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El Llanero

Jaguar

Spain 1963
produced by
Big-4
directed by Jess Franco
starring José Suárez, Sylvia Sorrente, Todd Martin, Manuel Zarzo, Georges Rollin, Roberto Camardiel, Marta Reves, Roberto Font, Beni Deus, Xan das Bolas, María Vico, Félix Dafauce, Alicia Altabella, Mike Brendel, Antonio G. Cara, Albertina Escobar, Tito García, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba, Rafael Hernández, Antonio Padilla, José Riesgo, Francisco Serrano, Guillermo Vera
story by Jess Franco (as David Khünne), screenplay by Jess Franco, Nicole Guettard (as Nicole David), music by Daniel White

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Venezuela, the 1800s: Colonel Saltierra (Georges Rollin) and his men attack the hacienda of ruling gouvernor Mendoza and kill everyone in sight, only the Mondozas' loyal servant Juano (Roberto Camardiel) escapes with their son José.

A couple of decades later, Saltierra rules the region with an iron hand, but there's a bandit, Jaguar (José Suarez) who seems to thwart Saltierra's plans every step along the way, by raiding all his gold transports and Robin Hood-like distributing the loot among the poor in the country. And he does so by having a network of spies all over the city, first and foremost Lolita (Sylvia Sorrente), a bar singer as ravishing as she's courageous who really worships the ground the Jaguar is walking on. Then one day along the river, Jaguar meets Inés (Marta Reves), who has picked the spot for a bit of skinny-dipping, and the two almost immediately fall in love. There's one snatch though, while Inés might sympathize with Jaguar's agenda, she's also the daughter of Saltierra, and her father actually wants to marry her to his right hand Lieutnant Kalman (Todd Martin), basically an uncultivated brute who's very efficient in torturing and killing - and who has the time of his life when capturing one of Jaguar's men, Carlos (Manuel Zarzo), whom Jaguar has to spring not only once but twice. Then though Saltierra officially announces the wedding between Inés and Kalman, which he and Kalman intend as a trap for Jaguar - which he most certainly seems to be falling for if it wasn't for Lolita, who sends reinforcements when she learns about Jaguar's blends. And in the big finale, Kalman gets his just desserts, Saltierra by mistake shoots Inés and then begs to be executed, Jaguar learns that he is actually the son of Mendoza (no surprise there), the region is freed, and Jaguar and Lolita might actually become a couple after all ...

 

Director Jess Franco sure has been called many names, and not all of them nice ones, but it's mostly agreed upon that he usually suffered from budgets too low for his ambitions. This is not the case with Jaguar, an European western from just about before European westerns became en vogue, and also a film where no corners seem to be cut - sure it's not Hollywood style big budget but everything is in place to tell its story ... and the result is a pretty decent film: Sure the story is a bit stale and predictable, but thanks to atmospheric filmmaking with spots of the macabre, unusual camera angles that are often reminiscent of Franco's gothics, or even a musical number that's as tense as narratively important, the film remains interesting throughout.

That all said, I wouldn't rank Jaguar among Franco's most interesting movies, as he follows the genre formula a bit too closely in this one and lets none of his obsessions shine through, but it's a somewhat lost gem still and while not on par with the classics of Sergio Leone or Sergio Corbucci, it's still above average when it comes to Euro westerns from the era, and deserves rediscovery.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD