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AMERICANO, THE(director: William Castle; screenwriters: story by Leslie T. White/Guy Troper; cinematographer: William Snyder; editor: Harry Marker; music: Roy Webb; cast: Glenn Ford (Sam Dent), Cesar Romero (Manuel/’El Gato’), Frank Lovejoy (Bento Hermanny), Abby Lane (Teresa), Ursula Thiess (Marianna Figuerido), Rodolfo Hoyos (Cristino), Dan White (Barney Dent), George Navarro (Tuba), Capt. Gonzales (Salvador Baguez); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Stillman; RKO; 1955)
“As appealing as a hike through the Amazon without mosquito repellent.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An inferior South-of-the-Border Western: dull and awkwardly directed by exploitation maven William Castle. Glenn Ford has a bewildered look on his kisser throughout, and it ain’t only from wondering what he’s doing in the jungle watching Abby Lane do some hot Latino nightclub dancing numbers in the middle of a range war. William Castle directed the Hollywood studio scenes while Budd Boetticher, whose project this originally was, directed the Brazilian scenes. What they both had in common, was keeping things ponderous and the narrative barely literate. This RKO produced film was a bigger budget than usual for a Castle film. It’s based on a story by Leslie T. White and penned by Guy Troper.

Sam Dent (Glenn Ford) is a struggling small-time Texas rancher who dreams of owning a big cattle spread with his married brother Barney. They are partners in three prize Brahma bulls, which they sell for $25,000 to a wealthy Brazilian cattle baron. The catch is, that it’s cash on delivery. Sam crosses alone by boat with the bulls. At Boa Vista, a jovial bandito named Manuel (Cesar Romero) informs Sam that his buyer was murdered in the local saloon. Manuel acts as a guide to take Sam and the bulls to the new owner, the former foreman, Bento Hermanny (Frank Lovejoy). They cross 60 miles of jungle where they must overcome crocodiles while crossing the river, snakes and a big cat in the jungle, and Bento’s unfriendly shoestring rancher neighbor Marianna Figuerido (Ursula Thiess). She insists on taking his bulls because he’s trespassing. When he finally reaches the ranch, Sam discovers that Bento is a psychopathic murderer and an unscrupulous greedy land grabber, with designs on taking over all the ranches in the area. After Sam refuses Bento’s offer to stay on, he’s jumped by Bento’s ruthless foreman and robbed of the $25,000. Sam returns to Bento’s ranch and soon learns that Manuel is a good bandito and Marianna is a good-hearted small rancher who befriends the poor Brazilian farmers and lets them be squatters on her spread. While setting out to get his money back, get Bento and his foreman arrested for a series of murders and prevent a range war from continuing, Sam takes time off to romance Marianna.

In the lush and exotic setting for a Western, the only twist is that it has a different look to it. Otherwise, it’s as appealing as a hike through the Amazon without mosquito repellent.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”