Acquasanta Joe (1971)
|Category||Spaghetti Western||Reversible Cover|
|Year Of Production||1971|
|Running Time||88:04 (Case: 94)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Mario Gariazzo|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Clint Eastwood was not the only American TV cowboy to make his way to Europe and appear in a spaghetti western, although he was the most successful. For Acquasanta Joe it is Ty Hardin, who made his name in the TV series Bronco (1958-62) although by 1971 he could not be called a rising young star!
Acquasanta Joe (Lincoln Tate) or “Holy Water” Joe (or as the title card in the credits has it Weihwasser Joe) is a deadly and successful bounty hunter who relies on tips from The Sicilian (Tuccio Musumeci) to find his prey. Joe has deposited his earnings in a local bank, but when the bank is robbed by the gang led by Jeff Donovan (Ty Hardin), who use a captured Union army cannon, Joe is determined to get his money back and destroy the gang. As a way of getting close to Donovan, Joe first tracks down and captures Charlie Bennett (Richard Harrison), a man who deserted the gang taking a large sum of money with him, and takes him to Donovan. In the gang Joe catches the eye of the beautiful female bandit Estella (Silvia Monelli) and exploits the ambitions of the Sergeant (Pietro Ceccarelli) who wants to take over the gang. Can Joe stay alive long enough to deliver the gang to the army, get his money back and win the girl?
The Italian financed spaghetti westerns exploded onto the screen from the early 1960s. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) was not the first but it put star Clint Eastwood, director Sergio Leone and composer Ennio Morricone onto the world stage. Spaghetti westerns featured extreme violence, morally ambiguous heroes and iconic scores; indeed it could be argued that the Morricone type score had the largest influence! However, by the late 1960s with films such as They Call Me Trinity (1970), the violence gave way to buffoonery and low comedy. This may help to explain the variations in tone within Acquasanta Joe as it features elements of the old style spaghetti westerns such as the usual violence, a bounty hunter and an uneasy partnership, not to mention the ticking, musical pocket watch (an important element of spaghetti westerns since For a Few Dollars More (1965)), but added elements of low comedy.
Acquasanta Joe was co-written and directed by Mario Gariazzo, who did not have an extensive CV, something which cannot be said of cinematographer Franco Villa, who had 80 credits listed on the IMDb, and composer Marcello Giombini, with 91 credits including the Lee Van Cleef starring Sabata films. His score for Acquasanta Joe is recognisably spaghetti western, with brass and guitar, jaunty in places but rather silly, obvious and intrusive, especially in the “comedy” sections. But I guess anyone would struggle trying to emulate the master Morricone.
Acquasanta Joe is not the best example of the genre, but neither is it the worst. The interaction between the leads Lincoln Tate and the cigar chomping Ty Hardin is good to watch, the crosses, double crosses and triple crosses are fun and the action, including the extended fight around an Indian burial ground, decently staged. The ending steals somewhat from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), but then again you may as well steal from the best!!
Acquasanta Joe is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.
The IMDb gives the film’s original aspect ratio as 2.35:1. As all the available DVDs of the film are 1.85:1 I wondered if the ratio given by the IMDb was accurate, but clearly it is; the figures of men on horses in the credit sequence of Acquasanta Joe are elongated and in a number of scenes actors are partly out of the frame or disappear altogether. I guess we have what we have.
The print actually looks pretty good for a low budget spaghetti western that is over 40 years old. Detail in exterior wideshots is fairly soft but interiors and close ups of faces and eyes (it would not be a spaghetti western without them) are strong showing all the grey whiskers on Ty Hardin’s face. Colours are nice and natural, if not exactly vibrant, blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones good and brightness and contrast consistent.
There were a number of minor speckles, some motion blur with movement and aliasing, the most noticeable being on the Sicilian’s checked coat. But there was nothing too distracting.
No subtitles are provided.
The only audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 224 Kbps.
The film was originally shown with a mono sound. Dialogue is clear and the effects, such as shots, canon fire, horses’ hooves and explosions are sharp and loud. As noted, the original score by Marcello Giombini was sometimes intrusive, but this is a spaghetti western after all.
This was a multinational cast, speaking various languages on set, and all the dialogue was looped so lip synchronisation is as varied as is usual for spaghetti westerns. There was some slight crackle in a couple of places.
|Surround Channel Use|
There is a reversible cover but no extras. The static menu offers only Play Movie / Scene Selection.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Amazon lists a few Region 2 or Region Free European versions of Acquasanta Joe, including a Spanish release where the film is called Los Violentos de Texas. However most of the sellers do not deliver to Australia, some of the DVDs are very expensive indeed and all, as far as I can tell, are in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Our release is cheap at least!
Fans of spaghetti westerns will appreciate what they get with Acquasanta Joe; a bounty hunter, crosses and double crosses, shoot-outs, bank robberies, a beautiful girl, a stolen Civil War cannon and a loud and intrusive score. It may not the best example of the genre but it is good fun and certainly not the worst either. The aspect ratio is incorrect, but all the other releases I can find are the same, and some are very expensive indeed. The film looks pretty good and, for fans of spaghetti westerns, it can be got here very cheaply.
Note re: Rating. The DVD cover and the DVD itself indicate the film is classified “PG”. When the DVD loads, however, a screen shows the film as rated “M”. The Australian Government Classification site confirms that the correct rating is indeed “PG”.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|