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|Locandina||Italian Poster ( X2 )||Italian Poster (x4)|
|English Title||Run Man Run|
|Screenplay||Sergio Sollima , Fabrizio De Angelis|
|Cast||Tomas Milian , Donald O'Brien , John Ireland
Rick Boyd , Linda Veras , Jose Torres
Run Man Run Review
Sergio Sollima's third and final Western runs two hours in its fullversion. An eccentric and personal film, it proved too offbeat for thedistributors who attempted to transform it into a short- one hour and twenty minutes-action film with a barely discernible plot full of mysterious, briefly appearing characters acting without discernible motives. In the cut version John Ireland appears in just one, almost surrealistically inserted, scene, whilst two Mexican government agents are mysteriously transformed into one in the final showdown (the death of the other was cut). Up until a few weeks ago this was the version I had. Reviewing it seemed an impossibility. I now have the fuller version, fortunately and the difference is astonishing. Run Man run is not a great film- it remains the least of Sollima's Westerns, but it has a fullness of personal vision that lifts it out of the regular genre Westerns. As a political statement it's a bizarre, warped and intriguing excursion, helped (usually) by some madly over the top playing by Tomas Milian and an excellent Bruno Nicolai music score. Milian is Cucillo the knife, back from Sollima's earlier The Big Gundown, but mysteriously lacking the wife he had in the earlier film.
Instead he has Dolores, the smouldering Chelo Alonso and a relationship that seems to be one half love, one half war. That apart, Cucillo is otherwise the same character. Arrested for theft (wrongly), he meets a revolutionary intellectual, Ramirez in his cell. Ramirez is due to be released the following morning, but, knowing the location of a revolutionary gold supply he is set to be pounced on by interested parties the second he leaves prison. Former Sheriff, and former political sympathiser, Cassidy (Donald O'Brien), the two Mexican government agents already mentioned and a bandit chief are ranged around the jail waiting for him. Puzzled by the request, Cucillo agrees to help Ramirez escape from prison a few hours before his release is due and thus becomes involved in the fighting for the gold. An heroic stand by Ramirez, protecting a child against the bandits leads to his death and the burden of protecting the gold -apparently in an American town, Burton City, passes to Cucillo who in turn becomes the hunted. What follows is a gelling of alliances- the Mexican agents joining the bandits, Cucillo joining Cassidy who rediscovers his love of the Revolution.
Throughout, Dolores is attempting to track down her intended, and herself tips off the Mexican agents in exchange for a small reward, fearing the gold will corrupt Cucillo. A new element is provided by the people of Burton City themselves, particularly in the shape of Salvation army member Penny Barrington, Linda Veras who wants both the gold and Cucillo, provided he 'civilises himself. Dolores isn't amused and the pair are reduced to fighting over Cucillo in one bizarre sequence (cut, originally) The conclusion finds the gold discovered in a printing press (Sollima's clumsy idea of symbolising the need for a literate proletariat, apparently). Bandits and Mexican agents surround Burton City whose citizens who all turn out to be as spineless as their mayor (Gianni Rizzo, alias the human slug).
Cassidy and Cucillo arrange for the gold to be smuggled out of the town in a general exodus. Cucillo's commitment is naturally tested by Barrington; he resists and discards the western clothing she has given him (more symbolism and a steal from the close of Damianati's A Bullet For The General). A last stand finds the Mexican agents killed, but the army and still more bandits pursuing Cassidy and Cucillo who leave the gold with Dolores before heading for the hills. If this sounds strange, it's because Run Man Run is strange. The plotting is episodic and hard to keep track of, even in the full version.
Sollima feels free to indulge in quirky details that are inspired at times, at other times infuriating. Remarkable insights appear beneath broad comedy. It's a very twisted film indeed. Just to give one example; Cucillo agrees to help Barrington 'spread the word' in a Mexican village. Cucillo's job is literally to bang the drum as Barrington preaches a sermon on honest, clean living. Her Protestant orientated views- don't steal even if hungry, forsake the flesh etc., finally cause Cucillo to disrupt instead of help her prayer meeting. One the one hand there's something quite interesting in the scene - a critique of patronising charity for the poor and an argument for direct political action instead; on the other hand there's Tomas Milian mugging in a fashion that would make Jim Carrey blush. The whole film is like that: farce and Marxism in one uneasy package. Nonetheless, it's the only Spaghetti western of its particular kind. The farce is amusing and the action scenes staged with conviction. Sollima's integrity goes a long way to making Run Man Run worth the effort needed to unpack it. But remember- get the full package to start with. If it's the cut version you watch, it won't and will never make any sense.
Saturday, 07-Nov-98 00:21:02