By ANTHONY LUSARDI
A Bullet for the General (1967), dir. Damiano Damiani
Historical events weren't always a focus of spaghetti westerns. But there was one event that fueled the imagination of Italian directors: the Mexican Revolution of 1910-20. These spaghetti westerns often featured stories about Mexican protagonists (peasants, criminals, or gunslingers) who find themselves swept into the conflicts of the Mexican Revolution. In the beginning, they are either trying to avoid the carnage of the revolution or trying to profit from it. Such is the story for gun runner El Chuncho Munoz (Dollars star Gian Maria Volonte) who wishes to live well and be a famous general. His current success makes him the commander of a whole town filled with loyal fighters. Then during one heist, El Chuncho runs into American Bill Nate (Columbian
actor Lou Castel), who becomes a worthy ally and joins the gang in the revolution. The pairing of a Mexican character with a foreigner (often referred to as “Gringo”) was a common troupe in Zapata western. And with Nate, El Chuncho rises through the ranks as an unexpected freedom fighter, but still tempted by personal profit. Will he buy bread or dynamite at the movie’s end Often, Zapata westerns are interpreted by critics and audiences as a leftist critique of Hollywood's own typical handling of the Mexican Revolutions, and of imperialism in general. This specific group of spaghetti westerns further deals with the radicalizing of bad men and bandits into revolutionaries when confronted with injustice. Whereas A Fistful of Dollars started the spaghetti western craze in Italy, A Bullet for the General is said to have started the Zapata craze. The aspect of two ethnically different guns teaming up for war missions became a popular theme of Zapatas. It’s somewhat reflective of how Italian studios were willing to bring international faces into their pictures, such as German Klaus Kinski, Cuban Tomas Milian, and of course, American Clint Eastwood. Or maybe it was a way of telling foreign nations to keep their noses out of other people's business. Through for any Zapata western, including A Bullet for the General, between the Mexican hero and the gringo ally, half the time they don't know whether to work together or shoot each other. But for the pairing for El Chuncho and Bill Nate, it is one of the many things that makes A Bullet for the General a spaghetti western to watch and enjoy.
Lives in Rockaway Borough
He's a 2013 graduate of Centenary College (now Centenary University) in Hackettstown, NJ
He currently work as a freelance reporter
Anthony is an avid movie fan, reader, and lover of arts and entertainment. I've attended and covered music concerts, art exhibits, festivals, parades, book readings, library lectures, and even a movie premiere in Parsippany and a movie shooting in Roxbury.
[Continued next week]