Ehi amico... c’è Sabata, hai chiuso!
The style is all fun-filled gags, with nothing to spare. Parolini is a demon behind the camera. His specialty is the zoom in or out, and the whip pan is a favorite, also cutting away from these to a lateral tracking shot at another angle. The ferocious stile nuovo is a conscious liberation of the cinema in accord with his theories of dramaturgy, the cinema as flickers.
Useless to describe or even itemize the gags of even one composite sequence, but here’s one little scene built around a main gag. In the vestry, Sabata meets a faux priest (he resembles Peter Lorre) who coughs nervously and turns to face the camera away from him; the priest pulls out a blue handkerchief, and sure enough there’s a derringer wrapped inside it. He’s weighing his move when Sabata counterplays by placing his satchel on the table. “This is for you,” he says, and when the impostor goes to grab it, Sabata pulls a chain which fires a bullet from inside the satchel, killing the fellow. Sabata opens the satchel to check his own derringer, then starts to leave. At the door, he turns around to look at the faux priest on the floor with the handkerchief and derringer beside his hand. After a moment, Sabata fishes up a coin and flings it to him.
A subtle variant of the man in black on the witty side is what Lee Van Cleef has, who that year also played a tower of strength in Barquero and a slack-jawed prospector in El Condor.
The title, which is sung over the credits (over a varied POV of Sabata coming to town), means as one may suppose, “Hey pardner... it’s Sabata, you’re through!”
The Juaristas hire Sabata to lead a small team of revolutionaries after a wagon full of gold dust shipped by Emperor Maximilian’s Col. Skimmel in command of a fort. Austrians disguised as Mexicans attack the shipment first, which turns out to be sand.
The object of the revolutionaries is at first to buy guns in Texas, but as the Austrian forces wane, the benefits of peace loom larger. Skimmel and his intelligence operatives in Texas have a scheme to transport the gold there in a great barrel, themselves disguised as “honest beer merchants”.
Parolini is hell on wheels (as Frank Kramer), he has the nature and instinct of a photographer, the zoom adopts another view of the landscape, near or far, it’s a selection. Furthermore, he never misses the chance of a picture to create the substantial force of a scene. The revolving weathercock painted and squeaking at the opening gunfight (after the monastery prologue), the flashing spurs of Gitano’s “flamenco of death”, the broken, soiled mirror of the music box that enchants Septiembre, and so on. The instantaneous gag is a forte.
Col. Skimmel’s target practice on captives allowed to escape for this purpose is concurrent with Russell’s French king in The Devils.
Sabata’s dubious partner is a young American portrait painter to Skimmel, his work is seen at various stages in the film.
The theme of divine justice is evidently developed by Parolini in God’s Gun and makes its way to Eastwood’s Pale Rider.
Return of Sabata (È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un’altra volta)
The screenplay pays homage to a Western comedy masterpiece in the name of the villainous overlord of Hobsonville. Signs everywhere proclaim the massive building projects McIntock has upped the taxes for, but Sabata learns it’s all a sham, there’s counterfeit money in the bank, and real gold on its way elsewhere.
Parolini has the liveliest sense of cinema going. The camera is behind the preacher as he delivers the sermon, and stays on him as the congregation departs and he ducks down into the pulpit for a slug of whiskey, with a quick look of grateful relief past the camera toward the unseen altar.
On the left of the screen, McIntock is lingering, until a messenger brings him some very bad news. They take the camera to a side altar on the right, facing the middle of the church in a two-shot with a golden crucifix between it and the men. McIntock, a man of piety, reaches out and ruefully turns the crucifix around with one hand, so that the hanging figure of Jesus is seen on the arms of the cross adorned with rubies. Now he viciously strikes the messenger, converses with him further, and the shot ends swiftly once he has turned the crucifix back around.
The essence of Parolini is the entire flexibility of his technique, the instantaneity of his images. You can sum it all up in a single shot, the camera following a pistol snappily thrust into its holster, yet how many shots are peculiarly distinctive, the man who falls from a water tower à la F Troop and then bounces into the air, an acrobat... the deaths of Sabata and his ally, feigned in anticipation of The Sting two years later... the town of Hobsonville, where an old acquaintance recognizes Sabata in the crowd and flees him helplessly, whithersoever he goes, Sabata is there.
“A film by Frank Kramer”.