The Austrian Emperor Maximilian I is ruling Mexico and Sabata (Yul Brynner) is hired by the guerrilla leader Señor Ocaño to steal a wagonload of gold from the Austrian army. However, when Sabata and his partners Escudo (Ignazio Spalla) and Ballantine (Dean Reed) obtain the wagon, they find it is not full of gold but of sand, and that the gold was taken by Austrian Colonel Skimmel (Gérard Herter). So Sabata plans to steal back the gold…

“Adiós, Sabata” (Italian: Indio Black, sai che ti dico: Sei un gran figlio di…, roughly translated as Indio Black, you know what I’m going to tell you … You’re a big son of a….) is a 1970 Italian-Spanish Spaghetti Western film directed by Gianfranco Parolini. It is the second film in The Sabata Trilogy by Parolini. Yul Brynner took over the lead role from Lee Van Cleef, who starred in the first and third film. The film was originally going to be entitled “Indio Black”, but the title was changed after the first Sabata film proved successful and had inspired many imitators. Van Cleef had been offered the starring role in the film, but had to decline because he was committed to “The Magnificent Seven Ride” in the role of Chris Adams, which Brynner had made famous in “The Magnificent Seven”. In the Italian language version, the character played by Yul Brynner is called Indio Black, but for the international market he was renamed Sabata. It’s also said that Lee van Cleef, the original Sabata, rejected the offer to star in it, according to some because he didn’t like the script, according to Alex Cox because the producers didn’t want to pay the fee Lee was asking. Brynner´s Sabata wears a fringy uniform instead of a black cloak which Lee van Cleef´s Sabata does, but the character is roughly the same, a mysterious gunman spiraling his way through a labyrinthine plot populated with foes who may be friends, and friends who may be foes. Opinions about Brynner’s performance differ. Donald Guarisco of All Movie thinks “he brings a brooding, ominous undercurrent to the role that gives the film an added bit of tension” (3). Apparently he behaved like an enormous pain in the ass on the set. To begin with he refused to say a word to Reed, who was a communist, and had torn the American flag in reaction to the country’s foreign policy (in relation to South America). He also refused to look smaller than Reed, who was in fact several inches taller, so Parolini had to “level” the two actors for every scene they had in common. To make things worse, Brynner suffered from arthritis in his fingers, and had trouble handling that bizarre weapon of his, a lever action rifle with the horizontal magazine carrying seven 30/30 Remington cartridges and one cigar. Gianfranco Parolini´s “Adiós, Sabata” have all the spaghetti western attributes. Like outrageous editing and angles, bizarre weaponry, confusing language, episodic plots where every scene has a punchline, and ridiculous costumes. Yul Brynner is great as Sabata with his stone face, black outfit with leather trim, an open vest, bell bottoms and his strange lever action rifle. The score by Bruno Nicolai is perfect and you can´t help ending up whistling along in the title melody. All in all, despite a bit of a messy plot line and editing, this is a pretty good Spaghetti Western in my eyes. (3 and a half out of 5)

MPW-37042