Wednesday Western: 'Sabata'
Lee Van Cleef has deadly aim
Free for you to view on YouTube: Sabata, a violent 1969 Spaghetti Western spiced with dollops of dark comedy, starring Lee Van Cleef in the title role as a gunfighter whose unfailing accuracy serves him well when he rides into a small Texas town.
Sabata is the right man in the right place when he foils a bank robbery and dispatches the bandits. As it turns out, however, the robbery was masterminded by three seemingly upright citizens who want the cash to buy land that will greatly increase in value when the railroad comes through.
When Sabata attempts to blackmail the conspirators, they in turn hire gunslingers to rid themselves of “the man with gunsight eyes” (as Van Cleef’s character was described in the movie’s original ad campaign). Nothing good comes of this.
Sabata was directed by Gianfranco Parolini, a prolific Italian filmmaker often credited as Frank Kramer. He would later direct two sequels to this international box-office hit: Adios, Sabata (1970), in which Magnificent Seven star Yul Brynner assumed the lead role, and Return of Sabata (1971), which brought Van Cleef back for more gunblazing action. Parolini also kicked off another successful Spaghetti Western series in 1968 when he directed If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death, a film that spawned several sequels (and quite a few unauthorized knock-offs).