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Cherry Pop

(Tony Anthony, Ringo Starr, et al / DVD / R / (1971) 2016) / ABKCO)

Overview: A blind, but deadly, gunman, is hired to escort fifty mail order brides to their miner husbands. His business partners double cross him, selling the women to bandit Domingo so the Blindman heads into Mexico in pursuit.

DVD Verdict: Personally, I knew nothing of this movie until it was offered up for review. So, upon its arrival, I sat down with some friends, hit play, and allowed 'Blindman' to wash over myself and my guests. Well, it has to be said that it is well worth the price of purchase, for all you guys out there that are thinking about owning it, of that you can be well assured.

'Blindman" won't win any Oscar's, indeed it never did, and it might well have those viewers with a fine Spaghetti Western pallete turning off, shaking their collective heads in disgust, but I'm here to tell you that 'Blindman' is one of those movies you need top get the whole way through to truly appreciate. Shot at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, and on location in southern Spain, directed by Ferdinando Baldi (David and Goliath), and featuring Riccardo Pallottini's gorgeous cinematography, 'Blindman' needs to be seen by a whole new generation.

Chock full of sarcasm, and with a story line that's as bizarre as they come, 'Blindman' (according to a friend of mine here on said same viewing night) was inspired by the Japanese "Zat˘ichi" films about the eponymous blind Samurai (played by Shintar˘ Katsu"). That said, this 1971 'Blindman' stands alone as one of the best films of that era, of this genre, that I have seen in a long, long time.

Co-produced by Tony Anthony, Allen Klein and Saul Swimmer, I say that previous stand-alone statement having witnessed the cheesy dialogue, the over acting, the over reaching on the belly laughs (notably by the bad guys as they tease our hero, the blind man), and the sets (that had obviously all seen better days). Yes, I stand by what I say due to Tony Anthony's turn as the titular blind man, a literally blind gunman who escorts a group of fifty women to Texas, where they are to be married to miners.

His acting, behind those pale blue contact lenses (well, maybe they weren't - did they even have contact lenses back in 1971?) is played sensitively, very calmly, very cooly, and very methodically; compared to the madness that ensues at all times all around him. Anyway, during his turn as a man trying to get these fifty women to Texas, he is cheated by his partner and the women are all kidnapped by a gang working for two Mexican pimps/bandidos (led by Domingo, Lloyd Battista) and their beautiful sister, Sweet Mama (Magda Konopka).

But, you see, they underestimate the blind man, for, as he states more than once in the film, he simply wants his fifty women back. He doesn't wish to hurt anyone, doesn't wish to shed any blood, just wants his fifty women back. And so the man who can only trust his horse and his own hearing, sets out to recapture his human cargo, sadly, as he is the coolest gunslinger the West has ever seen, setting off explosions galore, shooting bad guys galore, but making time for some soup - which comes with an extra side of snake!

Two thirds of the way through 'The Blindman', our central character is asked by the head bad guy why he wants these fifty women back. Hs replies, calmly, because he has a contract. Plain and simple. Done and dusted - save for the fact that they all then belly laugh in front of him for having such morals in the Wild, and oh so dirty West. He even, in amongst all the chaos, asks for peace, but that doesn't get him, or them very far either.

As for Ringo Starr, he is also a bit of a legend in this movie, as with his dark, long, unwashed, unkept hair and beard, together with his tan, he looks the part also. He had actually just launched his solo music career the year before, amidst the dissolution of the Beatles, and so was looking for a movie role. He plays the part of the young bad guy brother, fantastically-named Candy, who falls for one of the women and strives to make her his thereafter. Indeed, the scene where the women all try and escape into the sand dunes, slipping, falling, rolling time after time after time is as Benny Hill as they come; unintentionally, one assumes.

With a soundtrack that includes Bob Seger's first hit single, "Heavy Music", along with the instrumental score compositions by the very talented Stelvio Cipriati, the soundtrack to 'Blindman' is one of those you can listen to on repeat, for sure.

FYI: Ringo Starr actually wrote and recorded a title song for this film, but weirdly it wasn't used in the movie. It was subsequently released as the b-side of his hit single, "Back Off, Boogaloo". Released on DVD, Blu-ray and in digital formats on November 4th, 2016 by ABKCO Films, the newly restored versions are in HD, mastered from the original 35mm negative. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and with a 5.1 Soundtrack.