The next spaghetti western on this list foreshadows where the subgenre was eventually heading: comedy. This may disappoint some enthusiasts. However, it doesn’t mean the picture isn't worth viewing.
Fresh off the set from the first Sartana movie, director Gianfranco Parolini turned his attention to a new project. With a new lead character, this movie capitalized on what Parolini previously achieved with Sartana. In fact, if you take all the craziness you’ve seen in other spaghetti westerns, enhance the dark humor, and sever the ties of realism, that’s what you get in Sabata.
Sabata is a man of few words, but a lot of action. After stopping a staged bank robbery, the mysterious gunman (yet again Lee Van Cleef) seeks to bring down the powerful barons who try to steal their own money and sell their town to a railroad company.
The story is told through a series of vignettes where the antihero defends himself from multiple assassination attempts. Like Sartana, Sabata has unique weapons, like a four-barrel derringer and a Winchester rifle with an extended barrel. But compared to Sartana, the tight-lipped gunman seems to possess more superhuman marksmanship skills, such as shooting bank robbers from a 100-foot mountain cliff.
The movie is also known for its idiosyncratic characters: a banjo-playing drifter named Banjo, a knife-hurling war veteran whose spoken sentences usually end with an insane laugh, a mute, acrobatic Native American, and a powdered-faced villain (Franco Ressel, another spaghetti regular), who carries a dart gun in his cane and reads books with titles such as “Inequality is the Basis of Society.”
Unlike Sartana, Parolini stayed on board to direct two official sequels: Adiós, Sabata and Return of Sabata. Both sequels feature more colorful characters, more fast action, more unique weapons and gadgets, and more acrobats. The success of the Sabata Trilogy furthermore spawned several imitators, using the same antihero.
Sabata contains the cartoonish thrill rides and extraordinary characters that no one should overlook when they’re engaging in subgenre nostalgia.
Trivia: In Adiós, Sabata, the lead role was then played by actor Yul Brynner. Ironically, before returning for Return of Sabata, Lee Van Cleef was busy starring as Chris Adams in The Magnificent Seven Ride; a role which Brynner had made famous in The Magnificent Seven.
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