Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week Seventy Four: Chino
When Bronson comes on screen, it’s a relief for me. There’s no action star like him, certainly not living. What I didn’t expect out of Chino was a tender story. Bronson films seem culturally grouped together under the Death Wish category but really his films are quite diverse, within the action genre of course. Take for instance, the wild satirical nature of From Noon till Three, contrast that with the cold nihilism of Chato’s Land, then come back this way for the loving yet tough Chino.
The relationship with the boy works without ever becoming too sentimental. The relationship with the woman, played of course by Bronson’s wife Jill Ireland, works even better. I’m starting to appreciate Ireland more as not just a tag along. She needed to be cast in the right role and excelled in prissy ones like this whereas she feels a little miscast in parts like the hooker in Harsh Times. Though definitely out of step with today’s “woke” culture, the rough romance between her character and Chino feels true for the frontier. And the way it ends couldn’t be more real.
The action is good but don’t expect much of it and, to be honest, that’s my preference. I’ve always preferred action films where less is more. A film like The Professional isn’t packed with fight scenes but the ones it has certainly count. I can see how this film might leave some wanting but it left me wanting another hour of screen time just to watch them be quiet.
One last note: this is labeled an Italian Western but it feels like no Spaghetti. For me, that’s a good thing and I give credit to director John Sturges. I’ve never been a big fan of his work but he’s one of the few cases of filmmakers who actually got better in his later years, giving us this and Hour of the Gun in a five year span, not long before he retired. Now I will have to watch Joe Kidd again, which landed somewhere in the middle.
Seen on Tubi.