Spaghetti Western
the european film review > spaghetti westerns
Aka The Sons of Ringo (US)
Leo Cevenini and Vittorio Martino for Flora Film, Variety Film
Director: J. Seemonell [Giorgio Simonelli]
Story & screenplay: Marcello Ciorciolini, Roberto Gianviti, Amedeo Sollazzo, Dino Verde
Cinematography: Tino Santoni {Techniscope - Technicolor}
Music: Piero Umiliani (Nazionalmusic)
Editor: Giuliana Atteni
Set design: Enzo Bulgarelli
Cameraman: Gianni Bergamini
Filmed: Cinecitta (Rome)
Original running time: 105 mins
Release information: Registered 01.12.66. Italy (07.12.66)
Cast: Franco Franchi (Franco, aka Django), Ciccio Ingrassia (Ciccio, aka Gringo), George Hilton (Joe, a bounty hunter), Gloria Paul (Dorothy, a showgirl), Orchidea De Sanctis [Santis] (Marisol, a showgirl), Pedro Sanchez [Ignazio Spalla] (Indio), Ivano Staccioli (Burt), Umberto D'Orsi (Simpson, the Mayor), Ivan G. Scrat [Scratuglia] c.s.c (Jack, Burt's man), Guido Lollobrigida (Fred, the saloon owner), Galliano Sbarra, Enzo Andronico, Armando Carini, and with Fulvia Franco (Margharet, Fred's wife), Mimmo Palmaro (the sheriff)
Uncredited: Fortunato Arena (Indio's man)

Franco Franchi screengrab
Franco does his cowboy thang - are you scared..?I DUE FIGLI DI RINGO

This was George Hilton's second appearance - following I due mafioso contro Goldginger (65) - alongside the popular comic duo, Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia. In the former film, they had turned their parodic eye to the prevalent espionage films of the time, and most particularly the omnipresent Bond series, but I due figli di Ringo takes aim firmly at the another genre: the Spaghetti western. It's all much more of the same - a trivial concoction of slapstick routines, humorous misadventures and excessive face pulling - but comes off as being slightly less successful than the previous outing. If you don't expect too much, though, it's certainly not quite as bad as is often made out.

The hopeless twosome play a pair of con-men who have managed to dupe virtually every town in the West: Franco pretends to be a ruthless bandito, Ciccio pretends to kill him, and they both pocket the money happily proffered by the grateful townspeople. Until, that is, they arrive in Asta Nueva, where their scam is interrupted by the arrival of a proper bounty killer, Joe (George Hilton).

Rather than shoot them, however, Joe has another plan: that they should imitate the two long lost sons of a respected - and wealthy - lawman called Ringo, thereby being able to claim that they are the only rightful heirs to his substantial fortune. Despite this ruse being successful, matters are made more difficult by the fruitless endeavors of some local outlaws, who want to exact their revenge upon the men they suppose to be the sons of their (former) mortal enemy.

Ciccio Ingrassia screengrab
Is it lee Van Cleef? Ciccio Ingrassia in I DUE FIGLI DI RINGO

After all of this has been dealt with, they finally find out the details of 'their' inheritance; it isn't quite what they expected. The 'fortune' is in the person of Indio (Pedro Sanchez), a ruthless bandit - the only one who Ringo was never able to catch - with a price of $100,000 on his head. And Indio has absolutely no intention of allowing anybody to claim it, not least a pair of blithering halfwits.

By this time their comic partnership had experienced over five years of success at the box office, and the formula was already well set: Ciccio playing the slightly more sentient foil to Franco (who often appears to be closer to a bonobo than a human on the evolutionary scale). As with many of their films, it's actually surprisingly well made, with a capable director and crew making sure that everything looks and plays as smoothly as possible. There's even a very well-handled bank robbery that wouldn't have been at all out of place in a more serious movie. For some reason the background story - with its manipulative stranger, duplicitous authority figures, avaricious Mexicans and assorted suspicious and / or disposable characters - reminded me of the later Sartana films. This link is further implied by the crediting of Giuliano Carnimeo , who went on to make most of them, as an ambiguous 'collaborative director', and writer Roberto Gianviti , later to act as co-scripter for Have a Good Funeral, My Friend. Sartana Will Pay (Buon funerale, amigos!... paga Sartana, 70).

As you'd expect, Franco and Ciccio both have plenty of fun with Spaghetti Western conventions, from glasses of beer being slid down the bar to a game of 'anatomical poker' (in which the players have to stake parts of their own body). The film that appears to have particularly inspired them is For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più, 65), as is reflected by the mildly amusing opening sequence; a virtual recreation of the famous 'dual' scene in which Clint Eastwood (Franco) and Lee Van Cleef (Ciccio) try to out-macho each other. Interestingly, though, the whole 'falsely claiming bounty' scenario was central to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, 66), which was registered 22 days after this.

George Hilton screengrab
George Hilton in I DUE FIGLI DI RINGO

Hilton has a much bigger role than in Goldginger, and turns in an effective Eastwood impersonation. He displays a decent sense of comic timing, and it's not hard to see why this acted as a calling card to directors planning bigger and better things (most especially Enzo Castellari and Any Gun Can Play (Vado... l'ammazzo e torno, 67), in which he plays a virtually identical character). Other reliable veterans in the cast include Pedro Sanchez (taking on the Gian Maria Volante ' Indio ' role), and Mimmo Palmara (good fun as a Sheriff driven to distraction by the dimwitted duo). Gloria Paul, an English actress who was popped up in the essential Three Fantastic Supermen (I Fantastici tre supermen, 67), provides sex appeal, and gets to wear a number of fetchingly kitsch costumes.

Bizarrely, the guy who dubs Franco in the English version occasionally sounds like a dead ringer for Micheal Crawford doing his Frank Spencer / Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em shtick. Whatever, this certainly wasn't the only time that Sr.'s Franchi and Ingrassia ventured into the fictional west. Similar titles include Due Mafiosi nel Far West (64) and Due Rrringos nel Texas (67).

Matt B