Spaghetti Westerns, Part 3

A Bullet For The General (Quien Sabe?) (1966)

Spaghetti westerns such as Companeros, set in and around Mexico and dealing with overtly political themes, are generally referred to as Zapata westerns. The term is derived from the name of a leading figure in the Mexian Revolution of 1910, Emiliano Zapata.

Damiano Damiani’s A Bullet For The General is one of the best known Zapata westerns, and offers more challenging policital themes than most others. Like Companeros, the film features an unlikely partnership between a Mexican bandit and a dapper gringo. The former, El Chuncho, is played by Gian Maria Volonte, probably best known for his role as El Indio in For A Few Dollars More; whereas the latter, Bill Tate, is played by Lou Castel, who was pretty much an unknown at the time (and arguably still is for most of us). There’s also a mesmerising performance from the wild-eyed and brilliant Klaus Kinski, who went on to appear in many more spaghetti westerns.

I have read various reviews of the film which assert it is a commentary on the Vietnam War or illegal CIA activities in South America. Whatever Damiani’s true intentions, A Bullet For The General is a powerful film and I am sure it can still resonate with modern viewers.

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