Euro Western time again. This one is JOHNNY YUMA, a 1966 German/Italian co-production that has nothing to do with the character of the same name that was played by Nick Adams in the TV series THE REBEL.
This Johnny Yuma is played by Mark Damon (HOUSE OF USHER), who was already a spaghetti western veteran by this time. Johnny is on his way to his uncle Thomas Felton's sprawling ranch, where he's expected to take charge of the place. Before Johnny gets there his middle-aged uncle is murdered due to the machinations of the young, beautiful Mrs. Felton (Rosalba Neri) and her conniving brother. Johnny plans to avenge his uncle and take his rightful inheritance, while dealing with a mysterious gunslinger named Carradine (Lawrence Dobkin).
JOHNNY YUMA has plenty of familiar elements, but it also has enough novel twists to make it an above average Euro Western. Mark Damon's Johnny isn't a scruffy loner--when not battling bad guys he's an amiable enough fellow, and he's also definitely a ladies man. A gigantic bar brawl gives Damon a chance to show off his fighting and shooting skills, and it appears the actor does most of his own stunts.
Damon makes a decent hero, but the main highlight here is Rosalba Neri, Lady Frankenstein herself, as Samantha Felton. Neri's Samantha is a sexy, but cold-blooded femme fatale who is willing to do anything--and use anyone--to get what she wants. Samantha's treachery knows no bounds, and I'll even say that Neri makes her one of the most memorable female characters in spaghetti western history.
American character actor Lawrence Dobkin's performance as the taciturn Carradine also deserves some mention. Dobkin brings a strong, silent presence, and the relationship between his Carradine and Johnny Yuma is somewhat reminiscent as that between Colonel Mortimer and The Man With No Name in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. Carradine also is a former flame of Samantha's, giving the story some added depth.
JOHNNY YUMA isn't as over-the-top as most entries in this genre, but in the second half of the film there is a very unexpected, very shocking, and very brutal killing of one of Johnny's companions. I personally didn't think this event was necessary, other than giving Johnny even more of a reason to get revenge (as if he needed any).
Director and co-writer Romolo Guerrieri injects a few inventive camera angles and scene set-ups, and the lively music score was by Nora Orlandi (it was very rare for a woman to score a Euro Western).
My expectations were not very high for JOHNNY YUMA, and I have to say the movie more than exceeded them. It's well-paced and entertaining, and it's worth watching for Rosalba Neri alone. The movie is available on a number of streaming channels, but I found the sharpest-looking print of it on YouTube.