• Two Films by Duccio Tessari: A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: April 24th, 2018.
    Director: Duccio Tessari
    Cast: Guilio Gemma, George Martin, Fernando Sancho, Nieves Navarro, Antonio Casas, Lorella De Luca, Manuel Muñiz, Mónica Sugranes
    Year: 1965/1965
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    The Movies:

    Arrow Video offers up the first two Ringo films, both directed by Duccio Tessari and starring Guilio Gemma as the titular lead, on one feature packed and nicely restored Blu-ray.

    A Pistol For Ringo:

    Ringo, played in this 1965 Spaghetti Western by Giuliano Gemma (the star of Tenebre) in one of his signature roles), is a charmer of a cowboy. Not afraid to sell out to the highest bidder or screw you around if it gets him what he wants (he’d of course tell you it was simply a ‘matter of principal’), the film opens with him mowing down four men out looking for him – a stunt which lands him in prison.

    It doesn’t take long for the sheriff (George Martin) to spring him out of the clink though, because a sinister bandit named Sancho (played by Fernando Sancho, star of more Spaghetti Westerns than you can shake a stick at), has robbed the town bank. Since then, Sancho has holed himself up, along with his gang, in a nearby plantation. Sancho is holding the family hostage, and one of the residents just happens to be the sheriff’s girlfriend.

    Eventually it’s decided that Ringo will be given thirty percent of the returned loot if he can infiltrate the plantation and get the owners out alive, but once he gets in there things get complicated. Sancho decides to kill two hostages a day until the law leaves him alone, and the owner of the plantation begins to fall for Sancho’s lovely lady friend, Delores (the gorgeous Nieves Narros a.k.a. Susan Scott of Joe D’Amato’s Orgasmo Nero and countless Giallos such as All The Colors Of The Dark and Death Walks At Midnight). Understandably, this is the cause of much tension between Sancho and himself.

    Eventually Ringo formulates a plan that’ll get everyone who matters out alive and see that part of the money is returned. But Sancho is no fool and he knows a lot more about Ringo and what he is up to than he is letting on at first…

    Directed with style by the late Duccio Tessari, of Tony Arzenta and this film’s sequel, A Pistol For Ringo moves along at a very nice pace from start to finish. Some of the comedic bits, usually courtesy of Ringo’s smart mouth, are a little inopportune but for the most part the laughs are understated and when the action kicks in the corny moments are easily looked past. Gemma is great in the lead, making for a likeable anti-hero. Ringo is not too far removed from other whiley outlaw heroes like Clint Eastwood’s Blondie from The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly but not quite as nasty, making him maybe a little more like the old west’s version of one of the Duke boys. Narros is gorgeous and very watchable as the bandtio-ess who falls for the classy plantation owner, understandably tired of the way that Sancho (mis)treats her, and she’s nothing if not fun to look at.

    While the film doesn’t break any new ground or even attempt to tread into unfamiliar territory or change the genre in any way, shape or form, it does a good job of following the formula. A Pistol For Ringo proves to be a slick and pretty entertaining little movie with some great cowboy action and some interesting and fun characters.

    The Return Of Ringo:

    The second film, which was made hot on the heels of the first picture, and in many ways, it is the better of the two pictures included on this disc. When the film begins, Captain Montgomery "Ringo" Brown has just returned from serving in the American Civil War to his home town of Membres. Upon his arrival, he finds out that Membres has been taken over by Esteban (Fernando Sancho) and Paco (George Martin) Fuentes and their ruthless gang of banditos! Making matters worse, his wife Helen (Lorella De Luca) has basically been kidnapped and is soon to be forced into servitude as Paco’s wife.

    Ringo decides to go undercover, posing as a Mexican-American, on hopes that he’ll be able to learn more about the Fuentes gang. In the interim, he poses as a florist’s assistant in order to stay on the downlow and befriends a kindly prostitute named Rosita (Nieves Navarro). When he learns that he had a daughter, born while he was away at war, and that the Fuentes gang intends to stage his funeral so that Paco can marry Helen, Ringo soon realizes he’s running out of time. It’s then that he recruits some of the townsfolk to help him take down the Fuentes gang once and for all…

    This second film, which really is a sequel to the first picture in name only, is a much more serious affair than the original. While some of the same players appear again and Gemma stars as a character with the same name, it’s clear that the Ringo in this movie is not the Ringo from the original film. This is most apparent in Gemma’s approach to his role, which is played completely straight without any of the goofy joking that was such a big part of the character in the earlier film. He’s quite good here, playing the brooding and serious gunslinger character rather well. He’s not on the level of an Eastwood or a Nero but he’s definitely solid in the part and it’s interesting to see him take on a darker approach to the material.

