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They Call Me Trinity...

a/k/a Lo chiamavano Trinitŗ...

a/k/a My Name is Trinity

     "One store destroyed ... Three heads split like overripe melons ... One man wounded ... One man castrated ... All in two hours ... Just two hours I left you alone. Two hours..."

-- Bambino, on the aftermath of deputizing his brother    

 

     

Reviews:

Gonzoid Cinema

 

 

Buzzkillers!

Trinity: The Fastest, Filthiest and Laziest Gun in the West.

 

Watch it!

AMAZON

DVD

 
Sights &
Sounds:
They Call
Me Trinity
(1970)
 West Films /
 AVCO-Embassy Pictures

Farting
Around:
The Films of
Terence Hill &
Bud Spencer.

God Forgives ... I Don't!

Ace High

Boot Hill

They Call Me Trinity

All the Way Boys

Watch Out, We're Mad

Crime Busters

I'm for the Hippopotamus

Double Trouble

 

Our film opens in sagebrush country, with a dusty drifter being dragged around by his horse on a make-shift travois. When said horse comes to a trading post, the filthy, lethargic passenger gets off and heads inside, where he orders a huge plate of beans, and as he begins gorging himself, draws the attention of two bounty hunters. Checking the drifter's face against their wanted posters, they can't match him up and quickly lose interest. These men have already captured one bounty -- a wounded little Mexican, wanted for murder -- who swears his crime was in self-defense after catching a gringo messing around with his wife. After finishing up his beans, as the stranger moves to leave, he tells the captured Mexican to come with him. Of course, the bounty hunters donít take too kindly to this and want to know the name of the man theyíre about to kill so they can put it on his tombstone. But when told his name is Trinity (Terence Hill), the two men suddenly cower back as Trinityís nefarious reputation as "The right hand of the Devil" proceeds him.

Gathering up the Mexican, he leaves, but on the way out, without even turning around or looking back, Trinity draws his pistol and blindly shoots back into the cabin -- killing both bounty hunters, who were trying to shoot him in the back. I'm guessing that reputation is pretty well-earned. Placing the wounded man on the liter, Trinity mounts up and heads into the nearest town, where three armed men block the street, angrily demanding that the uninterested sheriff, who casually keeps his nose buried in a newspaper, release their buddy from the jail. When the sheriff refuses, they call him out to settle the dispute with lead. Answering the challenge, the sheriff (Bud Spencer) puts down the paper, and, after recognizing him, Trinity spurs his horse on, riding down the middle of the street, right in between the disputing factions. As he slowly rides by, the sheriff recognizes him, too, but doesnít appear all that happy to see him before turning his attention back to the three armed hooligans. Once clear, Trinity bets the wounded Mexican that all three gunmen will be dead before they can even draw. And heís right, as the sheriff quickly guns them all down in-between the blink of an eye. When the Mexican asks the sheriff's name, Trinity says it's his brother, Bambino -- "The left hand of the Devil." And when the two hands of the devil meet, be assured that chaos will soon follow as all kinds of hell is predestined to break loose -- just not in the way you might think...

When most people think of spaghetti westerns, images of Clint Eastwood, adorned in his poncho and chomping on a cigar, probably filter into your mind's eye ... And while Ennio Morricone's wailing soundtrack reaches a fevered pitch, he'd take aim at a sweaty Eli Wallach as Leone zeroed in on his panicked eyes, and then their pistolas would sound like a damned howitzer going off as the lead few and deeds got dirtily done.

That's cool. These are strong images that only add to the surreal, almost mythical quality of this genre. Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy comprises three great films: A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and they deserve a lot of recognition. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of any piece of cinema -- of any genre -- that can stand up to the sheer cinematic fusion of the final three-way duel in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. However, that's just the tip of the iceberg to a treasure trove of hyper-violent action yarns of the old West as interpreted by our Italian friends. We all know about the Man with No Name, but how about the coffin dragging Django? Or Sartana? Or the bickering and brawling brothers, Trinity and Bambino? No? Well, I hope to rectify that situation as we delve into the world of spaghetti westerns well beyond the range of Leone and Eastwood.

