Mountie Captain: "You've just made an enemy of White Wolf."
Kitosch: "I did what??? I did no such thing! I only made friends with his wife, that's all I did!"
Mountie Captain: "That's precisely what I'm getting at, and you know it. Indians don't like white men who make friends with their wives"
I now have a good pile of them! I was able to find a source with every Euro-Mountie film that my research has been able to discover. One of these is the Italian/Spanish production, Kitosh, The Man from the North, originally titled Frontera al Sur (Frontier of the South), filmed in Spain in 1967. Though it was apparently filmed in Spanish, I've only seen a dubbed version. It's as well-dubbed as any of these films, and although this particular copy is an occasionally brutal pan-and-scan, it's highly watchable. Any port in a storm, wot? I've yet to see a DVD release of it, and many Euro-western fans don't even know it exists!
It stars George Hilton as the rakish tracker/woodsman/gunfighter David Kitosch. This seems to be a name very much in line with traditional Spaghetti naming conventions; the Italians in particular have a unique perspective on the American west, and they tend to pick some really odd, but macho-ish-ly cool names for their gunslingers. Kitosch fits right in with some of the many odd names in the genre, particularly the famous ones: Manaja, Keoma, Sabata, Sartana, and the most famous of them all, Django (the gunfighter, not the guitarist). Names in general are certainly a big part of the magic of a western character, and the Italians know it very well; so much so, in fact, that the baddest of the gunfighters is a man with no name! It's an interesting and effective convention...it sets our guy apart from the crowd, and imbues him with strangeness, and it ties him to the various qualities of the cowboy hero/anti-hero archetype.
Typical of the Euro-western, Kitosch is very much in the anti-hero camp. Between the debauching of beautiful women and running from hostile Aboriginal Canadians (traditionally referred to as "indians"), he works with the Royal Canadian Mounted police as a scout. To let us know from the beginning what kind of guy our character is, Kitosh, The Man from the North begins with a kiss; Kitosch smooches the wife of White Wolf, a local native chief, and immediately we're on the run! In wide-eyed haste, he horses-up and makes tracks for the fort of the local Mountie contingent, with the afore-mentioned indians on his tail. From then on the plot goes a bit cosmic and stream-of-consciousness-ish. Kitosch is asked to travel with the Mounties to protect a shipment of gold from a large band of outlaws, which he declines, and then there is a carriage full of beautiful women (each of whom seem to have a different emotional issue), who seem to have not much of a raison d'être (other than being both A) beautiful, and B) women), and, of course, there is the mysterious Mountie Major Baker, played by Pierro Lulli, the uncrowned king of the Peplum/Sword and Sandal film. He is Kitosh's foil throughout the story, fighting for the upper hand over him (in fact, impersonated by Kitosch for much of the picture, much to his chagrin). Throw in gunfights (fights in general, actually...diverse and plentiful), piles of gold bars, Mountie action, a Christian indian named Joseph, and more unpredictable plot turns than three Republic serials, and you have this film in a nutshell.
It's all very surreal. Surreal, and EXTREMELY enjoyable. It took me a few minutes to grab a hold of the flow of the thing, but once I got the interior logic (or whatever term you would use to describe the interior flow of this swirling mass of themes and storyline), it was quite an amazing ride.
I was excited when I heard that Hilton was in this one. I'm a big fan of the Franco Nero Spaghetti Western masterpiece Massacre Time, filmed the year before Kitosch (and reviewed by me HERE), and Hilton was awesome in a supporting role as Nero's character's brother. He has such a strange vibe; one part chaotic clown, a couple parts daring hero, and a dash or two of emotionally volatile killer. Though he often plays a role with humour, it is very seldom (in my view) that it's ever really that funny. He has an anti-hero's edge that cuts, even when he's making what is obviously meant to be humorous. His characters are the types of fellow upon which the good side is best to be, and I suspect it may have been the same for the man himself.
I suggest that you get out your tin-foil Mountie hat and put Kitosch in the DVD player...it's awesome.
This is a part of the 1967 in Film Blogathon, hosted by the marvelous Silver Screenings and The Rosebud Cinema blogs.
Click on the image to the right to check out which other films were born in the same year that I was, and click on the two fab blog names above to see their magical scribblings on the moving picture!
Here is my (ever-growing) list of Mountie movies and serials! They span from 1914 to modern times, and cover every style and format; silent, talkie, b&w, colour, film, videotape, & DVD! Enjoy!