Tuesday 5 March 2013

Movie Review: Blindman (1971)

A bland and imminently forgettable spaghetti western, Blindman rarely engages. The story of a sharp-shooting blindman trying to find 50 women stolen from him in the wild west gets quickly lost in the desert and mostly walks around in circles.

The Blindman (Tony Anthony) hunts down a man called Skunk, who ran off with a cargo of 50 women who were supposed to be delivered by the Blindman as brides to a group of miners. Skunk has already sold the women to Mexican bandit Domingo (Lloyd Battista) and his brother Candy (Ringo Starr). Undeterred, the Blindman makes his way to Mexico, and locates Candy lusting after local blonde Pilar (Agneta Eckemyr).

Domingo intends to profit from the women by using them as the ultimate whore trap to attract and disarm army troops, slaughter the soldiers and hold their commanding General (Raf Baldassarre) for a large ransom. The arrival of the Blindman demanding his women back disrupts the plan, and sets up a war with the Blindman using Candy's obsession with Pilar among other tricks to try and negotiate the return of the women.

Blindman has a few unique elements going for it. A central character who is blind and not only surviving but thriving among the bandits of the west; a responsive horse who gallops up on cue to help the blind hero; a premise involving the delivery of mail order brides, rather than the typical pursuit of treasure or cold revenge; and Ringo Starr, just one year removed from membership in the world's most famous music band.

All this should have made for a better movie, but the script (by star Tony Anthony with Vincenzo Cerami and Pier Giovanni Anchisi) is fundamentally weak. After the first 20 minutes, Blindman reveals all its tricks, and no narrative arc, tension, or drama is created to sustain interest. The film degenerates into a series of almost randomly constructed attack and counter-attack set pieces between the Blindman and Domingo, with plenty of unlikely explosions but little to distinguish one confrontation from the other.

Director Ferdinando Baldi can only conjure up the routine, and when he does find more lyrical scenes, as in fifty women in white trying to escape on foot in the harsh desert terrain only to be hunted down by Domingo's men on horseback, the ludicrous proposition undermines the limited artistry. The Stelvio Cipriani music score also fails to move beyond the average.

The acting performances are generally perfunctory. Anthony, wearing appropriately creepy lenses, is merely adequate in delivering wooden dialogue but better at the physical aspects of portraying a blind man overcoming a severe handicap to doggedly pursue his missing women. Ringo Starr does not embarrass himself from a performance perspective, although finding answers to explain what exactly it is that he is doing in this production to begin with is a different matter. Baldi makes the mistake of crafting physical appearances that are too similar for Starr and Lloyd Battista as Candy and Domingo, reducing any interesting distinction between the two brothers.

Blindman aims for a niche, but wastefully scatters bullets all over the place, hitting no targets.

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