With the international box-office bonanza that A Fist Full of Dollars first engineered back in 1964, imitators were soon to follow to cash in, and over the next several years, some 300 spaghetti westerns found their way to the big screen. But like any kind of pasta that's been set out too long, the repeating formula was starting to get a little chewy and brittle by the time the 1960's closed out ... Enter Enzo Barboni.

Barboni (a/k/a E.B. Clucher) broke into the business as a camera operator back in the 1950's but quickly rose to the rank of cinematographer for the likes of Mario Caiano's Nightmare Castle and Sergio Corbucci's Django. Looking to expand his cinematic horizons even more, and seeing that the Italian oaters were running on fumes, Barboni saw the comedic potential that could be wrung out of these hyper-violent actioneers and started shopping around a script for Trinity that was a little different. And a little too different, it would seem, because no one would touch the thing until it attracted the attention of Roberto Palaggi, who brought along a couple of bankable stars in Hill and Spencer (-- and more on these guys can be found in our follow-up review). Intrigued by the satirical and slapstick elements, they all took a chance on what boils down to nothing but a spoof-n-goof on the already amped-up genre conventions. Barboni just took it to the next logical step and let the cameras roll, and the resulting characters and mayhem went on to break all kinds of domestic box-office records. Like it's namesake, the film is one part western, one part Three Stooges short, and one part Warner Bros. cartoon, and these antics also translated well internationally as They Call Me Trinity went on to crack the Top Ten in box-office money-makers for 1970. No one involved in the production expected this boon, but a sequel was definitely in order -- and we're getting ahead of ourselves a bit. We'll get to that, but first, let's rejoin our current review already in progress...

Now, though our two main characters are brothers, there is no familial love lost between them. Wanting to know how the lawless Bambino became a sheriff, the older brother admits he just took the badge off a man he stumbled across after breaking out of prison. Seems the man was to be the new sheriff of -- wherever the hell they are. And after shooting this stranger in the leg, Bambino stole his horse, his badge, and took his place. Now, he's biding his time until his old partners -- Timmy and Weasel -- show up to pull off a scheme he's concocted.

Meanwhile, Trinity wasnít the only witness to the earlier gunfight, and Major Harrison (Farley Granger) was very disappointed that the sheriff survived the ordeal. Seems Harrison has been butting heads with the new sheriff over a group of sodbusters he's been trying to run off, so he can expand his ranching operation onto their land. But Bambino doesnít care about the farmers, he just wants to get his hands on the Majorís unbranded horses before he gets them into the protected valley -- the aforementioned scheme. When Trinity asks why the farmers don't just fight back, he's told they canít because itís against their religious principles -- these pilgrims abhor violence and wonít allow themselves to bear arms. And since things are starting to get a little hairy, and needing some help keeping the peace, Bambino convinces Trinity to be his new deputy for awhile.

With his new star barely pinned on, in rapid succession, Trinity falls in love with a couple of those farmerís daughters and beats up a few of the Majorís goons in retaliation for not letting these fair maidens use the general store. He then confronts the Major personally, and in the process wounds two more of his men ... That evening, after Bambino has gone to bed, Trinity tries to pick another fight with the Majorís men after they say something bad about his mother. (They call him an old son of a so and so.) Thinking he'll need some help, Old Jonathan (-- think Walter Brennan) wakes Bambino up, who joins his little brother at the bar, where he's told what they said about their mother. And even though what they said about dear old mom was true, the family honor must be upheld and the two brothers wipe the floor with the goons -- well, Trinity mostly watches while Bambino does all the hard work.

A reoccurring theme in all their films; Hill usually started these brawls but it was always Spencer who finished them.

The next day, when the brothers ride out to the farmerís camp, Father Tobias (Dan Sturkie) invites them to stay for dinner ... The two girls we met earlier give them the appropriate headgear for the meal, but after they say grace, the camp is raided by Mezcal (Rema Capitani), a Mexican bandito, and his gang. Apparently, heís raided this homestead before and enjoys lining the peaceful farmers up and slapping them around for awhile. This time, however, there are a couple of atheists in the deck, and after knocking the first two men over with ease, the third -- Bambino, is smacked twice with no effect. And as Mezcal winds up for a third, he gets a patented Bambino gong on the head. Flattened into a babbling mess, the other banditos gather up their wounded jefť and vacate.

