Terence Hill

Nobody’s the Greatest (1975, Damiano Damiani)

According to Wikipedia, Sergio Leone was so unhappy with Nobody’s the Greatest, he had his name taken off. He directed the first scene, which is a standard Leone Western opener and is quite good, he co-produced and he came up with the story. The movie’s a tedious, at times painful attempt at comedy–Terence Hill smiles a lot and is quite affable, but the script’s just terrible. The plotting is bad, the resolution makes no sense… I’m not sure if the dialogue is bad in just the English language version or in every language too, but it’s awful.

The biggest problem, besides a genuine lack of scope–director Damiani manages to make Monument Valley look like rear screen projection–is the dubbing on the English version. The goofy voices Leone usually reserved for one or two comic roles in his films are now the leads. So it might be difficult to say Robert Charlebois and Patrick McGoohan are both terrible, given a great deal of the terribleness comes from their voices, but it’s probably a safe bet they are in any language.

The majority of the film, though boring, is never awful. Ennio Morricone’s score is silly and playful, qualities one doesn’t usually associate with him. And there is a nice bit, at the beginning, with Klaus Kinski. The conclusion to that sequence, actually, is where the film starts to tumble. It falls apart more rapidly at the end, when the red herrings and double-crosses dissolve and the viewer is left without any resolution to the story. The ending makes little sense, but, by that time, it’s such a relief to have the movie end, it doesn’t matter.



Directed by Damiano Damiani; screenplay by Damiani, Ernesto Gastaldi and Fulvio Morsella, based on a story by Gastaldi and Morsella; director of photography, Giuseppe Ruzzolini; edited by Nino Baragli; music by Ennio Morricone; production designers, Francesco Bronzi and Carlo Simi; produced by Claudio Mancini, Rafran C. Rialto and Morsella; released by Tobis Filmkunst.

Starring Terence Hill (Joe Thanks), Miou-Miou (Lucy), Robert Charlebois (Bill Locomotiva), Patrick McGoohan (Major Cabot), Raimund Harmstorf (Sergeant Milton), Piero Vida (Jacky Roll), Rik Battaglia (Captain), Mario Valgoi (Thomas Trader), Mario Brega (Coach driver), Friedrich von Ledebur (Don Felipe, the priest), Jean Martin (Colonel Pembroke) and Klaus Kinski (Doc Foster).

My Name is Nobody (1973, Tonino Valerii)

What a peculiar Western. Sergio Leone produced it and directed some of it, so there are a few familiar trappings, particularly Ennio Morricone’s score. Oddly, it’s probably his worst. But the film also stars Henry Fonda and it’s a sort of a follow-up to Once Upon a Time in the Western, except Nobody manages to be incredibly preachy. It’s about the changing West and goes so far as to hammer that point in quite a few times.

But that hammering isn’t what makes it odd… While Fonda is the main character, the lead is really Nobody, played by Terence Hill–who’s got blonder hair and bluer eyes than Clint Eastwood ever did. Hill is affable (I was going to say likable, but affable is better) and it’s obvious he’s having a good time and Nobody is a comedy to some degree, but there’s so much wrong with it. In some ways, it’s a nice close to Fonda’s Western career–particular My Darling Clementine–since he’s playing a lawman again. But that’s not enough to carry it and the plotting is plodding. It’s a Leone Western without gunfights. There’s one sequence in which the editing ranges from beautiful to unspeakably bad (if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about)….

The film’s not bad, however, and at times, it’s a lot of fun to watch, it just pisses you off. There are goofy little scenes meant to be goofy and long, intricate red herrings. There’s no payoff to Nobody. Once it establishes itself, it becomes predictable–then there are the murmurs that it might not be quite so predictable, but then it veers right back on the original course.

Leone just made too many Westerns. He really should have quit after Once Upon a Time in the West.



Directed by Tonino Valerii; screenplay by Ernesto Gastaldi, based on a story by Gastaldi and Fulvio Morsella, from an idea by Sergio Leone; director of photography, Giuseppe Ruzzolini; edited by Nino Baragli; music by Ennio Morricone; production designer, Gianni Polidori; produced by Morsella; released by Titanus Distribuzione.

Starring Terence Hill (Nobody), Henry Fonda (Jack Beauregard), Jean Martin (Sullivan), R.G. Armstrong (Honest John), Karl Braun (Jim), Leo Gordon (Red), Steve Kanaly (False barber), Geoffrey Lewis (Leader of the Wild Bunch), Neil Summers (Squirrel), Piero Lulli (Sheriff), Mario Brega (Pedro), Marc Mazza (Don John) and Benito Stefanelli (Porteley).

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