On this day, 12 May, in 1965, A Pistol for Ringo was released.
I know what you’re thinking, “Another Spaghetti Western?!” Well, yes. There are a lot of great Spaghetti Westerns, and this one is among the best. It was made shortly after A Fistful of Dollars by Duccio Tessari, who had worked on that script.
It doesn’t have quite the same feel as the earlier film. But then, neither did Sergio Leone’s later films. A Pistol for Ringo comes off more like For a Few Dollars More.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Leone was the greater director. But equally, Tessari was the better writer and storyteller. I often feel that Leone gets lost in his own obsessions. Like the long rape scene at the beginning of Duck, You Sucker! I’m not sure what the point is even supposed to be much less what it is.
What’s more, Leone’s sense of humor rarely elicits a laugh whereas Tessari effortlessly produces belly-laughs. At the same time, his films are every bit as gritty.
In A Pistol for Ringo, the title character is extremely charming. He is also a complete psychopath who loves putting people in situations where he can kill them “in self-defense.” In one scene at the beginning, he’s playing hopscotch with some kids right before gunning four men down.
And there’s no “out-drawing” others. He just kills them before they even go for their guns. And thank God! Only an idiot would try to “out-draw” someone.
There’s one other way that Duccio Tessari is better than Sergio Leone: he directed a lot more films! He made films of various genres — including one blaxploitation film. And he still managed to make more Spaghetti Westerns!
I love Leone’s work. But at times they can be ponderous. Tessari made entertaining films and managed to be quite innovative, even if relatively few outside Italy know it.
A Pistol for Ringo poster via Wikipedia under Fair Use.