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Western films, from silent to today

Starblack (1966)

Starblack (1966) poster Robert Woods plays Johnny Blythe, who returns home from his ranch in Colorado for a reunion with his family to find his father dead, his mother married to his uncle, Judge Thomas King.

It doesn’t take long for Johnny to figure out that the story about his father’s fatal fall from a horse is a ruse and that he was really murdered.

Nor does it take him long to zero in on Curry (Franco Lantieri), the owner of the local bank and saloon, as the man behind the trouble. After all, he wanted his dad’s supposedly worthless mine.

Meanwhile, a dressed-all-in-black avenger has started appearing to foil Curry’s plans. He’s almost ghost-like, managing to find the secret passage from the mine to Curry’s office and managing to empty the safe in his bank without detection.

Curry has his suspicions too. After all, the avenger showed up about the same time the seemingly peaceful Johnny and his supposed deaf-mute friend showed up in town.

So Curry starts putting pressure on the folks who owe him money — which seems to be just about everyone — threatening to take thier homes and land if they don’t pay up.

That, he figures, will lure Starblack out of hiding and into his trap.

Review:

An odd Spaghetti Western that’s too silly to be taken very seriously, but too violent to be considered a children’s film, which is what it comes off as at times. Like when Woods is sitting in the kitchen of his mother’s home, strumming a guitar and singing “I Got To Keep Moving On.”

With his sidekick, Starblack is almost a 1960s Batman type character. No masked avenger, he wears what looks like a black nylon stocking over his head to avoid detection and leaves behind a black star to indicate the wrongs he’s righted.

As hokey as it seems, the film is entertaining in spots as the invincible Starblack does away with Curry’s henchmen in a wide variety of ways. At one point, he’s too late to keep a female friend from being raped, but not too late to corner her assailant. He hands her a gun, and let’s her finish the man off.

Elga Andersen plays Caroline Williams the pretty blonde who loves Starblack for his bravery, wishes Johnny was more like him and spends much of the film trying to fend off Curry’s attempts to blackmail her into marriage because of her dad’s gambling debts.

Directed by:
Giovanni Grimaldi
as Gianni Grimaldi

Cast:
Robert Woods … Johnny “Colt” Blythe / Starblack
Elga Andersen … Caroline Williams
Franco Lantieri … Curry
Marianne Tuch … Martha, Johnny’s mother
as Jane Tilden
Andrea Scotti … Sheriff Forbey
Harald Wolff … Judge Thomas King
Renato Rossini … Job
as Howard Ross
Eugenio Galadini .. Henry Williams
as Graham Sooty
Rossela Bergamonti … Mrs. Foster

Runtime: 93 min.

aka
Black Star
Johnny Colt

Score: Benedetto Ghiglia

Song: “I Got To Keep Moving On”
performed by Robert Woods

Memorable lines:

Man confronting Johnny by his father’s graveside: “Dead men should be left in peace.”
Johnny Blythe: “Why don’t you try that first with live men?”

Judge King, when Johnny shows up at dinner with a bruised cheek: “I fell off my horse. It’s a family failing.” At that point, he’d been told his dad died in a fall from a horse.

Curry: “He just killed 10 of my men. All at once. Do I need an army to get rid of this ghost?”
Sheriff: “Ghost? He’s more like the devil.”

Bert, Curry henchman: “You won’t laugh when we tell you why we’re here.”
Henry Williams, sarcastically: “Oh, no. Please don’t tell me Curry’s dead. I’m afraid the pain would kill me.”

Johnny Blythe to Caroline, as she’s encouraging revenge: “A man’s a man when he’s alive. But if he gets killed, he ain’t one no more.”

Trivia:

This marked the only Spaghetti for pretty Elga Andersen, who started working in films with small roles in 1957 and was the top-billed female in Steve McQueen’s 1971 racing film, “Le Mans.”

Robert Woods had gotten his start in Spaghetti Westerns the year before with “Five Thousand Dollars on One Ace” and “The Man from Canyon City.” This is one of four Spaghetti’s he made that were released in 1966, along with “Four Dollars of Revenge” and two highly successful films — “Seven Guns for the MacGregors” and “My Name is Pecos.”

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