MY NAME IS NOBODY by Tonini Valerii and Sergio Leone
I first saw this film in 1973 when I was nine years old. I saw it only once, but the movie stuck in my head like glue. I remembered every detail, including the catchy whistling tune that so perfectly encapsulated the tone of the film.
For decades after I found myself telling anyone who would listen about this awesome Italian western and then one day, in 2013, forty years later, I saw a copy for sale on Amazon. I snatched it up and took it to work to show a bunch of co-workers one scene that had so captured my attention I just had to show someone.
When it came down to showing the movie I was worried that my nine year old self might have seen things differently than my 49 year old self. I was worried the film would stink and I would look like a fool for recommending it.
I shouldn’t have worried. Not only was the film great, it had somehow gotten even greater over the years. My knowledge of film now informed me as I watched what I can only describe as a masterfully shot movie. If you get a chance, watch the bar scene where the character, Nobody, is drinking and shooting drinking glasses. It is perfect on nearly every level. The choreography of the main characters, the secondary characters and the background characters is beautiful. The performances are hilarious, charming, genuine and just a joy to watch. Each character is so clear and conflict and tension build so nicely. Every frame of that sequence is gorgeous to look at. I just love that scene so much. It makes me happy.
The film mixes elements of serious westerns with the silliness of the Italian westerns and belies a reverence for both. Henry Fonda is perfectly cast as the aging gunslinger Jack Beauregard, and Terrence Hill, with his electric blue eyes and gosh, golly boyish charm, is immediately likeable as the upstart gunslinger who wants to see his aging idol go out in a blaze of glory so that he can take his place as the fastest gunslinger alive. Nobody is as much of an anachronism as Jack Beauregard. Nobody may get his wish in the end, but really, who will care? The west is changing and the era of the gunslinger is drawing to an end (pun intended).Gunslingers are fast becoming irrelevant.
It doesn’t matter, though. It is the journey that counts. The journey is where Nobody and jack build memories. Where they bond and become friends, compadres, amigos and legend, both. When Nobody achieves his goal and Jack achieves legendary status, that is icing on the cake, and that is how the audience sees it. Mission accomplished. Who cares about the future? Nobody clearly lives for the past and the present. He wants the history books to reflect his vision of the world and they will. Jack Beauregard gets to live out his retirement in peace and anonymity while Nobody will enjoy his brief moment in the sun before the gunslinger era ends for good.
My Name Is Nobody manages to be serious and funny at the same time and in spite of the sped up sequences, it never slides into the, “Oh, come on!” zone. It remains firmly in the, “That is AWESOME!” zone the entire film. At least in my opinion. But don’t take my word for it. Look it up!