A MAN CALLED SLEDGE
(director/writer: Vic Morrow; screenwriter: Frank Kowalski; cinematographer: Luigi Kuveiller; editor: Renzo Lucidi; music: Gianni Ferrio; cast: James Garner (Luther Sledge), Dennis Weaver (Ward), Claude Akins (Hooker), John Marley (The Old Man), Lorenzo Fineschi (Toby), Laura Antonelli (Ria), Tony Young (Mallory), Wayde Preston (Sheriff Ripley), Mario Valgoi (Beetle), Bruno Corazzari (Bice), Altiero Di Giovanni (Kehoe); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Dino De Laurentiis; Columbia Pictures; 1970)
“Gets the violence part right, but there’s not much else to the tired plot line.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A minor undistinguished spaghetti Western with the genial James Garner going against type as a heavy. It’s turgidly directed by Vic Morrow, who is co-writer with Frank Kowalski. “Sledge” gets the violence part right, but there’s not much else to the tired plot line and it’s played without any humor. It’s filmed in Italy with a mostly Italian cast, with the Americans in lead roles.
Wanted outlaw Luther Sledge (James Garner) and partner Mallory (Tony Young) holdup the stage and accidently kill the stage driver. They retreat to the nearby Three W’s saloon, where Mallory gets into a poker game and Sledge beds down with his squeeze Ria (Laura Antonelli). After winning, Mallory is shot in the back. Sledge comes down to the bar in his long johns and avenges his crime partner’s death by killing the two gunmen. There he meets an ex-con old man (John Marley), who takes him to a prison fortress, his former residence, where they keep $300,000 in gold stored in a cell. The gold is escorted by 40-cavalry soldiers from the mine to the prison, as Sledge is obsessed with robbing the gold and retiring with the lovely Ria.
Sledge’s gang, after many travails, succeeds in the heist but afterwards a fallen out develops among the thieves. Sledge winds up with all the gold and his gang led by the untrustworthy Ward (Dennis Weaver), Hooker (Claude Akins), Bice, Kehoe, and the old man, try to wrest it from him. They follow Sledge across the border to a deserted Mexican town, conveniently away celebrating a religious ceremony. There Sledge gets into a showdown with the old man, the last one standing in his way, as he faces him with a broken arm that has a crucifix strapped on for support, so he will be able to use his gun, as he ponders if he really needed the gold and all this angst. That’s about how imaginative the film gets.
REVIEWED ON 8/16/2005 GRADE: C https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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