Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Double Feature: Two Tales of Trinity

They Call Me Trinity (aka "My Name is Trinity") (1971)
Starring: Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Farley Granger, Steffen Zacharias, Dan Sturkie, Remo Capitani, and Riccardo Pizzuti
Director: Enzo Barboni
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Trinity (Hill), a shiftless drifter so lazy he has his horse tow him on stretcher instead of riding, arrives in a town where his his horse-thieving half-brother Bambino (Spencer) is pasing himself off as the new sheriff while looking for the best way to rustle horses belonging to the evil Major Harriman (Granger). Trinity has a habit of spoiling Bambino's plans and otherwise complicating his life, and soon the two find themselves protecting a group of pacifist Mormon settlers from both the Major and Mezcal (Capitani) and his banditos.

When I was a kid, my friends and I loved to rent Bud Spencer and Terence Hill videos. Whenever we spotted one of their movies we hadn't seen, it became our next rental. We also rushed to see them in the movie theater when they'd run them during the summer, or when new movies with either or both of them would be released. They never dissapointed, and the Trinity films were our favorites.

It was for this reason that I was a bit hesitant to watch "They Call Me Trinity" when I noticed that it was included in "Mean Guns", a 20-movie collection of westerns that the folks at Mill Creek Entertainment were kind enough to send me. I feared the film would not hold up to my very fond memories of it.

I am glad to say that, 25+ years later, this first Trinity movie is every bit as hilarious as it was when I was a kid. The comedy in this spaghetti western spoof--made by filmmakers who understood spaghetti westerns the best: Italians--is a fabulous bit of filmmaking from beginning to end.

With humor and satire that ranges from subtle to the basest of slapstick, good acting, excellent set and costuming, and the over-the-top fights and gunplay that we loved so much (not to mention Bambino's imperviousness and his trademark "fist-to-the-top-of-the-head" knockout blow) this film is a near-perfect western and action-comedy. It's the sort of film that "Shanghai Noon" and all three "Rush Hour" movies desperately tried to be, but none of them come even close.

If you like western and comedies, I think you'll enjoy the heck out of "They Call Me Trinity". I think you'll enjoy it even more if you watch "For a Fistful of Dollars" or "The Magnificent Seven" first, as both are poked fun at with great effect.

Trinity Is Still My Name (aka "All the Way Trinity") (1971)
Starring: Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Yanti Somer, Emilio Delle Piane, Harry Carey Jr., and Pupo De Luca
Director: E.B. Clucher
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Shiftless drifter Trinity (Hill) and his short-tempered brother Bambino (Spencer) promises their dying father (Carey) they'll do something with their lives, so they set out to become successful bandits. It seems however that every robbery they try to commit ends up becoming a good deed (and costing them money instead of earning them any), and when they are mistaken for Federal Agents because Trinity wants to impress a beautiful farmgirl (Somer), they find themselves protecting a Catholic mission that's fallen under the thumb of smugglers and a frontier crimeboss (Piane).

"Trinity Is Still My Name" was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, and it's every bit as funny as I remember it. A sequel to the classic Spaghetti Western spoof "They Call Me Trinity" it's not only as funny as the original, but it also has an identity all its own as it's less concerned with lampooning other films than it is with offering up a unique film.

Hill and Spencer give their usual excellent performances, and they are ably supported by the gorgeous Yanti Somer and a whole host of regulars from the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. The film is also remarkable for the excellent dubbing and the voice actors who did the work. It is so well done and the voice actors so talented that you can hardly tell the film wasn't originally done in English.

"Trinity Is Still My Name" is another near-perfect action-comedy set in the wild west. The script may meander a bit at times, but the jokes are all top-notch--the scenes where Trinity and Bambino go to a fancy French restraunt, and the one where Bambino goes to confessional will have you laughing so hard you'll have to watch those parts of the movie again to catch everything--and the final free-for-all fight where Trinity and Bambino take on dozens of thugs in a fight over $50,000 in ill-gotten loot tops the one at the climax of the original Trinity film.

I recommend this film highly to lovers of light-hearted westerns and quirky comedies.