My Name is Nobody

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) is a tired, aging legendary gunslinger who just wants to retire in peace in Europe to get away from young gunmen constantly trying to test themselves against the master. The film opens with three gunmen attempting to ambush Beauregard in a barbershop. After Beauregard has dispatched them, the barber’s son asks his father if there is anyone in the world faster than Beauregard, to which the barber replies “Faster than him? Nobody!”

‘Nobody’ (Terence Hill) idolizes Beauregard and wants him to increase his fame by facing off the 150-man-strong Wild Bunch singlehanded. The Wild Bunch are a gang of bandits who launder their loot of stolen gold via a fake goldmine. The owner of the goldmine sends them after Beauregard because Beauregard’s now-dead brother was in on the deal.

Nobody dogs Beauregard through the west, encountering many who wish him dead, and pesters him to let him stage his grand finale. Eventually, the grand shoot-out takes place by a railway line. Nobody arranges for Beauregard to shoot at the Wild Bunch’s mirrored-concho-decorated saddles which, he discovered earlier, contain sticks of dynamite, thus letting a few good shots eliminate many of the men. To escape, the two board a train that Nobody has stolen.

Finally, Nobody fakes a very public showdown in New Orleans with Beauregard, “killing” him and allowing him to slip away quietly. A street sign, marking where the gunfight took place, says “Nobody Was Faster On The Draw”. Beauregard boards a boat for Europe and a quiet retirement, while the Wild Bunch turn their attentions from Beauregard to Nobody.

REVIEW:

Netflix, oh Netflix! Why is it you must interfere with my viewing schedule? I actually had planned to watch something else this morning, but I saw that come Monday morning, My Name is Nobody would no longer be streaming. So, this made me adjust my plan. That being said, I wonder if this may actually be better than what I had planned, because I was enjoying this film.

What is this about?

Spaghetti Western regular Terence Hill stars as Nobody, a man who’s been chosen to take out established bandit Jack Beauregard but who strikes up a friendship with the seasoned outlaw instead.

What did I like?

Old meet new. As I get older, I find myself more and more saying, “back in my day”, “when I was young”, etc., when comparing and contrasting things that were around in my day compared to things this generation has. I guess this is just the start of me being an old man with a cane fussing at “those young whipper snappers.” HA! Seriously, though, the two main characters in this film are intriguing because they represent the two styles of westerns at the time. On the one hand, there was Henry Fonda (this was his last western, btw), who was gruff, serious, and pretty much a definitive white hat wearing good guy. On the other hand, there is Terence Hill, fun-loving, free spirit, annoying, morally ambiguous from what we can ascertain, but not really a bad guy. Now, at this point in time, westerns were shifting from the more serious, action-packed masterpieces that they were to the more comedy driven, light-hearted fair. The characterization of these two guys is a reflection of that shift.

1 vs 150. Henry Fonda, as I just mentioned, plays and aging gunman who is apparently the fastest in the west. Terence Hill’s character grew up idolizing him and seems to be hell-bent on making sure he goes down in history books as a hero. What better way to do this than to have him singlehandedly face the 150 men in the Wild Bunch. For those western officiandos out there, yes, these are the same desperadoes from the movie The Wild Bunch. What is so special about this shootout? Part of it is the camera shots. Obviously, it would be the stuff of legend and near impossibility for 1 man to defeat 150 guys on horses charging at you with guns. There are only so many bullets and tommy guns haven’t been invented, yet. However, there is a fatal flaw the group has, which I won’t spoil, but it allows him to taken them down. As group of the group fall, we enter some kind of slow-mo that makes it seem much more epic. Back then it was used sparingly and not in every single action scene, like today.

Funny spaghetti. This is supposed to be a spaghetti western, and it is, but the humorous parts are more prevalent, which is fine with me. It should be noted that this film has two directors. The gritty, serious parts were directed by spaghetti western master, Sergio Leone, while the rest of the film was under the helm of some other guy. The contrast of the two styles would normally leave a big mess, like mixing spaghetti and chocolate syrup. However, somehow they make it work, and the result is the fine film that I just finished.

What didn’t I like?

Follow you down. I was keeping up with the film’s plot and story until a little past the halfway mark when things shift from a pool hall to a fun house, then randomly we are shown a couple of thugs and Hill’s character in a funhouse, etc. This random jumping around continued until Fonda walks out to where we encounter the penultimate, aforementioned shootout. I have no real issue with skipping around, if it serves the film justice, as opposed to just being random, and that is what this was…randomness.

Comparisons. For many critics, they are quick to compare this to other works by Sergio Leone, most notably The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, but for what reason? The unnamed gunman? Technically he has a name…Nobody. The same director? Take a look at any director’s resume, no matter how many masterpieces they have, there is sure to be those 1 or 2 stinkers they would much rather forget, so you can’t compare their works like that. Each film is different. (No, I am not saying The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a stinker). Let this flick stand on its own two feet, people, please!

Music. Ennio Morricone brought a wonderful score to this picture. Perhaps not his best, but still quality work, in my opinion. However, and I realize this was probably to capture the comedic tone the film was striving for, using Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyrie” with a twangy sound underneath just didn’t work. The piece itself is intimidating ,but in this format/version it came off as more of a joke that you would see in a Bugs Bunny gag.

My final thoughts on My Name is Nobody are that is truly and enjoyable film that capitalizes on the changing tone of westerns at the time by acting as a “changing of the guard”, if you will. The comedy, action, twists, turns, and all around fun make this a worthwhile watch. While this is not a film for everyone, I’m sure most will enjoy it, even if you are a hater of classics and westerns and refuse to give them a chance. For everyone else that at least has half an open mind, give this a shot sometime. Perhaps you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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