Navajo Joe (1966)


(director: Sergio Corbucci; screenwriters: story by Ugo Pero/Piero Regnoli/Fernando Di Leo; cinematographer: Silvano Ippoliti; editor: Alberto Gallitti; music: Leo Nichols (the alias for Ennio Morricone); cast: Burt Reynolds (Joe), Aldo Sambrell (Duncan), Nicoletta Machiavelli (Estella), Simon Arriaga (Monkey), Fernando Rey (Rattigan), Tanya Lopert (Maria), Cris Huerta (El Gordo), Franca Polesello (Barbara); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Luigi Carpentieri/Ermanno Donati; MGM; 1966-Italy/Spain-dubbed in English)

“Glorifies violence”


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Producer Dino De Laurentiis gets Burt Reynolds to appear in his first and last spaghetti Western, which bombed at the box office. Reynolds said it was the worst movie he ever made, and rails against the genre. The story is by Ugo Pero and it’s written by Piero Regnoli and Fernando Di Leo. Italian director Sergio Corbucci (“The Great Silence“/”Duel of the Titans”/”Django”) shows good craftsmanship as he keeps it taut and brutal.Though the film didn’t have much going for it, it nevertheless features the rousing music score by Ennio Morricone (using the pseudonym Leo Nichols) and is always watchable because of Silvano Ippoliti’s unconventional cinematography.

Navajo Joe (Burt Renolds) is the lone survivor of a massacre on his Navajo village by a ruthless outlaw Anglo gang led by Marvin “Vee” Duncan (Aldo Sambrell). The gang has been raiding Indian villages in the area and killing, robbing and scalping the Indians. But they’ve been told that it’s now illegal.

The survivor follows the gang in plain sight seeking revenge. Joe foils the gang’s attempt to rob a Wells Fargo train. He then gets to avenge his people when the frightened citizens of a small Western community, Esperanza, appeal to him for protection from the same plundering gang. Joe eagerly accepts their offer of one dollar for each outlaw scalp delivered and the film takes great pleasure showing the gory way he picks off the gang one by one (which ironically is the same way the Indians were massacred by the gang), saving the leader Duncan until last, and in the end getting his gruesome revenge.

It is what it is, a pic that glorifies violence and glorifies its bloodthirsty Indian superhero while preaching an anti-racist message. Reynolds gives the film an edge, but still can’t elevate its baseness or its sluggish story line. The low-budget Navajo Joe was made by Italians and Spaniards in Spain with Italian, Spanish and American actors.