Appellate Judge James A. Stewart once saved someone from a rattlesnake with copy editing.
"You a doctor?"
Still, the gambling man is known as Doc West. As Doc West begins, he's dropping off some of his winnings at the Santa Fe post office, which is promptly robbed. Doc West (Terence Hill, My Name is Nobody) gives chase, but stops to save a boy from a rattlesnake and fix the boy's dislocated shoulder. When he gets to Holy Sand, the next town, Doc gets into a card game and a dispute, which sends him to jail. While there, he learns a little about the sheriff (Paul Sorvino, Law and Order) and a lot about a string of bank robberies. By the time the movie's over, Doc has a gun showdown and has to return to surgery to save a life.
Terence Hill gives Doc West a spaghetti Western feel, and the movie was directed by Giulio Base (who co-wrote it with Hill and has directed the actor in episodes of Don Matteo, an Italian detective series) for an Italian company. However, the movie actually was shot in New Mexico. The beautiful scenery gets put to good use in several scenes, but the movie stays in town and on interior sets a bit more than I would have liked. It also tends to be talky in places—and I could have sworn I saw lips moving out of synch.
The hero with a tragic past may be as common in the West as canned beans, but Terence Hill makes Doc West an appealing hero, playing the character with that hint of smile that lets you know the movie isn't to be taken too seriously. He's good with comedy, as when Doc orders iced tea in a saloon and gets a less-than-friendly reaction. He also gives the character warmth, whether he's talking about apple pie to distract a boy so he can fix a dislocated shoulder or making fast friends with the sheriff over a game of cards.
Doc West is a tame Western, the sort where the hero shoots to wound, not to kill, and the bloodshed takes place offscreen. At the same time, it has a storyline of redemption that isn't just kid stuff.
The only extra is a trailer which makes the movie look like something more two-fisted.
Doc West would be a good choice for a family movie night. Fans of Terence Hill will also want to watch it to see how he's fared over the years. It's not necessarily as thrilling as the DVD case might suggest, but it's a pleasant way to kill some time.
Not guilty. Perhaps you could call it a spaghetti rings Western.
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