My Name is Nobody

My Name is Nobody

Western, Comedy | 116 mins | Released: 1973
Director: Tonio Valerii
Starring: Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, Jean Martin, R. G. Armstrong, Karl Braun, Leo Gordon, Steve Kanaly
Our Rating: 7

Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) is an aging legendary gunslinger that wants to retire in peace to Europe, and get away from young gunmen constantly trying to test themselves against the master. The film opens with three gunmen attempting to ambush Beauregard in a barbershop. After Beauregard has dispatched them, the barber’s son asks his father if there is anyone in the world faster than Beauregard, to which the barber replies “Faster than him? Nobody!”

After getting off a river ferry, Beauregard watches a bum (Terence Hill) trying to catch fish. He then carries on to an old goldmine, only to find a dying acquaintance (Red), who had just been shot by a gang. Beauregard questions what happened and asks after the whereabouts of a certain Nevada, but Red only manages to disclose Nevada’s village (Acoma).

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At a horse relay station the bum is asked by three men to deliver a basket to a certain person inside. It turns out to be Beauregard, who is being informed by the post office boy that his ship to Europe will sail within sixteen days from New Orleans, at a ticket price of $500. The bum impresses Beauregard with his knowledge of the latter’s track record, and then throws the basket outside. A bomb inside the basket explodes, leaving the three men in disarray. The bum identifies himself as “Nobody.” “Nobody” idolizes Beauregard and wants him to increase his fame by facing off the Wild Bunch single-handed. The Wild Bunch are a gang of 150 bandits who use a fake goldmine to launder their train robbery gold loot. The owner of the goldmine (Sullivan) has a hunch Beauregard is out to kill him, so he tries to get to him first. This explains the two previous attacks on Beauregard. However, the Wild Bunch wants Sullivan to focus on keeping his reputation clean.

At Acoma, Beauregard is awaited by Nobody, who reveals that Nevada is dead by showing him his grave. It turns out that Nevada was Beauregard’s brother. Again, Nobody challenges him to face the Wild Bunch, but Beauregard declines, and notices that Nobody’s saddle is decorated with mirrored conchas, or shells.

Nobody arrives at a saloon town. After humiliating the local gunslingers with his drawing speed and accuracy, he is summoned to a private poker room in the saloon; where Sullivan lays out the offer of a lavish bounty in exchange for killing Beauregard.

Nobody agrees, but Sullivan doesn’t trust him, and sets up some men of his own around town as a back-up plan. When Beauregard arrives in town, Nobody indeed has no intention of killing him, but on the contrary helps him do away with Sullivan’s men. The Wild Bunch rides into town, to collect sticks of dynamite, caching them in their saddles bags, which are decorated with mirrored conchas (much like Nobody’s). They ride out again, uninterested in Beauregard and Nobody.

An old resident of the town, tells Beauregard that he was bought out of a derelict gold mine by Nevada and Red, and saw them make a deal with Sullivan afterwards. Miraculously, the mine then started producing prodigious amounts of gold. Nobody walks in, again urging Beauregard to face the Wild Bunch, for sport. Beauregard hurries off to the gold mine.

At the gold mine, he catches Sullivan loading sacks of gold powder. Sullivan, afraid Beauregard is about to avenge his brother, tells him that Red was responsible for Nevada’s death. He offers Beauregard Nevada’s share in the mine. Beauregard tells him he couldn’t care less about his despicable brother, and just takes two sacks, and $500 out of Sullivan’s wallet. He asks where he can catch a train to New Orleans, and then leaves.

A train is being loaded with bars of gold, under the protection of US troops. Nobody tricks the driver and manages to steal the train from under their noses. In the mean time, Beauregard has arrived at the train stop, an open spot in the middle of the desert, but the Wild Bunch turn up before the train and he chases away his horse to prepare making a last stand against them. Nobody turns up with the stolen train but refuses to let him on it, insisting he must fight. Beauregard smiles and returns to his shooting station. Then, as Nobody had anticipated, Beauregard suddenly remembers the mirrored conchas, and aims at them. One by one, they explode, blowing up most of the Wild Bunch. He escapes with Nobody on the train. However, Nobody tells Beauregard that he still has to die.

In New Orleans, Beauregard and Nobody finally face each other in a street duel, with lots of spectators and even a photographer. Nobody draws faster and Beauregard falls to the ground, apparently dead. A few days later, Nobody walks by the ship that was to take Beauregard to Europe. A sign with the text “Jack Beauregard, 1848 – 1899. Nobody was faster on the draw.” had been erected. However, it is revealed that Beauregard is in his cabin, awaiting departure. He and Nobody staged his death, allowing him to retire peacefully in Europe. Thinking Beauregard is actually dead, the Wild Bunch turn their attention to Nobody, who playfully eludes their attacks. Beauregard writes Nobody a fond farewell letter, reflecting on changing times and the gone romanticism of gun slinging.

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Movie Notes:

My Name is Nobody (Italian: ”Il mio nome è Nessuno”) also known as Gellert, is a 1973 Spaghetti Western comedy film. The film was directed by Tonino Valerii, and in some scenes, by Sergio Leone. It was written by Leone, Fulvio Morsella and Ernesto Gastaldi. Leone was also the uncredited executive producer. The cast includes Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, and Jean Martin.

The title of the movie alludes to the reply Odysseus gave when Polyphemus the Cyclops asked his name.

By the 1970s, the spaghetti Western had almost become a parody of itself. The serious westerns were primarily violent, low-budget films that were barely distributed outside of Italy. Meanwhile, slapstick parodies of the genre were becoming more popular. Sergio Leone and his team decided that if anyone was going to make the ultimate “joke” version of the genre, they should be the ones. Terence Hill was cast not only for box-office, but because he had in a short time become an icon for the genre. Hill had started the comedy spaghetti craze with the hugely successful movies They Call Me Trinity, and its sequel, Trinity Is Still My Name. With the casting of the classic Westerner Henry Fonda, the contrast between the old, and new, dying West was clear.

Inside jokes in the film include invocations of director Sam Peckinpah: his name on a tombstone, the villains being known as “the Wild Bunch”, and use of the duster coats which Peckinpah vigorously espoused on screen.

R.G. Armstrong (erroneously credited with middle initial “K”), Geoffrey Lewis, and Steve Kanaly also appear in the film, which was shot in New Mexico, New Orleans, and Leone’s favorite Spanish locales in Almeria. This is the second time Fonda worked with Leone, the former being Fonda’s first turn as a villain, in the classic Once Upon a Time in the West. Noted French actor Jean Martin plays the films main antagonist.

Leone directed several scenes of the film, including the opening scene and the final showdown with the Wild Bunch, but Tonino Valerii was the overall director. After the film’s release, it was promoted as a Sergio Leone film, much to the frustration of both men.

The musical score, by longtime Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone, is a very eclectic one and incorporates a large range of styles.

The main theme for the Nobody character presages many of his later non-Western scores. Morricone’s adaptation of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, which combines with the wailing voices from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, for the Wild Bunch’s theme is typical of the movies sense of humor. Traces of music from “Once Upon a Time in the West” can also be heard.

The main theme was later used for the 2004 BBC3 black comedy Nighty Night.

My Name is Nobody, was released under various names in Italy, America, France, and West Germany.

The film was Fonda’s final western, filmed in Mogollon, Acoma Pueblo and Gallup, New Mexico; Colorado; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Spain. Hill has said that the film remains his favorite amongst those in which he starred, largely because of Sergio Leone’s involvement.

A loose sequel, titled A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (also called Nobody’s the Greatest), was released in 1975.

Only Henry Fonda dubbed himself for the English-language version.

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