A Stranger in Paso Bravo (1968, Salvatore Rosso)
Anthony Steffen is a mysterious stranger who arrives in town to take revenge on a local town boss played by Eduardo Fajardo… In combined premise and casting, this should serve almost as an identikit for the Spaghetti Western as a whole, although one would do better looking elsewhere for a first taste of the genre. The ultra-archetypal central idea is workable enough but not when presented as ineptly as this. That the script should be confused in clarifying the past of the Steffen character is a trivial flaw alongside the directorial performance of Salvatore Rosso, a career assistant director whose sole efforts as a director proper are, unsurprisingly, the present effort (originally titled Un straniero a Paso Bravo) and a lone documentary from 1959. On the evidence of the results, Rosso’s work consisted in ordering a variety of different camera placements with no attention to continuity or spatial consistency. It is accordingly difficult to make out who is where; there are too many setups and the editing lacks fluency – and the latter is exacerbated by damage to the print viewed and censorial instructions that what promises to be a sadistic-gay torture scene (with a black-clad Vassili Karis, uncredited in the Spanish version, on the delivering end) be cut from the negative. That said, there are some good collaborations from some of the Spanish element in this co-production between Italy and Spain. Alfonso Nieva’s images are pleasant (particularly in a rather striking shot of the heroes entering Villa Mussolini prior to the climactic shootout) and Pepe Calvo amuses in the supporting role of a peddler. As for Lavagnino’s music, it is effective but rather like some of his other Western work; one feels he often composed the same score several times but it was a good score nonetheless.