Duccio Tessari is one of the fathers of the Italian Western, co-writing Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars. He also wrote Bava’s astounding Hercules In the Haunted World and would go on to write and direct films like Kiss Kiss…Bang Bang, The Bloodstained Butterfly and Tex and the Lord of the Deep.
Instead of a silent Man with No Name, Tessari based Ringo on the real-life Johnny Ringo and created a well-dressed, talkative cowboy who drank milk while so many others enjoyed whiskey. It helped that he had such a great talent in Giuliano Gemma, who would go on to play Arizona Colt and also appear in Westerns like Day of Anger and Long Days of Vengeance. He was billed here as Montgomery Wood.
Ringo starts the movie in prison for killing four men in a gunfight. He is released only if he rescues a land baron and his daughter from a gang of bandits led by Sancho.
Sancho also has an evil girlfriend named Delores who gets her claws into the land baron and tries to save her man through her feminine wiles. That makes perfect sense when you realize that she’s played by giallo queen Nieves Navarro (Death Walks at Midnight, All the Colors of the Dark, Death Walks On High Heels).
Known as Ballad of Death Valley in the U.S., where it was a success, this movie begat an official sequel, The Return of Ringo, as well as numerous Ringo titled films.
It’s theme song by Morricone also rose to number one on the Italian music charts.
Ringo’s motto is “God created all men equal, the Colt made them different.” Your mileage may vary for the many Italian Westerns made in the wake of Leone’s success. This is one of the better examples of the genre.