“They say he came from the north, like the ice wins that sweep the prairies during the great winter. Tex Willer. From the furthest reaches of the Silver Mountains to the birth of the Blue River of the long canoes, his name was spoken with respect. Death rode at his side, ready to strike anyone. who dared violate the law of white man. But his spirit soared free. It knew no boundaries. And it came to pass that even the Indian tribes learned to respect him. And they gave him the name Night Eagle. Then came the day when he joined his blood with the blood of the Navajos. And after a few moons, his forehead bore the symbol of leadership, the sacred wampum. History soon becomes entwined with legend, in the lost time between magic and reality. Let me tell you his story, then. And of the adventurous days which made him immortal.”
After an introduction like that, how can I not get excited about this movie? It’s based on the Italian comic book Tex by Sergio Bonelli, who also created Mister No and owned the comic house that published the adventures of Dylan Dog (which inspired the movies Dylan Dog and Cemetery Man).
Plans for a Tex movie had been in the works since the 1960’s, with the original goal of having Charlton Heston play Tex and Jack Palance in the role of Kit. Duccio Tessari finally directed the film, which was a pilot for a proposed Tex TV series. He’d c0-written A Fistful of Dollars with Sergio Leone and directed the Ringo series of spaghetti westerns, so he seemed like a good choice, at least from the Western aspect of Tex. Yet if you see the poster art, this movie also focuses on the fantastic aspects of the character, drawing on three stories — El Morisco, Sierra Encantada and Il signore dell’abisso.
Giuliano Gemma plays Tex. He was known for his Western films, like Day of Anger and for playing Ringo in that aforementioned series of movies. William Berger (The Sinister Eyes of Dr. Orloff, Five Dolls for an August Moon) is Kit.
They’re the on the trail of some convoy robbers who are using a secret Indian weapon that mummifies people. It turns out that a secret tribe are ready to go to war with the white man, so our heroes must stop them. Look for Bonelli as an Indian mystic in an uncredited role.
Fans of the Tex comic hated the movie, as they felt that Gemma was completely unbelievable as Tex, even to the point that he wore the wrong color shirt. According to this review, “when the film was finally shown in Venice, most people in the audience were fans of the comics, who had only bought a ticket to boo the film.”
This is a movie that has fantastic elements, sets itself up to be a bonkers genre-defying mashup and just doesn’t seem to go far enough. This would have to be quite the movie to surpass that poster art, though!