the murder, named Coleman (Gaspar Gonzalez), decides that Lester should not make it back to Paradise city, so he and a couple of his goons set out to put an end to Lester once and for all. Lester escapes the men and heads to Paradise to fulfill his quest for revenge. At his trial, Lester was implicated by amongst others his girlfriend Cora (Germana Monteverdi), who after being battered by him after his return, says she was forced to testify against him. The local Judge Wilker (Gustavo Re), decides after the sheriff is killed off by Coleman and his gang, that Sol Lester would help bring law and order to the town. Wilker is also the Uncle of Lois Duvall (Marta Padovan), whose father was the man killed, that Lester was framed for. Wilker believes that Lester was framed and wants him to be sheriff to help clean up the town and his name. Two other men also are part of the equation, Bliss (Carlos Otero), the saloon owner where Cora works and Holloway (Cesar Ojinaga), who is the foreman at the mine, which belongs to Lois. The mine and its gold are the reason for all the continuing conflicts. In fact the night of the murder that Lester was framed for, Coleman and his sidekick were robbing the safe at the mine, looking for the deed to the mine, when interrupted by Lester.
Lester is in love with Lois, but she despises him and does not believe that he is innocent of the killing of her father but allows him the chance to prove his innocence. Eventually, Cora confesses to Lester, that she always knew that he loved Lois and not her, and the other reason she testified against him besides being pressured, was the fact she knew that he always loved Lois and not her. Cora was so overcome with jealousy, that if she couldn’t have Lester, then Lois wouldn’t either. It is eventually revealed that Bliss and Holloway are the culprits behind the robberies and killings, using Coleman and his men as their goons. Bliss is in love with Cora, and Holloway with Lois and both are obsessed with them. Both proclaiming their love and threatening to kill them if they can't have them as their own. Lester is once again implicated in another robbery and killing and is captured and locked up by Holloway, who has formed a posse and became temporarily the sheriff in town. Cora goes to Judge Wilker and tells him the whole sordid tale and he goes to the jail and by force makes the jailer free Lester.
Once freed, the judge tells Lester to arrest, Bliss, Holloway, and Coleman, and if they resist, kill them! The ending which I will not give away, is easily figured out as the love of Lester and Lois, shall not be denied. The action scenes are lackluster, the shootouts are staged ineffectively, and the score adds nothing to the proceedings. The director of the film Jose Luis Madrid, only made one other Italian western, that being the somewhat better film Who Killed Johnny R? That film is more of a whodunit mixed with a western and is a mildly effective hybrid. The narrative for Ruthless Colt of the Gringo is just too convoluted, and it is too involved for a film of such a small scope as this one. As noted above, the multiple screenwriters may have taken the film a bit beyond its fiscal limitations. What would have served the film better would have been a more simplistic and a scaled down affair, with more of the Italian western sense of style. Luigi Giuliani, would sadly only appear in one other Italian western that being Sheriff with the Gold in 1966.
Ruthless Colt of the Gringo firmly fits into the bottom rung of the genre. While the film does boast a good cast, all the other issues are too much to overcome. The film does oddly share a few similarities to the 1968 Klaus Kinski film And God Said to Cain (E Dio disse a Caino, 1968). In both films, the hero is sent to prison for a crime he did not commit and the women they loved had both testified against them. But make no mistake, that while And God Said to Cain is one of the best the genre has to offer, Ruthless Colt of the Gringo on the other hand is one of the worst.
Thanks as always to the spaghetti western expert Tom Betts. And a shoutout to Carl Black!