US film poster
|Directed by||Paolo Cavara|
|Produced by||Joseph Janni
|Written by||Harry Essex
Ira von Fürstenberg
|Music by||Daniele Patucchi|
|Cinematography||Tonino Delli Colli|
|Edited by||Mario Morra|
Compagnia Cinematografica Prima
|29 March 1973|
Los Amigos, also known as Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears, is a 1973 Spaghetti Western film starring Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero in 1973. The film is loosely based on the life of Deaf Smith, with direction of Paolo Cavara.
The Republic of Texas has just gained its independence from Mexico. Erastus "Deaf" Smith, who is a deaf mute, and his partner Johnny Ears are sent by President Sam Houston to stop general Morton, who plots against the annexation of Texas by the USA.
They find their contact McDonald and his family massacred by Morton and his men. McDonald’s daughter Hester is married to Morton, and when Smith convinces her of the truth, she helps them overhear a conversation where a German diplomat promises Morton new weapons.
They have a saloon fight with Morton's gang. At a brothel, Johnny recognizes a prostitute he saw bathing in a river, Suzie Q. Deaf pays so he can spend a night with her. Later he is jealous of her other customers, but when she suggests that they leave together using her money, he says that Deaf needs him. Later he refuses to go on with the dangerous mission because he is in love and hits Deaf.
Deaf steals dynamite in Morton’s fort but is almost given away by a garter with bells that he was given by a prostitute and has forgotten that he still keeps in his pocket. He is then pursued by three men and kills one of them in a sneak fight in a cave, by throwing a knife against his gun blaze. As Deaf came out of the cave, he saw the dead bodies of the other two men who were killed by Johnny who came to rejoin him. Deaf gestured in jest that Johnny owes him a punch.
They set a trap with explosives to blow up the weapons transport to Morton, but stop the explosion when they see children playing near the wagon train. Instead they infiltrate Morton's fort and killed his men with explosives and with the new weapon, a machine gun that Deaf can handle because he could read the lips of the instructor. Johnny gave his gun to Morton for a shoot out with Deaf. Morton is killed.
Susie leaves together with Johnny and Deaf. In the morning the deaf mute is gone, leaving Johnny his watch. Johnny cries out his name.
|Anthony Quinn||Deaf Smith|
|Franco Nero||Johnny Ears|
|Pamela Tiffin||Susie, the Hooker|
|Franco Graziosi||Gen. Lucius Morton|
|Ira von Fürstenberg||Hester McDonald Morton|
In his investigation of narrative structures in Spaghetti Western films, Fridlund discusses this film as a variation of the partnership plot that was used in many Spaghetti Westerns following the success of For a Few Dollars More. Compared to the latter story, where the bounty killer partners at first have a fight and one of them later turns out to have a secret vengeance motive, the two protagonists of Los Amigos form a steady pair from the beginning. Johnny acquires a secondary motive—a love interest—and in the end their partnership is dissolved. Otherwise this is basically a professional story that concentrates on the problems and the methods of the heroes to reach their goals, especially the conditions arising from Smith's deafness.
About the director
Good morning from Rome: «This is not a spaghetti western,» director Paolo Cavara insisted on the set of Los Amigos, or, as it may be called, Deaf Smith and Johhny Ears, or perhaps Two men. The two men are Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero – and the girl, Pamela Tiffin, by the way… «I’m not one of those western directors,» Cavara adds. «The day of those blood–and–guts oaters made over here is over. They have to something else–and this one is a “psychological western.”» (…) «The Italians prefer their U.S. pictures dubbed,» director Cavara confirmed. Three of the four theatres SRO–showing The Godfather here show dubbed versions, one with subtitles. «We have been dubbing here for 25 years and do it perfectly,» he said. He was shooting most of this film with sound, rare for these h’yar parts. And was using a very lightweight, easily portable 35m Arriflex camera. Director Cavara had filmed many Mondo Cane scenes in the US, and ironically, last year was about to shoot a film, "Getting Off", in N.Y.. with a promising stage actor – Al Pacino. But after four months’ preparation, the film deal fell through. He hopes to be able to nab Pacino for a future project. One coming up is "Men A" to film in N.Y., Africa and Orient. It’s a story about man and pollution, a subject which now seems to be as universal as westerns, spaghetti or otherwise. «But, – Cavara smiles – whatever the film I make, it is always the same – about human relationship.» He wants Nero to star again for him…
- Fridlund, Bert: The Spaghetti Western. A Thematic Analysis. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company Inc., 2006 pp. 151-53.