The One-Eyed Soldiers (1966)

THE ONE-EYED SOLDIERS (1966)
Article 3285 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-22-2010
Posting Date: 8-12-2010
Directed by John Ainsworth
Featuring Dale Robertson, Luciana Paluzzi, Guy Deghy
Country: Yugoslavia / Italy / UK / USA
What it is: Offbeat crime thriller

When a UN medical representative falls to his death eluding pursuers, his dying words refer cryptically to “one eyed soldiers”. Several people are interested in the meaning of this comment – a newspaper reporter, the dead man’s beautiful daughter, a fat man who poses as an undertaker, a police inspector… and a crime syndicate headed by a vicious dwarf.

Mill Creek used to put out movie megapacks, which were basically very affordable DVD packages of 50 movies each, and, having a weakness for such things, I bought all of them they produced, irrespective of whether they belonged to the genres I was covering. This occasionally proved very helpful, as a movie I would otherwise have to hunt down was sitting on one of these sets. I found this one in the “Gunslingers” collection.

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, the word “gunslingers” implies westerns, and the blurb on the set pretty much backs this up. However, this movie is anything but a western; it’s set in a border town in an unnamed Central European country in modern times, a decidedly unwestern milieu. There’s gunplay, all right, but that’s about the only reason I can see for the movie’s anomalous inclusion on this set. Furthermore, it’s pretty marginal in terms of any fantastic content; there’s some touches of horror in that part of the setting involves tombs and catacombs, we have a dwarf and an ugly mute, and there’s a scene where a woman faints when she sees a body rise from its casket (though we audience members know all along that the man in the coffin is very much alive). These are very slight touches, to be sure, so it no more belongs to the fantastic genres than the western one.

On its own terms, I found it muddled but enjoyable. My main enjoyment came from Guy Deghy, who plays the fat man; he appears to be channeling Sydney Greenstreet, and he’s given priceless dialogue to match. I suspect he’s also in a dual role, as I see no credit on IMDB for an actress playing the fat woman who the police mistake for the fat man in drag, since she bears an uncanny resemblance to him. The story is a bizarre crime thriller, hardly believable but entertaining enough in its own way.

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