My Name is Nobody
Italy - France - Germany / 1973
Directed by Tonino Valerii
Starring
Henry Fonda
Terence Hill
R.G. Armstrong
Color / 115 Minutes / PG
Format: DVD (R1 - NTSC)
Image Entertainment
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6
    5   10 = Highest Rating  
Guest Review by Troy Howarth
An aging gunslinger (Henry Fonda) is looking to retire, but a young man (Terence Hill) who idolizes him isn't making it easy...
    Based on an idea by producer Sergio Leone, My Name is Nobody is a genteel addition to the Spaghetti Western canon. In common with Leone's grittier directorial works, the film attempts to reckon with the romanticized portrait of the west by deflating conventional clichés and stereotypes. Ultimately, director Tonino Valerii and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi have too much fun yukking it up to really succeed on that front, but the film still has a lot to admire.
    Henry Fonda in his second collaboration with Leone, following the extraordinary Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) excels as the easygoing gunslinger Jack Beauregard. Though older and plagued by worsening eye sight, he's still as much of a crack shot as ever, and the iconic American actor anchors the film in reality. Fonda, who had been Leone's original choice to star in A Fistful of Dollars (1964), approaches the film with a nice mixture of irony and sincerity, thus elevating it to a different tier than the typical comedic SW, typified by the Trinity series. The star of the Trinity films, Terence Hill, is less satisfactory. His mugging grows tiresome by the midpoint, though he does share a few nice moments with Fonda along the way. The supporting cast includes some familiar faces from Leone's previous films, including Mario Brega (a Leone mainstay from Fistful until Once Upon a Time in America) and Antoine St. John (Duck, You Sucker, also recognizable from Eurohorrors such as The Killer Must Kill Again and The Beyond), as well as a few American character actors with western associations, including Geoffrey Lewis (Salem's Lot, High Plains Drifter), R.G. Armstrong (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) and Leo Gordon (The Haunted Palace, The Intruder). Apart from Fonda, the remainder of the cast is dubbed by other actors.
   
The technical credits read like a typical Leone-directed picture: Ennio Morricone provides the quirky music score (some will no doubt find it irritating, but I loved it), Nino Baragli does the editing, and cinematographer Giuseppe Ruzzolini had just photographed the underrated Duck, You Sucker for the director. Director Valerii, who also helmed the interesting giallo My Dear Killer (1971), does a decent job with the material and shows a tremendous visual flair much like Leone himself. However, his handling of the humorous aspects tends to be a little too heavy, with some embarrassing fast-motion photography sticking out like a sore thumb. If the film has a major flaw it's that it's too goodnatured it's difficult to fear for the characters, even if they are likable, when it's so apparent that this is one Spaghetti Western where violence and greed aren't the dominating principles.
    Though imperfect, My Name is Nobody is still worth a view for Spaghetti Western, Fonda and Leone buffs. At the very least, it's better crafted and more entertaining than some of the other SWs that have been released to DVD in recent years.

Image's release of My Name is Nobody represents the film's DVD debut in the U.S. The 2.35/16x9 image looks nice overall, though there are a handful of washed out shots and an irritating "shimmering" effect is noticeable in the background of some scenes. Nonetheless, the framing does justice to Valerii's skillful use of the Panavision frame and gives the film an impressive sense of scope. The mono soundtrack, dubbed in English, is clear and potent. Morricone's score comes through very well and the limitations are a result of the post-synching rather than the authoring. Extras are nonexistent, which is a shame, but at least the film is finally available on DVD. 7/03/05

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