The best Sergio Leone film. Period. With this short but definitive line, I am starting today’s review of Sergio Leone’s last western: Giù la testa.
Released in 1971, after quite a lot difficulties involving cast, finances and direction, Giù la testa (Duck you, sucker! in the US) appears as Leone’s most (imho) polished film. It definitely has the best and more complex plot, it has a perfect cast (even though as previously said it wasn’t the originally intended) and a memorable soundtrack and, last but not least, it involves the director’s personal view on a such complex thing such as a revolution.
Placing the action in the beginning of the XX century, Leone confronts an idealist with a bandido, making them team together in Mexico’s Revolution. Sure we are in front of Western, an action film but, from start to finish, a lot of other themes are being examined such as convictions, ideals, loyalty or friendship.
James Coburn is an ex-IRA member, an specialist in explosives, now in Mexico for some kind of job in the mines. Rod Steiger is a Mexican bandido, with the dream of assaulting Mesa Verde’s bank. One’s dream and the other’s expertise constitute the film’s macguffin and also help the plot on developing the ideas previously comented.
Cinematography-wise, the film showcases the mandatory short planes and long planes that made Leone famous, as well as some slow-motion sequences, combined with those cheesy dialogs that the Spaghetti-Western fan will love. All that coupled with one of Morricone’s best efforts result in a really solid package.
Filming took place in Almería, same place where the Dollar Trilogy was filmed. For the curious viewer, it’s worth watching how the old train station and the city were. Remember that even though the film takes place in the Mexico from the beginning of the century, that was an European city in the late 60s!!! Simply amazing.
Giù la testa, coglione!