Goodbye, Texas! Hello, Spaghetti Western!
One of the hundreds of spaghetti western films made in Spain and Italy during the 1960s and 1970s, Texas, Adios fulfills genre requirements with a square-jawed, steely-eyed hero, large helpings of violence and death, and a revenge tale written in broad strokes.
Facts of the Case
Burt Sullivan (Franco Nero) is an intimidating Texas lawman who for over thirty years has lived with the memory of watching his father murdered by Cisco Delgado (José Suárez). One day Burt decides that he has lived with the memory long enough, and sets off into Mexico to find Delgado and bring him to justice. Reluctantly bringing along his younger brother Jim (Alberto Dell'Acqua), the brothers soon discover that this will be no simple task.
The Mexican province that Delgado calls home knows only the law of Delgado's whims. Murdering, pillaging, and squeezing every peso out of the people, Delgado seems secure against the vengeance of a lone lawman and his brother. But all is not as it seems, for a Sullivan family secret divides the brothers and reveals Delgado's hidden vulnerability, just as the oppressed populace begins to show signs of revolt. With all the players in place, the secrets revealed, and the backdrop set, only the man with the fastest gun and the coolest nerve will survive the maelstrom of carnage to follow.
"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade," or so the aphorism goes. This led to the genesis of the genre affectionately known as the Spaghetti Western. When the Hollywood studios practically abandoned the western genre, European audiences still thirsted for more. Since filmmaking is as much about art as business, there was no shortage of people who rushed to meet the demand. Famed director Sergio Leone, composer Ennio Morricone, and actor Clint Eastwood certainly took the lead, but they were by no means the only significant contributors to this new sub-genre.
Italian director Ferdinando Baldi was one of those many Spaghetti Western filmmakers, but even in the sub-genre he might have toiled in relative obscurity without Texas, Adios on his resume, thanks to his choice of a leading man. Franco Nero (Django, Force 10 from Navarone, Die Hard 2) was blessed with well-cut facial features, wavy black hair and striking blue eyes, giving him a strong, attractive look tailor made for western films. While judging his acting may be difficult without speaking Italian, any viewer will quickly appreciate how his style and screen presence earned Nero his place in Spaghetti Western history. By luck or by choice, his serendipitous appearances in such sub-genre classics as Django (which spawned its own army of "sequels") and Keoma further enhanced his visibility, though not usually to American audiences.
Though not well acquainted with Spaghetti Western films, experience with Clint Eastwood's participation in this niche (beginning with Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars) taught me what to expect. These are not films with extensive character development, intricate plots, or lavish production values. When you watch a Spaghetti Western, you want casual violence, sharp, memorable dialogue, stirring music, and impressive visual style. These are the cheese-laden nachos of cinema, cheap and tasty, but by no means should you try to live on them! Judged against that background, Texas, Adios is a fair representation of its genre.
The anamorphic widescreen video suffers from many expected defects for a niche film of over thirty years ago. Graininess and modest flickering are present, blips, bits of dirt, and similar defects come in a steady stream, and colors are not very saturated. On the up side, sharpness is decent and digital enhancement artifacts are kept in check.
In either English or Italian flavors, the mono track shows its low budget origins and age all too well, with limited dynamic range and clarity. On the other hand, all you really need the sound to do is let you hear the gunplay and the ready quips, so who needs more? The English track is louder and boomier, as well as sporting typically poor dubbing. Some commentators state that this dub was made very recently, which would not surprise me in the least. So, unless you are allergic to subtitles, turn them on and stick with the Italian track.
Anchor Bay has included a few dabs of extra content, including a six minute modern interview with Franco Nero, the theatrical trailer, and a Franco Nero biography. Not exactly impressive, but for such an older niche film, better than nothing at all.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
As a fair representation of its genre, Texas, Adios suffers from the common limitations of the genre as well. The story borders on the incomprehensible. Characters are barely introduced before they take radical departures with only a very thin veneer of exposition, violent confrontations occur for no particular reason, and the actors are limited to barely sketched stock characters. However, aside from Franco Nero and the genial steel of José Suárez, none of the other cast members shows much indication of talent beyond general B-grade ability.
What is not as common among the genre are the pedestrian landscapes of Texas, Adios, nor the less than stirring musical score. These are elements that typically compensate for the limitations of the Spaghetti Western, so when as here they are merely ordinary, the film's enjoyment quotient suffers.
Of interest primarily to the Spaghetti Western aficionado, Texas, Adios is likely to have only limited appeal to the general public, particularly if you are contemplating a purchase ($25 list). Try a rental if you are looking for something off the beaten path, or you want to explore this sub-genre, but don't expect to be blown away.
The Court finds Texas, Adios guilty only of being a little-known Spaghetti Western.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
• Theatrical Trailer
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