Tuesday, March 6, 2012



Starring Dean Reed, Annabella Incontrera, Alberto de Mendoza and Salvatore Borghese. Directed by Ferdinando Baldi.

I've watched hundreds and hundreds of European or Italo action films, whether they are Swashbucklers or the Sword & Sandal kind. They all pretty much follow the same formula (Fusto!) and few stand-out for being different. This is not a criticism of the genre as it's almost stands as a quality but when a film does come  along and stands out for being, well, different it's cool. Not that THE COSSAIRS is really that much different than  the usual stuff made by Italians back then. In fact it's pure formula, with a storyline so weak or unimportant that it barely holds the film together or the viewer's attention.

What does stand-out is the way the flimsy storyline is handled. You know the song by Bananarama: It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it and that's what gets results. I have to say that it's one of the most sprightly directed films I've seen in a while. Quick edits, non-stop action, excellent sword fights, all wrapped up in spirited music. In fact the thing that really stands out from THE CORSAIRS is the theme of the unruly gang: every time we see them marching on screen their theme is played. Some might hate it but I thought it was funny.

What's the story? Alan Drake (Dean Reed) and his motley crew are shipwrecked on a small Caribbean island ruled by  Her Highness Isabella who hire the pirates to find some treasure which was stolen by some other pirates.

Director Fernando Baldi directed several classic PEPLUM films, like THE SON OF CLEOPATRA and directed even more Spaghetti Westerns. While watching THE CORSAIRS, the Spaghetti Western influence is quite obvious. 

Remarkably, Dean Reed, a legend in some circles (with a crazy legendary life), is  good in the role and his sword fighting is credible. This aspect sorta surprised me as it's the last thing I expected to see from the "Commie" rocker. Like so many American-born actors starring in Italian films (Clint Eastwood, John Drew Barrymore, Steve Reeves, etc…) Dean's good looks were displayed unabashedly. With his thick set of hair, deep tan and vivid blue eyes, Dean looked like Terence Hill's brother. Italians really had a specific look for actors and this film doesn't miss a beat.

The main actress is the beautiful Annabella Incontrera, a veteran of the genre, Annabella was last seen in GOLIATH & THE VAMPIRES (1963) playing Magda, the unfortunate girl who is killed by Kobrak. Annabella is the film's weakest link. Nothing against Annabella but she looked a bit too old, in 1971 (or was made to look too old), for being the film's love interest. Even though she wasn't even 30 years old when she made the film (according to IMDb) she looked more like she was pushing 40, certainly as the blonde Janita. Annabella has a dual role of sorts and it can be summed up as this: evil Isabella = black hair; good Janita = blonde.

The supporting cast is solid, certainly thanks to the agile acrobatics of the ever colourful Salvatore Borghese, who steals the show whenever he's on screen. Salvatore is another PEPLUM veteran with countless films under his belt including the fun TEN GLADIATORS films. 

Is THE COSAIRS a great film? Not really but thanks to the fast paced action I was entertained by it and, well, in the end that's what count really. A pleasant surprise.

I uploaded a preview of the film at my With FIRE & SWORD channel.

6 out of 10

No comments: