A Bullet for the General (1966)
Director: Damiano Damiani
Where to get it: Blue Underground
At the height of the Mexican revolution, a mysterious young American (Lou Castel of FIST IN HIS POCKET) joins a gang of marauders led by El Chucho (Gian Maria Volonte of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) on a series of savage raids to steal guns for a powerful rebel general. But when the Gringo brings his own cold-blooded ideals to the bandits, El Chucho discovers that the real weapons of war belong to no army. In a land ravaged by poverty and violence, can true freedom be bought with a single bullet?
In the classic world of Westerns, A Bullet for the General is definitely among the “cool” films in the genre. It not necessarily a bloody film or anything, but it does pack action, a good story, and some very cool characters. These are characters that are very grey shaded. They aren’t at all what you’d call good guys, but then again nobody in this movie really is. They do have some redeeming qualities and they make for an overall enjoyable experience watching this film on the screen in it’s newly remastered format. Gian Maria Volonté, who get’s a full length documentary about him on the second disc, really does steal the show in his performance as El Chuncho. It’s a very multilayer character, and he does a great job bringing that character alive on screen.
As I said, it’s a very nice and drawn out plot. It’s a complex and smart plot, one that is rare in films of this nature. But it starts off in very interesting fashion with a train being robbed and it keeps rolling from there down one path to another, with the bigger picture being shown but the full hand never being played until the right time. It also packs one of the strangest, yet probably most symbolic endings you’ll find in a Western. For people who may have the basic DVD of this (and the pics are from the standard), that may not know if it’s worth an upgrade, I’d day it is. The picture is great (This release used the negatives), not perfect, but way better than the standard release. And I think the sound is good as well. Also, you get both the original cut and the US cut. That’s just a few minutes difference, but it’s still very cool.