Tuesday, October 1, 2019

My Fried the Vagabond

Mi amigo el vagabundo – Spanish title
My Friend the Vagabond – English title

A 1984 Spanish, Japanese film co-production [Acónito Films (Madrid) & Masurao Takeda Films (Tokyo)]
Producers: Masurao Takeda, Augusto Boué, Pedro Sopeña
Director: Jacinto Molina
Story: Jacinto Molina
Screenplay: Jacinto Molina
Cinematography: Julio Burgos [color]
Music: Fernando García Morcillo
Running time: 86  minutes

Nazario Valiente 'El Duque' - José Luis López Vázquez
Sergio - Sergio Molina
Esopo - José Bódalo
Irene - Julia Saly
Pija - Gracita Morales
Ana - Florinda Chico
Enrique - Paul Naschy (Jacinto Molina)
Fraulein - Yolanda Farr
Commissioner - Manuel Zarzo
Juanjo - Alberto Fernández
Charlie - José Segura
El Punk - Pep Corominas
Sole - Beatriz Elorrieta
El Flaco - David Rocha
El Rata – Paco Nieto (Francisco Nieto)
Rufino – Toni Valento (Tony Valento)
Mexicans - Ernesto Vañez (Ernesto Vañes), José Riesgo
Businessmen - Javier Lozano, José Luis Barceló
Inspector - Mauro Rivera
Pija – (Alejandro Grepi (Alejandra Grepi)
With: María Mareo      María Mareo               

My Friend the Vagabond film review
By Michael Ferguson

Just got to see Jacinto Molina's delightful family film "Mi amigo el vagabundo" aka 'My Friend The Vagabond'. 

In it his son Sergio (real life and on screen adopted son) has a number of dream sequences where he encounters different characters including assorted western types. Most interesting he doesn't meet Waldemar Daninski thou... 

But, there is a quick line of dialogue early on when Sergio Molina as the child says he has an appetite like a "Wolf Man". I'm
sure that was a "Andermonster" (& the co-sub-titler Turdis) touch that improved on the original subtitle reference to being hungry like a wolf...

In the first dream (three minutes) he is helped by a town sheriff and fast-shooting pistolero (José Luis López Vázquez) ...

Naschy as the Sheriff

The scene is shot in a Spanish hacienda in Madrid dressed up as a Mexican village. The Museum where they shot A Fistful of Dollars ?

Old time Spaghetti western actors Ernesto Vañes (of Mario Bianchi's Creeping Death) & José Riesgo (of Sergio Corbucci 's The Mercencary) are the two chatty Mexican peons that watch and provide the running commentary on arrival of the main characters. 

Later he meets The Musketeer D'Artagnan and Zorro...

Nice nod to John Wayne with López Vázquez's character being called "The Duke). Django's Jose Bodalo appears through-out the film playing the bearded friend of López Vázquez. 

All the dream sequences come across rushed, an afterthought after the main production was done?, as lead actor José Luis López Vázquez is clean shaven. Throughout the film proper he is totally unrecognizable as the bearded good-hearted Tramp. If he wasn't nominated for the best actor award he should have been, his performance is that good. His role in the last half hour of the film seems reduced.

Ex "Seven Guns for the MacGregors" brother Manolo Zarzo plays the Police Commissioner who personally takes over the case of the kidnapping of wealthy businessman Naschy' recently adopted urchin son, Sergio.

Beatriz Elorrieta Lacy, daughter of spaghetti director Jose Luis Elorrieta de Lacy (Fury of the Apaches), plays the gang's Moll who realizes the error of her life choices. 

The film is far more sophisticated than I thought it would be. Chilling look at the underbelly of being poor and lonely on the streets of Madrid. Even the hippy punk gang is believable and not too cartoonish. Their kidnapping sub-plot is unnecessary and changes the nature of the story. It also includes the usual sentimental Spanish kid scenes (all 'a "Good Evening Mr. Monster" , which exudes its own zany charm), and the inevitable "song" about friendship that can be forgiven. Even with these commercial touches Vagabond rises above and delivers an actual thought provoking script.

Quite a polished production. Well written and decently performed. A real insight into the Spanish (Spain) psyche. Naschy, even if it wasn't intentional and comically driven sticks it to the square headed Germans, who as a child he grew up under. He also shows a distain for the American air force base and its occupants outside Madrid. One of the characters blames the death of young Sergio's mother on her acquaintance with the Americans. Most Spanish actors and crews despised taking a second seat to the American, Italian and Germans that populated the spaghetti west. A second invasion of their homelands? ...Perhaps.

Thanks to "Turdis" & "Andermonster" (who cleaned up and improved on the subtitles) for sending me a copy of the film...

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