La Vengeance De Ringo (Fr), Los Cuatro Salvajes (Es), Ringo, Il Volto Della Vendetta (I), Es Geht Um Deinen Kopf Amigo! (WG)
La Cinematografica "Emmeci" (Rome), Estela Film (Madrid)
Director: Mario Caiano
Story: Eduardo Brochero
Script: Eduardo Brochero, Mario Caiano
Cinematography: Julio Ortas
Music: Francesco De Masi (published by CAM RCA)
Editor: Antonio Gimeno
Set designers: E Cubero [Jaime Perez Cubero], Jose Luis Galicia
Filmed on location in Spain (Madrid, Almeria) and at Elios Studios (Rome)
Release details: Spain (23.05.68), Italy (registered 26.08.66, first shown 26.08.66, 83 mins), Germany (20.06.68, 88 mins)
Spanish takings: 179.014,04 €
Cast: Anthony Steffen [Antonio De Teffè] (Ringo
), Frank Wolff (Ferguson
), Armando Calvo (Fidel
), Alejandro Nilo (Manuela
), Alfonso Goda (Sam Dillinger
), Amedeo Trill, Ricardo Canales, Eduardo Fajardo (Tim
), Rafael Vakero, Manuel Bermúdez, Antonio Orengo
Ringo (Anthony Steffen) and his sidekick Tim (Eduardo Fajardo) save a Mexican, Fidel (Armando Calvo), from some banditos in the hope of a reward. He gives them a measly two dollars and tells them that his pursuers were after 'information'. Sensing that there may be some money to be made, they follow him to Silverville. Here they help him out again when he becomes embroiled in a barroom brawl with the local card shark, Ferguson (Frank Wolff) and his men. Whilst nursing him back to health they find a map tattooed onto his back. Under pressure and knowing that he needs their protection, he reveals his tale: whilst in prison an American friend and he had shared a cell with a notorious criminal who, just before dying, had revealed the hidden whereabouts of his last haul - two bags of gold dust. In order to make sure that they couldn't double-cross each other, the two remaining cell-mates had each had half of the treasure map etched onto their respective backs.
The three of them decide to find the American and hence the treasure. However, Ferguson - who has eavesdropped on their conversation - gives them little choice but to let him join them. Predictably enough, once they find the American, who now happens to be Sheriff, he isn't overly friendly and promptly arranges for a posse to capture and lynch them. Fortunately they have the masterstroke of burning the map from Fidel's back (a typically nasty italianesque touch) after making and hiding a copy of it. An uneasy partnership is forged between them, but it isn't too long until they're all trying to betray each other (apart from the stalwart Ringo, of course). With this being a spaghetti, there also has to be a band of scumball Mexicanos waiting to become involved with proceedings somewhere along the line.
This is another one of those 'treasure hunt' westerns, which seems to argue that "too much gold is bad for the health". The daddy of the genre is, of course, The Good the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto, iul cattivo, 66), but other examples of the genre would have to include The Moment to Kill (Il momento di uccidere, 68), The Great Treasure Hunt (Monta in sella, figlio di...!, 67) and virtually any of the Sartana films. Of course, it's not too problematical to trace the whole subgenre back to John Huston's superlative Treasure of the Sierra Madre (48). It also shares the 'tattooed map on body parts' motif with Antonio Margheriti's lightweight Stranger and the Gunfighter (73).
Whatever, Ringo: the Mark of Revenge is a sturdy if unspectacular genre entry, which manages to pick up notably in the second half. At this point - once the shaky alliance between the characters begins to implode - the rather humdrum proceedings take on a darker tone and the script knuckles down to the job of providing some gritty thrills. This is all helped along by the fact that it looks fantastic and that there are some memorably nasty moments (not least the aforementioned tattoo removal).
Overall, though, the film can't escape from it's rather old fashioned feel, similar to that which director Caiano brought to A Train to Durango (Un treno per durango, 67). With that film it also shares some rather eccentric casting. Whilst Steffen is perfectly adequate at portraying wounded inscrutability, he's less adept at more frivolous roles such as this (which would be more suited to Giualiano Gemma or George Hilton). Whereas in Durango his co-star was a woefully miscast Enrico Maria Salerno, here he's teamed with (once more) Eduardo Fajardo - who's tasked with playing a drunken, jolly and scruffy saddletramp. Although he does adequately in the role, it's not really until he suddenly turns into a drink-crazed rapist (for no apparent reason) that you begin to see the Fajardo that we all know and love. Fortunately, Frank Wolff is allowed to do what he does best; steal the entire show with an obsequious performance that is an interesting variation upon the one he essayed in Mino Loy's superb Desert Battle (69). Caiano directed quite a few westerns (the best of which was probably The Name that Cried for Revenge (Il Suo nome gridava vendetta, 68)). None of them really matched his sterling work in other genres such as Spies Strike Silent (Le Spie uccidono in silenzio, 66), Eye in the Labyrinth (L'occhio nel labirinto, 71) and Weopans of Death (Napoli spara, 76).
Finally, I must end with the simply great blurb on the back of the video (don't even ask where this one came from): 'Vengeance is served in led by Ringo. Bandits, colonist, a cheat and a sheriff are looking for a fabulous treasure. It will be found out by a quiet, solitary hero, but many people died for that' (sic). Make of that what you will.