The ‘Wild West’ needs its heroes but they can come in some of the strangest guises. Especially in Spaghetti Westerns, where genre tropes and cliches are treated with disdain and often inverted. This irreverent approach has created some of the most iconic films and characters within the wider genre. While the figure of Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad and The Ugly will be familiar to millions, he wasn’t the only gunslinger in town. Cool as a cucumber, the taciturn Sabata appeared in three films. They’re brought together here in The Sabata Trilogy.
Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) arrives in the town of Daugherty, a man of few words but with seemingly a lot of information. Indeed, important men think he knows too much and looks for ways to ‘remove’ him. After he returns a safe which is stolen by a group of thieves disguised as soldiers, they take action. Our taciturn hero teams up with a trio of friendly locals and must work with the untrustworthy Banjo (William Berger), who claims to know him. The first film in Gianfranco Parolini’s trilogy works so well due to a twisting plot and a cast of likeable characters. All wrapped up within a mystery.
Our hero returns, but this time looking very much like Yul Brynner. The former Confederate officer finds himself in the middle of a conflict between Mexicans and Austrians. He is hired to steal a wagonload of bullion. With the help of Ballantine (Dean Reed) and Escudo (Ignazio Spalla) he discovers that not everything that glitters in gold. Adiós, Sabata plays with the same themes and ideas as the original to create a satisfying sequel. One full of double-crossing and inventive action sequences.
Return of Sabata
He’s back! An older looking Lee Van Cleef reprises the role again, with a lot of familiar faces around him. This time Sabata is working undercover at a side-show. When the circus owner runs off with the funds, he sticks around as a former army colleague (Reiner Schöne) owes him money. He uncovers a plot by a rich landowner (Giampiero Albertini) to elope with the townsfolk’s money. The finale of Parolini’s trilogy ends on a high with the best fighting sequence in the films.
There’s no doubt that Sabata is one of the great Spaghetti Westerns characters. While Brynner does a decent impersonation, he doesn’t quite have the charisma of Van Cleef. All three films play out in similar ways, but they’re done so well it doesn’t really matter. The same faces keep appearing (Spalla, Gianni Rizzo, Aldo Canti, Franco Fantasia etc), which is good to see, but the fight sequences are the highlight. There is great use of acrobatics, clever set design and inventive use of weaponry. Above all, Sabata is immense fun.
- O-Card Slipcase
- Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork for each film
- 1080p presentations on Blu-ray from High-Definition transfers
- English audio option
- Optional English SDH Subtitles
- Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by author / critic Kim Newman
- Adiós, Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by filmmaker and historian Mike Siegel
- Return of Sabata – Brand new feature length audio commentary by authors C. Courtney Joyner & Henry Parke
- New video pieces on each film by Austin Fisher, author of Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema
- Stills Galleries
- A Limited Edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Western expert Howard Hughes
The Sabata Trilogy is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Classics on 18 October.