After the “how’s he look”, “how’s he sound”, and “is he still the Looney Toon of the West” questions are answered, you are left with one question. Is this Terence Hill’s My Name Is Nobody? In other words, is this the proper sendoff that he helped to give Henry Fonda some 40 years ago?
Doc West begins with a robbery at the post office. West (Terence Hill) was there sending money and he sets off in pursuit of the outlaws. He arrives in Holysand and he finds two families set against each other. The sheriff with an aching back is played by Paul Sorvino. West figures out from which family the outlaws came and helps the other one. Between them and the sheriff, they bring the bad guys to justice. In the process, West must come to peace with an incident that changed him from a European surgeon in Boston to Doc West, the cardsharp. It’s very straightforward, cheesy, and family-oriented.
How’s he look? Good and bad. For his age, he is obviously in good physical condition. You look at his face, those eyes, the expressions and you know it’s him. But you also look at that face that has seen so many years and so many films and he looks like he is near his end. Then again, he is Italian and good sections of that side of my family meet 70 years with another 30 years left to go. It’s just the impression that you get when you watch.
How’s he sound? Again, good and bad. He no longer speaks with that almost comical pitch and American accent. His deliveries feel like those from a beloved grandfather who is all there mentally, but world weary. However, he’s 70, and he’s not trying to play anything younger. I find it soothing to listen to him speak slow and with that beautiful Italian accent. There is an honesty to his voice that I only hear in his earlier films when I compare the characters of Cat Stevens and Trinty. He was honestly a comedian, not a tough guy. Here he’s honestly an old Italian cowboy, not a young American gunslinger.
Is he still the Looney Toon of the West? No, not at all. He hasn’t lost his sense of humor, but at his age, he can’t give the same physical performances he did in his prime. That would be like asking Buster Keaton to do his silent movie stunts circa Sunset Boulevard (1950). Buster probably couldn’t do it and shouldn’t have because he would look ridiculously over extended. The same goes for Hill if he tried to do the same slap happy fist fighting that was his signature.
So we come to the most important question. Is this Terence Hill’s My Name Is Nobody? No, that movie not only gave Henry Fonda a proper sendoff, but it was a passing of the torch from the classic to the spaghetti. We can argue, but it’s fair to say that it went from cowboys like Dix and Hart to Wayne to Eastwood to Nero to Hill. There were others like Fonda in the classic era and Milian in the spaghetti west, but Hill was a king. The kings were dead by the 1980’s and by the 2000’s the only king left has taken a throne behind the camera. Hill has no-one to pass the torch onto. For that alone, Hill can never have his My Name Is Nobody. What he can have is Doc West. A movie that lets us see Hill one more time. See him eat beans again. See those facial expressions and those blue eyes. Hit a group of guys quickly, one more time. Let us who know and love his work, enjoy him one last time.
I mentioned that he looked and sounded tired. I also used language that made it sound like this was his last film. There are at least two sequels that I haven’t watched yet. Maybe he looks and sounds worn out because that’s the character. I’m sure at 70 he is, but he is probably accentuated it to give a good performance. The film would never stand if it were not for Terence Hill’s presence, but who cares. Neither did Man Of The East (1972), which a good section of the film seems to be borrowed from. It never felt sad or uncomfortable. I was ecstatic to see him again and look forward to watching the sequel.
If you love Terence Hill, remember him as Trinty. I get the feeling that this is a look at Mario Girotti. It’s worth a look.