Back in town, needing some professional help, Harrison hires some real gunnies to take care his problem. But when the hired mercenaries follow Trinity into a store, Trinity asks to see their underwear. We then cut out to the street and hear several gunshots and breaking furniture from inside, and then the two gunmen, sans pants, run out onto the street, fleeing for their lives, never to be heard from again. After that embarrassing incident, Harrison confronts the sheriff directly, demanding Trinityís resignation or he will be forced to contact his friend, the Governor, and get a new sheriff appointed. Unable to control his brother, and fearing he might ruin his plans -- like he always does, Bambino forces Trinity out of town at gunpoint.

Circling back to the farmerís camp, Trinity finds his two girlfriends bathing in the creek. Torn between the two, he's then informed they're Mormons, meaning both can be his wife, and Trinity likes this idea so much he decides to become a farmer on the spot. But he still has to deal with the Major, and since arguing with Tobias to defend themselves will go nowhere, Trinity realizes he needs help as two familiar riders approach the camp. Recognizing Timmy and Weasel (Luciano Ross and Enzio Marano), the two outlaws say they were delayed by a gimpy sheriff who was looking for the man who stole his badge. And by delayed, I mean they shot him in the good leg, stole his horse, and broke his crutches. Taking them to see Bambino, Trinity then asks for their help to defeat the Major. But Bambino adamantly refuses -- until Trinity offers that if they'll help, heíll get married and settle down, which means the possibility of them crossing paths in the future would be less likely, which would mean Trinity would stop messing up his plans ... Bambino agrees. Meanwhile, Major Harrison and Mezcal have formed an alliance, when the bandit agrees to drive the farmers out of the valley for twenty of the Major's best horses -- but Mezcal only agrees if the Major will allow him to steal them. (Receiving the horses would be undignified and an insult to his family's reputation.) Harrison accepts these terms, and in the meantime, Mezcal sends a man to spy on the farmers.

At the Mormon's camp, since they wonít use guns and will only fight in the case of self-defense, Trinity, Bambino and the others do their best to train the farmers on how to fight. And judging by their fighting technique, they'll probably cause as much -- if not more, damage to themselves as the banditos ever could. When Bambino spots the spy, he sends Weasel out to bring him in alive. Upon questioning the prisoner they discover the Majorís treachery. But disguising themselves as Mezcalís men, the brothers beat them to the punch and steal all of the Majorís horses for themselves. This, in turn, brings Mezcal, the Major, and all of their men to the Mormon's camp. Luckily, Bambino has a plan:

Hiding in a wagon before the bad guys show up, when the Major orders the others to destroy the fledgling homestead he wanders too close, allowing Bambino to secretly stick a shotgun to his back and quietly order the Major to tell his men to respect the farmers principles and drop all their weapons. His men think itís a mighty peculiar order but comply, and once they're disarmed, Bambino springs the trap. Warned that their feud isnít over, Trinity disagrees, saying it will end here and takes off his gun belt. Bambino follows his lead, and as the two brothers size up the competition, Brother Tobias starts to read from the scriptures to keep the peace, choosing the Psalm about a time to reap and sow, and then comes upon the verse that says there is a time to fight. With that, and with the Almighty's permission, a brawl explodes as the Mormons join the fracas. As the fight goes on for a good ten minutes, and Mezcal keeps breaking larger and larger pieces of furniture on Bambino with no effect, the farmers didnít quite get all the fighting techniques down but manage to get the job done. Even Trinity pitches in for the entire fight until the good guys win the day and the Major is banished to Nebraska ... HEY!

Victorious, Bambino sends his men to round up the horses so they can head for California. But when they bring the animals in, they find that theyíve already been marked with the Mormon's brand. Bambino smells his brotherís hand in this, who thought it was only right, as compensation for all the damage the Major had caused. Seething for a few moments, Bambino eventually calms and states -- "I donít hate you. I hate our ma for not strangling you when youíre were born." Bambino then rides off with Timmy and Weasel, leaving his brother far, far behind him. After they go, Tobias gathers his flock and begins to thank the Lord with prayer. He also welcomes their new brother into the fold, and talks about all the hard labor and sweat heíll have to put in for his new chosen vocation. And with each horrid description, Trinity looks to his brother, who is getting farther and farther away -- and by the time Tobias finishes the prayer, Trinity is long gone.

