Navajo Joe (1967)

Viewed March 15th

Navajo Joe (Burt Reynolds) tracks down the white bandits who ruthlessly killed his wife.

An enjoyably down and dirty affair. The great Italian director Sergio Corbucci gives us Navajo Joe, the soft-spoken killing machine, racking up a body count in a stream of brutal, visceral shots maximized for cinematic punch. It feels like an anti-imperial but ultimately racist comic book come to life. Bodies set off against epic backdrops twist and turn at dynamic angles; flecks of blood and leather spray off bullet wounds from rapid fire rifle blasts; all of it set to the great Morricone theme song that anyone who sees this movie is guaranteed to be humming as they leave. However, there's not even a hint of depth (certainly less than Corbucci's masterpiece The Great Silence) and because of that it feels maybe twenty minutes too long. It should have just been a study in gritty b-movie violence and ditched any pretense at story. There's of course something interesting about having a Native American as the anti-hero killing white people, but Corbucci doesn't seem interested in doing anything with that, and (of course) the fact that it's a white guy playing him is a problem. Still, though...it's Corbucci. He was a great film artist. He knew how to stage action in the frame and cut these frames together to make it all overflow from the screen and worm its way into your mind as a dirty, bloody, sun-baked fantasy.