Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Adam West In THE RELENTLESS FOUR
Yesterday after work I was channel surfing, and I stumbled upon a Spaghetti Western I had never heard of....starring no less a performer than Adam West. The movie was being shown on the MGMHD channel, and the title of it was THE RELENTLESS FOUR.
Before I discuss this film, a quick explanation of my fondness for Adam West. When I was a very little kid, one of my first favorite TV shows was "Batman". Of course at that age I didn't get the fact that the show was campy....I totally bought into it, even to the point were I sometimes got worried that Batman might actually get killed.
Because of my early viewing of "Batman", Adam West became one of my first heroes. Whenever he showed up in another movie or TV show I would always try to watch it--and I would wind up disappointed that he didn't act like Batman. As I got older I was able to see a lot more of his TV guest appearances, including a "Bonanza" episode where he was the bad guy and shot someone in the back! (That really freaked me out.) Not too long ago, I saw for the very first time an episode of "The Big Valley" where West played a Union Army officer who had a compulsion to kill women because his mother was a prostitute (if I had seen this when I was a kid I would have been traumatized for life).
So obviously I was interested in viewing THE RELENTLESS FOUR. Adam West plays Sam Garrett, a (Texas?) Ranger who comes into conflict with the four bandits of the film's title. The bandits set Sam up to be accused of murder, and various Western-style conflicts ensue until Sam is able to defeat the four and clear his name.
The reason that Spaghetti Westerns have such a cult following is mainly because of their bizarre attributes, such as strange characters, over-the-top acting, wild stunts, and grotesque violence. Unfortunately THE RELENTLESS FOUR features none of these. It's a very, very standard Western--most of what goes on in it would fit right in any American TV Western of the period. There's no unique take on any of the typical situations. The movie drags along (even at 90 minutes), and while it is competently made, there's no real style or memorable moments.
As for Adam West, he does a good job as the scruffy hero. He handles the requisite gunplay and fistfights very well (and before you even ask, comic book action words DO NOT appear on the screen when he punches somebody). The problem with accurately judging his performance is....Adam West was dubbed in this film! Watching Adam West speak with someone else's voice is a unique experience. One of West's major strengths is his distinctive voice, and his even more distinctive speech pattern. Taking that away from him detracts from his role.
Why was West dubbed? Well, THE RELENTLESS FOUR was made in 1965....before the "Batman" series had come out and made West a star. At the time this movie was made, West was like a lot of other young American actors who had gone to Europe to try and follow up Clint Eastwood's success with director Sergio Leone's Westerns. I assume the producers wanted a voice that sounded "tougher". The voice used in the film does sound familiar to me.....I'm pretty sure that voice was used in Leone's DOLLARS trilogy. I asked a Facebook friend of mine who happens to be a Spaghetti Western expert if he knew who did the dubbing, and even he was not able to say.
I searched all over the internet not just for dubbing information, but any information on THE RELENTLESS FOUR. I didn't get much. I do know that it was filmed in Almeria, Spain, and the town set is the same one used in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (I could tell that just by looking at it). And that's about it. If Adam West had not starred in this film, I doubt there would be any knowledge of it at all (I know I wouldn't have watched it). THE RELENTLESS FOUR isn't a terrible film--but it is probably the most normal Spaghetti Western that I have ever seen. In this case, that is not a compliment.