When Trinity catches up with the others, his brother warns that if heís going west, Trinity had better go east -- or else. Left behind again, as he prepares to take his customary spot on his mobile bed, a wagon and rider approach -- a rider with a very visible set of crutches. When the real sheriff asks if heís seen the three men on his wanted posters, Trinity claims they just robbed him and points off in the direction that Bambino just went. After the sheriff takes off, Trinity stretches out on his stretcher and tells his horse to head for California, and they slowly ride off after them into the sunset...

The End

With more action, more laughs, and more fights, I think They Call Me Trinity is the better of the two Trinity movies. My favorite scenes are actually two small bits that might be just throwaway ad-libs. The first comes about halfway through, when Trinity tries to pick a fight in the saloon and old Jonathan goes to wake up Bambino. When told his brother ran into some trouble with the Majorís men, Bambino brightens up for a second -- and actually smiles! -- and asks, hopefully, "Did they kill him?" and is severely disappointed when Jonathan says no. (A lot of this relies on Spencerís facial expressions, which are hilarious.) Second, is during the grand slam brawl at the end, where, among the confusion, Trinity accidentally punches Bambino. Realizing his error, he scrunches up and asks for forgiveness before slinking away. Again, these guys have a gift for physical comedy. Hill is at his impish best stirring up trouble and romancing the women, and Spencer can do more with a grunt and a slow burn than most comics Iíve seen. I like how whenever the townsfolk would give a friendly "Hello" to their new sheriff, the burly Bambino would reply with quick "Shut-up!" Both brothers are so filthy, here, that I swear you can see tufts of dirt rise off of them when they walk around. And when Harrison gives a speech about the noble horse to the hired guns, his men roll their eyes because theyíve obviously heard this boring speech before. And after the brawl is ended, the Mormons quickly start helping the banditos whose heads they just kicked in. Funny stuff.

Really, the entire film is nothing but strung together comic vignettes, and each successive one more wilder than the last until the big brawl at the end. (The strange thing is, each one could stand on their own as short little films. Weird.) And at some point, you slowly realize that hardly anybody gets killed in these movies. Trinity kills the two bounty hunters at the beginning -- I think. And Bambino definitely kills the three hooligans when we first meet him, but after that, these guys shoot to wound (-- and I donít think anybody gets killed in the sequel.) After theyíve both been established as being so lethal with the gun, maybe the brothers feel they have an unfair advantage. Maybe thatís why they always have everybody lose their guns, too, and settle things with their fists. Far from honest, the brothers both have a sense of fair play and even the playing field in their fights by not using them. Even Weasel and Timmy only wound the real sheriff and break his crutches.

Granted, the comedy on display here is definitely low brow and isnít all that complicated. I know some people donít get into that kind of thing but it makes me laugh my ass off if itís done well -- and here it definitely is. Barboni's film definitely owes more to Three Stooges than John Ford or Leone. And like with the Stooges, some people like them -- and some people think theyíre just monumentally stupid. And using that as a gauge will really help you decide if you wanna see these films or not.

Now, about that sequel...

They Call Me Trinity a/k/a Lo chiamavano TrinitŗÖ (1970) West Film :: AVCO Embassy Pictures / EP: Roberto Palaggi / P: Italo Zingarelli, Joseph E. Levine, Donald Taylor / D: Enzo Barboni / W: Enzo Barboni / C: Aldo Giordani / E: Giampiero Giunti / M: Franco Micalizzi / S: Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Farley Granger, Steffen Zacharias, Dan Sturkie, Gisela Hahn, Elena Pedemonte, Remo Capitani

Originally Posted: 02/15/01 :: Rehashed 04/18/09

Knuckled-out by Chad Plambeck: misspeller of words, butcher of all things grammatical, and king of the run on sentence. Copy and paste at your own legal risk. Questions? Comments? Shoot us an e-mail.
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