It Can Be Done… Amigo!
1972 / Colour / 103 m. / Italy / France / Spain / Si puo fare… amigo
Starring: Bud Spencer, Jack Palance, Renato Cestie, Francisco Rabal, Dany Saval, Luciano Catenacci, Roberto Camardiel, Franco Giacobini, Serena Michelotti, Manuel Guitian
Cinematography: Aldo Tonti
Art Directors: Giacomo Calo Carducci and Mario Giorsi
Film Editor: Renzo Lucidi
Original Music: Luis Enriquez Bacalov
Written by: Ernesto Gastaldi and Rafael Azcona
Produced by: Alfonso Sansone and Enrico Chroscicki
Directed by: Maurizio Lucidi
Reviewed by Lee Broughton
A strongman drifter, Coburn (Bud Spencer), promises a dying man that he will escort his small nephew, Chip (Renato Cestie), to their new farm at Westland. Unfortunately, Coburn is being tailed by the sharp-shooting manager of a troupe of itinerant dance hall girls, Sonny (Jack Palance), who has vengeance on his mind. Coburn inadvertently deflowered Sonny’s sister, Mary (Dany Saval), and Sonny wants Coburn to make an honest woman of her before he kills him. Complications arise when it becomes clear that Westland’s corrupt Preacher-cum-Sheriff-cum-Judge, Franciscus (Francisco Rabal), wants Chip’s land and Sonny’s plans go awry when he discovers that Mary is pregnant.
By 1972 Bud Spencer had perfected a screen persona that essentially followed him from film to film and genre to genre. Usually aimless and cantankerous wanderers, Spencer’s characters tend to be good-hearted if reluctant heroes who possess an avaricious streak. They’re looking for the big break that will guarantee their early retirement though things rarely turn out the way that they would like them to: the money goes just as quickly as it arrives for these guys, usually because their partners (invariably played by Terence Hill) tend to be selflessly heroic and reckless types. As such, it’s worth pointing out that Coburn in It Can Be Done… Amigo! actually represents a slightly softer, gentler and more easy-going variant of Spencer’s usual screen persona.
Terence Hill doesn’t appear in It Can Be Done… Amigo! but the kind of antagonistic relationship that Hill usually shares with Spencer is reproduced here in part by the presence of young Renato Cestie. Cestie’s Chip is wise beyond his years and so he is able to convincingly hold his own in arguments with Coburn and the boy’s acts of defiance and his contrary outlook manage to convincingly prompt the kind of exasperated responses from Spencer that Hill’s characters normally provoke. Similarly, Chip can be likened to Hill’s characters in the way that he artfully manipulates the events unfolding around him to some extent. Within the skewed internal logic of the film this works fine, thanks in no small part to the fact that Chip’s activities are never telegraphed in an overly cute or overly sentimental way.
This show also features a really interesting performance from Jack Palance. While he has a noticeably wicked glint in his eyes at all times and gets quite physically rough when he’s pushing people around, this remains an uncharacteristically subdued but none-the-less enjoyable turn from Palance. Sonny is a pretty mean dude and his unforgiving nature and black clothing bring to mind Palance’s Jack Wilson character from George Stevens’ Shane (USA, 1953). Sonny is all for shooting Coburn dead just as soon as he’s married Mary but his attitude softens just a little when he finds out that she’s pregnant: he decides to wait until the baby is twenty-one years of age before executing his vendetta.
In truth, there’s actually very little in the way of realistic violence or bloodshed to be found in It Can Be Done… Amigo!. In fact the show comes on like a Spaghetti Western precursor to television’s The A-Team (USA, 1983-87): there’s lots of action, bluster and rough-housing going on here but it rarely has serious consequences. Spencer gets involved in a number of his trademark one-against-many brawls and Coburn is distinguished by the fact that he puts his spectacles on when he’s about to start fighting. It’s quite amusing to see Spencer and Palance tussling with each other on a couple of occasions: one such confrontation leaves Sonny with a nasty crick in his neck.
Other highlights for Spencer fans include a dispute over an out-sized plate full of turkey, a brawl with bandits that ensues when they try to rob a bank just as Coburn is depositing $50 for Chip, Coburn’s ham-fisted attempts to get close to an amorous widow and Coburn’s look of avaricious delight when Franciscus offers Chip $1000 for his farm and his subsequent look of disappointment when the lad turns the offer down flat. Interestingly, the farm in question is the same property that was built for use as the McBain ranch in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (Italy/USA, 1968).
As far as comedy Spaghetti Westerns and Bud Spencer flicks go, It Can Be Done… Amigo! is a smart-looking, enjoyable and largely inoffensive dalliance. Veteran cinematographer Aldo Tonti provides some stylish shots of some of Almeria’s more familiar locations and his inch perfect framing and fluid camera movements result in a classy looking film. The show’s noteworthy art direction and costume designs bring with them an aesthetic look that is pleasingly “revisionist” in nature.
Lots of familiar faces, including guest star Roberto Camardiel and genre bit part players like Riccardo Pizzuti, Luciano Catenacci, Salvatore Borghese and Paolo Figlia, are on hand to remind us that we’re watching a Spaghetti Western. And genre stalwart Luis Enriquez Bacalov provides the show with a pleasant enough soundtrack score.
I have a real fondness for the genre work of both Bud Spencer and Jack Palance and I reckon that fans of both actors – and the Spaghetti Western genre itself – are pretty well served here. Spaghetti Western comedies from the early 1970s can be real hit or miss affairs. And there tends to be more misses than hits unfortunately. The good news is that It Can Be Done… Amigo! is a thoughtfully plotted, high quality production that features some genuinely amusing moments. As such, the film stands out as one of the best comedy Spaghetti Westerns of the 1970s.
Psychotronic Cinemas rating: Very Good +
© Copyright 2011, 2017 Lee Broughton.