10. They Call Me Trinity (1970), dir. Enzo Barboni
As with any successful franchise, eventually something gets so popular, it becomes the target of satire, parody, and at times, insult. Sadly, this happened to spaghetti westerns as the 70s came along. This doesn't mean the subgenre was losing its soul. At the forefront of this new phase, They Call Me Trinity was released. Its immediate success helped solidify a new game plan for Italian studios: comedy.
In its leads are acting duo, Terence Hill and Bud Spencer; often considered the Abbott and Costello of Italy. Both men have had prolific careers, both as a duo and individually, but their biggest success came with this picture.
Trinity (Hill) is not your typical hero. And that’s an understatement in terms of his lack of work ethic, lack of ambition, and lack of good hygiene. Instead, he's your typical ne'er-do-well. Yet whether he's walking around town in filthy and tattered clothes with a colt pistol, or sleeping on a travois pulled by a horse across the desert, this man is known as the "Right Hand of the Devil." His half-brother Bambino (Spencer), who pretends to be a town sheriff, is known as the "Left Hand of the Devil."
These “hands of the devil” have a plan that includes the theft of finely bred horses, which as you expect, runs into mayhem, which involves corrupted officials, Mexican thugs, bar room brawls, but surprisingly little gunplay. But the half-brothers grow a soft spot for a bunch of pacifist Mormons who are frequently terrorized by bullies set upon them by the town’s corrupted officials.
Trinity became known for its highly-satirical portrayal of the average western. It even goes as far as to give the main character drawing skills that is so ridiculously fast, you'd think someone pressed the fast-forward button. Gun violence is often replaced with fist fights instead, and the humor is much lighter than in most spaghetti westerns.
The success of Trinity led to a sequel, Trinity Is Still My Name. Its story follows a picaro-like structure, but features the same troupes: filthy antiheroes, slapstick atmosphere, epic fistfights, speedy gun draws, barroom brawls, and a lifetime supply of baked beans. A third movie may has never been produced, but once again, countless imitators were spawned to capitalize on the Trinity success. Even films that Hill and Spencer starred in prior to this franchise were re-released and re-marketed as Trinity movies.
Hill later starred in another notable spaghetti western comedy, My Name is Nobody. Starring alongside Henry Fonda, and co-directed by Sergio Leone, Nobody is a classic satire of the western genre with Sam Peckinpah themes of an aging Old West and creaky gunslingers not unwilling to give up old traditions. This has become allegoric for what eventually happened to the spaghetti western subgenre.
Trivia: Terence Hill and Bud Spencer have starred in over 20 movies together, mostly in comedies. The first time they co-starred together was a sword-and-sandal flick, Hannibal (1959). The last time was in a western comedy Troublemakers (1994), which Hill himself directed.
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