Quién sabe? (1966)

With a title that translates as Who Knows?, this was renamed A Bullet for the General when it was released in the U.S. It’s the first Italian western to seriously deal with the Mexican revolution, which is credited to screenwriter Franco Solinas, a confirmed Marxist, who shared screenplay duties with Salvatore Laurani. It was directed by Damiano Damiani, who was no stranger to movies with political commentary, except for the movie he’s best known for in the U.S., Amityville II: The Possession.

Gian Maria Volonté plays El Chuncho Muños, who is considered the hero — I guess — of this film, who attacks a train and adds American Bill “Niño” Tate (played by Lou Castel with William Berger providing his voice). The foreigner manipulates Chuncho throughout and is present for the deaths of nearly all of his men as well as the death of his brother El Santo (Klaus Kinski, not the masked luchador, but man, Klaus Kinski and Santo in a movie is something I want to see).

It has Martine Beswick in the cast, an actress whose career ranges from Thunderball and Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde to The Happy Hooker Goes HollywoodTrancers II and so much more.

There’s also an urban legend that Damiani got so fed up with the hijinks of Gian Maria Volontè and Kinski that he beat them and whipped them on the set until they finally behaved.

The first Zapata western — one that deals with the Mexican revolution — this movie ends with money being thrown and the poor being told to buy dynamite instead of bread. The idealism of revolution is forever co-opted by greed and this movie shoves your face in it and laughs, because even a movie made nearly sixty years ago understands the same issues we’re dealing with today, ones that will never go away. Friendship means nothing, ideals mean nothing, only gold. Anyone, everyone will be sold out and left for dead.

You can watch this on Tubi.

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