Keoma (1976)


(director/writer: Enzo G. Castellari; screenwriter:Nico Ducci/ Mino Roli/story by George Eastman; cinematographer: Ajace Parolin; editor: Gianfranco Amicucci ; music: Maurizio De Angelis /Guido De Angelis ; cast: Franco Nero (Keoma Shannon), Donald O’Brien (Caldwell), Orso Maria Guerrini (Butch Shannon), Gabriella Giacobbe (The Witch), Victoria Zinny (Brothel Owner), Antonio Marsina (Lenny Shannon), William Berger (William Shannon), Olga Karlatos (Liza Farrow), Woody Strode (George), Joshua Sinclair (Sam Shannon), Leonardo Scavino (Doctor), Wolfango Soldati (Confederate Soldier), Alfio Caltabiano (Member of Caldwell’s Gang); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Manolo Bolognini ; Argent Films (Mill Creek Entertainment); 1976-Italy-in English)

“One of the genre’s more intriguing films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Enzo G. Castellari(“Hammerhead”/”Eagles Over London”/”Striker”). supposedly Tarantino’s favorite director, helms and co-writes this elegant spaghetti western. It was largely improvised from a story by George Eastman. It’s one of the genre’s more intriguing films. It deals in civil rights issues, racism, a ranting witch, family feuds, slo-mo shoot-outs, a surrealist style, biblical references, a hero Christ-like figure crucified on a wheel, and an allegorical conclusion warning against fascism.

Returning from the Civil War, the half-breed Indian Keoma (Franco Nero), rejected by his older, abusive white brothers, returns to the Southern home of his white father to save the plague-ridden town from the control of a ruthless ex-Confederate raider named Caldwell (Donald O’Brien). His half-brothers, against their father’s wishes, have sided with the evil Caldwell. On his way home, Keoma rescues from a hooded gang the pregnant vic of the unnamed plague, Olga Karlatos.

The return results in the mysterious Keoma teaming with former family black slave George (Woody Strove) to battle with his three half-brothers and the Caldwell gang for control of the town.

One of its main flaws, is the clunky music. The other is too many pretentious slo-mo shots. Finally, it never develops any of its themes in depth before racing on to another episode.

Keoma is considered by many critics as one of the last great spaghetti westerns.