Monday, April 17, 2017

REBELS IN CANADA (1965) - Amando de Ossorio Makes a Western!

Over the past few years I've been slowly tracking down the few films by Spanish filmmaker (and creator of the Blind Dead films) Amando de Ossorio that I have yet to see. I finally watched one of his two westerns tonight and enjoyed it for it's slight pleasures. It's part of one of my favorite western sub-genres - films about the Canadian Mounted Police! It's a tiny subset of westerns but I love it so!

Very much a Euro-Western made before the release of Sergio Leone's worldwide hit A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) changed everything,  Ossorio's REBELS IN CANADA (1965) is cut from a very different cloth. Released under half a dozen titles including Three From Colorado, Massacre on the Hudson River and Canadian Wilderness it tells the story of Canadian trapper Victor DeFrois (George Martin) who, in a fit of vengeful anger at the English fur-dealer responsible for his brother's death, joins a rebel group fighting the Mounted Police. The rebels are trying to oust the British influence from the country in an attempt to control their fortunes and their future. To achieve this goal they kidnap the villainous businessman's very blonde daughter and stash her in the woods with Victor as her guard. Eventually these two star-crossed people fall in love (like ya do) and fight to find a way to live together in this terrible situation.

This was Amando de Ossorio's second feature film as director and it shows that he was ready for the job. He injects some interesting visuals into the story often finding some sharp ways of making scenes that could be dull come alive. The scene in which rebel leader Leo gives a speech to his assembled crew is juiced up by being done as one shot with the camera centered and rotating around to follow him as he circles the group. It's a clever 360  degree shot that keeps things interesting. Also, there is a fist/knife fight between Martin and a nasty prospector that is set in a very dangerous looking set of river rapids. This sequence looks quite realistic and I can't understand how the two actors didn't sustain serious injuries!

It was nice to see the lovely Diana Lorys in a solid role as Victor's old flame who seeks revenge on him for leaving her in lurch with his new blonde woman. She is good here giving off a sense of native menace and is convincing in her final battle with another female character. Lorys was famous at the time as a key cast member of Jess Franco's THE AWFUL DR. ORLOFF (1962) and would go on to star in Ossorio's FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969) and turn in a memorable performance in Aured's BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1974).

This is a well mounted (see what I did there?) film, colorful and vibrant enough even if it feels much more like a film made a decade before it's production. It's a fun little western programmer that wouldn't have felt out of place as a Saturday matinee for the kiddies and I suspect that is what it was meant to be. It's an OK film with some neat moments and that's about all. If you like the Hollywood westerns of the 1950's you might enjoy this one but you'll have to track down the fan-subtitled version I watched as I don't know of an English language version.

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