Man of the East is a vehicle for Terence Hill, directed by Enzo Barboni and written by E.B. Clucher*. Barboni had tremendous success parodying the Italian western genre, starting with They Call Me Trinity and then following that with the even bigger Trinity Is STILL My Name!
These movies follow a pretty simple formula of Hill and Bud Spencer as a comedy duo. Every once in a while, they’d make solo films, which this one being a good example.
It’s really close to the story “The Tenderfoot” from the Lucky Luke comic. Hill would go on to direct and star in an adaption of the overall comic, so this may be no accident.
Sir Thomas Fitzpatrick Phillip Moore (Hill) has come from England at the request of his father, who had to leave the country behind after an affair got him in trouble. His father wants him to see the country he had come to love, which brings our hero into the orbit of his dad’s associates, stagecoach robbers Monkey Smith (Dominic Barto, Jungle Warriors), Holy Joe (Harry Carey Jr., a John Ford company actor) and Bull Smith (Gregory Walcott, Plan 9 from Outer Space).
Thomas’ father — known as the Englishman — wants his hapless gang to turn his son into a man, as his head is in the clouds. He’d rather ride a bike than a horse and refuses to skip baths. However, he’s great with the ladies, as he quickly woos Candida Olsen (Yanti Somer, Star Odyssey) with his knowledge of Lord Byron.
This puts him into conflict with her rich father Frank (Enzo Fiermonte, War of the Planets), who doesn’t think he’s good enough for her, and Morton Clayton (Riccardo Pizzuti, the creature in Lady Frankenstein), one of their ranch hands who has his eyes set on Candida.
The gang teaches Thomas how to fight, shoot and spit tobacco, which he takes to quite well and ends up winning the day. That’s to be expected. What isn’t is the sadness underpinning this movie, which sees the gang facing the progress of technology and realizing that soon, the west that they know will no longer exist.
Another odd thing to watch out for is the opening credits and subsequent transition shots are B-roll from Support Your Local Gunfighter.
You can get this from Kino Lorber on a new blu ray, which looks gorgeous. Here’s to them releasing more little known Italian westerns!
*E.B. Clucher is…Enzo Barboni. Just look at the initials.