Friday, May 14, 2004

The Spaghetti Files: A Man Called Sledge (1970)

James Garner, playing against type, is Sledge. And he’s a very bad man. A ruthless bandit and killer, Sledge is one guy you do not want to get involved with. But Sledge is getting old and he’s looking to cash out, so to speak. Just one more score should do the trick. He’s got an experienced bunch of gunslingers with him -- including Claude Akins and Dennis Weaver -- and the big payoff awaiting them is definitely worth the risk. Only problem is . . . the payoff (a cache of gold that could keep a small country afloat) is inside a federal prison.

Directed by American actor Vic Morrow (The Blackboard Jungle, Twilight Zone: The Movie), the film was shot in Spain with an Italian crew and subsequently feels a lot more like a Spaghetti Western than its American Western peers. Morally complex, violent, and with an attention for the gritty anti-poetic details of life in the wild, wild west that its American counterparts of the time eschewed (Sam Peckinpah excluded), A Man Called Sledge is a sadly underrated good time.

A Man Called Sledge is available on DVD from Columbia-TriStar Home Entertainment.

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