    The supporting work is also pretty good. George Martin and Fernando Sancho are both a lot of fun as the villains, as admittedly cliché and stereotyped as they may be. Martin in particular really commits to playing Paco with plenty of relish – quite the opposite of the sheriff he played in the original picture!

    The action is well-staged and frequent enough to keep the pace quick and tight. The cinematography and score are quite strong, there’s a lot of interesting camera angles and setups here that draw your eyes to them. All in all, The Return Of Ringo might not break towns of new ground or stand as the most original Spaghetti Western ever made, but it hits the right notes at the right time and provides plenty for fans of the genre to appreciate.


    Both films are presented on a 50GB Blu-ray disc in transfers taken from ‘brand new 2K restorations of both films from the original negative’ offered up framed at 2.35.1 and in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Both films look quite nice here, showing plenty of fine detail and good texture. There’s good depth to the image, those frequent Leone-inspired widescreen shots really benefit from this, while colors are reproduced very nicely. The disc is well authored, showing no compression artifacts, and both transfers appear free of noise reduction or edge enhancement issues. Skin tones look nice and natural and black levels are strong. Both movies also look very clean and clear, there’s very little print damage here at all, while grain appears naturally throughout, as it should.

    Arrow provides both the original Italian and English soundtrack options in LPCM Mono with newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack.

    Extras start off with audio commentaries for both films by ‘Spaghetti Western Experts’ C. Courtney Joyner (who wrote The Westerners: Interviews With Actors, Directors, Writers And Producers) and Henry Parke (the author of Gods And Men: The Origins Of Western Culture). These guys are clearly having a lot of fun here, discussing each movie in quite a bit of detail and with some genuine enthusiasm. There’s a lot of background detail offered on the cast and crew, some interesting observations about what sets the Ringo films apart from other Spaghetti Westerns, comments on the performances and the cinematography, a lot of information about Morricone’s work on the pictures and notes on the locations too. These are quite thorough and worth listening to.

    From there, check out They Called Him Ringo, an archival featurette with star Giuliano Gemma that runs just shy of twenty-two minutes in length. This piece actually opens with insight from Gemma’s wife, actress Lorella De Luca, before Gemma comes into the piece. Here they talk about how they met, their work together with Duccio Tessari, their thoughts on the films they made with him and more. From there, dig into the twenty-six minute A Western Greek Tragedy, which is an archival featurette with Lorella de Luca and camera operator Sergio D’Offizi where they discuss the contributions of the cast and crew, the source material that inspired the first film, and some of the tricks of the trade that D’Offizi used to nail down certain shots required during the shoot. Revisiting Ringo is a new video thirty-eight-minute interview with critic (and ‘Ringo fan’) Tony Rayns who speaks at length about Tessari’s life and his filmography and how his popularity as a genre filmmaker kept him busy during the boom years of Italian cinema. He also explains the appeal of the Ringo character and makes some interesting comparisons between these films and other pictures made inside and outside of Italy during the same era.

    Rounding out the extra features on the disc is a still gallery of original promotional images from the Mike Siegal Archive, original trailers for each film, a gallery of original promotional images, menus and chapter selection. Finish product is said to come with a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx as well as an insert book containing an essay on the film by Howard Hughes and an interview with Tessari.

    The Final Word:

    Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Two Films by Duccio Tessari: A Pistol for Ringo & The Return of Ringo is a good one, presenting two seriously entertaining Spaghetti Westerns in very nice presentations and with some quality supplements too. Those who need their Spaghetti Westerns’ dark and serious might not see the appeal of the first film, but if you appreciate the lighter side of the genre, it’s a kick while the second picture plays as a well-made and more serious entry in the genre.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!