full of law and order versus chaos and violence; stand
offs between two men who hold opposing virtues in equal measure and
consider their respective cause as worthy enough to fight for. In
most cases, the sheriff who wants to uphold the sanctity of peace and
goodwill in his far flung town, and the six-shooter who wants to get
everything he wants through violence at any cost to human life.
This exciting new re-released Spaghetti western flips the ideas of law
and order, right and wrong, order and chaos and the identity of the
good guy in westerns on its head.
Faccia a Faccia, is directed by Sergio Sollima (The Big Gundown) and
tells the story of a retiring professor Brad Fletcher (Gian Maria
Volante) who due to his poor health moves west for warmer
climate. As soon as he arrives, he is taken hostage by the bandit
Bennett (Tomas Milian) and has to live with the gang.
After initial reluctance, he finds a calling amongst his fellow
criminal cohorts, taking to crime and thuggery with ease. This
leads to Fletcher overthrowing Bennett and initiating a crueller system
of leadership instead, so in essence a standoff between two villains
forms the central relationship and conflict of this film; the generic
modification being that the more evil villain of the two was once a
I can see initial similarity to John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty
Valance, where James Stewart's character Rance Stoddard when also
moving west from the east attempts to incorporate his learned skills of
knowledge upon the illiterate townsfolk with limited success.
Much like Fletcher, Stoddard is assaulted by Liberty Valance (Lee
Marvin) on his first night in town and as John Wayne's Tom Doniphon
explains to Stoddard - you have to fight fire with fire, and as much as
Stoddard wants Valance put behind bars, violence is the only solution
to a mind like Valance. And so the famous conclusion with the
realisation, and the memorable, 'when the myth becomes fact, print the
myth' holds greater sway as Stoddard is now an elected Senator on the
back of his feat of being said man.
The new print format on this DVD release from Eureka! entertainment
features stunning cinematography in glorious Techniscope and a
thrilling orchestral score from the renowned Ennio Morricone.
The pictures and the framing of the action in this Texas landscape is
helped by the ruthless and convincing performances by the esteemed
cast. Spaghetti westerns (western genre pictures produced in
Italy) were made famous by Sergio Leone's Dollars (1964-66) trilogy
featuring Clint Eastwood in the mid-1960s and this production made in
1967 is symptomatic of those thrilling films, retaining the same zest
for excitement and thrill seeking.
Not to do a discredit this picture, it does convincingly portray a
picture what the cruelty and ruthless west must have been like - the
dynamic relationship between the learned Fletcher and outlaw Bennett,
and how cleverly the educated man from the east attempts to takeover
the man of the west, can be interpreted as a comment on imperialism
which coming from a European viewpoint is both tantalising and
However, as the western genre lives on mythologising men to epic status
above their station as sheep herders and cattle ranchers; so this
authentic slice of stylish 1960s Italian cinema, this film is ripe for
reappraisal and should be allowed to create its own myths.
The DVD contains the original Italian audio with new English subtitles,
and new Technicolour print; US and Italian theatrical trailers; an
interview with director Sergio Sollima, a lavish 16 page booklet
containing a new essay by spaghetti western expert Howard Hughes.
Available from Eureka! on 20 June 2011 on both Blu-Ray and DVD.