The Italian western genre was a popular one and a collection of movies that left their mark on cinema, the influences of the Italian made westerns are far reaching and are still today utilised in certain scenarios. Its an odd thing that even younger cinema goers that maybe have not seen an Italian made western still get the parody of camera work or a mock gunfight scene when it is used in a contemporary movie. The music too has also had much influence of film scoring in general, and even today composers will try to emulate or imitate the sound of the spaghetti western to create certain emotions and moods. The quirky and innovative style of Italian western scores I think will never go away, it will remain forever in the minds of cinema goers old and new. There were many western produced in Italy from the early 1960.s through to the 1980’s some good some bad and some very ugly. The majority of the scores for these spaghetti sagebrush sagas have now been released but it’s surprising that there are still a fistful that remain unreleased, one such score is by a composer who I think was involved with around 99 percent of the scores on Italian westerns, not always as a composer, but sometimes as a whistler, a guitarist and a choir master and vocalist.
Alessandro Alessandroni was the whistler on Morricone’s Dollar Trilogy and many other scores by the Maestro, he was also the leader of the famed Il Cantori Moderni, who performed on so many scores in Italy (not just westerns) that it is impossible to make mention of all of them. Alessandro was also a gifted composer in his own right a Maestro, who scored many movies. One western that he was involved with was El Puro, ( La Taglia E Tua ….L’Uomo L’Ammazzo Io) (1969), which has never received an original score release, yes there was a re-recording released which featured Alessandroni many years ago which contained an extended suite of music from the movie, but the original session recordings have never been issued.
The central theme is very much in the style of A Fistful Of Dollars with underlying influences taken from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, as in the opening drum beat, with the core theme being whistled flawlessly by the composer and accompanied by harmonica possibly played by Franco De Gemini, and organ maybe played by Bruno Nicolai, with the added support of a galloping percussion that is bolstered by Il Cantori Moderni, c and interspersed by barking male voices and electric guitar that are all underlined and tied together with strings. In fact, I suppose that one could refer to this as text-book Spaghetti western. The theme which is primarily a five-note motif is repeated throughout the score either performed in whistling form or given a rendition on electric guitar. There is also a secondary theme in the form of a lilting and romantic sounding Spanish guitar solo that is enhanced with subdued sounding organ both this and the core theme for the soundtrack make appearances throughout in various arrangements, the core theme being given a slower tempo at times and performed by harmonica and aided by a scattering of brass.
Directed by Edoardo Mulargia, El Puro, starred genre stalwart Robert Woods, his character is something of a down and out at the beginning of the movie, he is a drunk and hiding away in a small border village scared of his own shadow and portraying himself as an individual that fears everything even his own shadow. What we learn as the movie’s plot opens up is that in fact the Woods character is a famous gunslinger who is hiding away from the many would be gunfighters that want to make a name for themselves by killing him. So, he hides away in a perpetual state of intoxication in the hope that it will shield him from being found. His only support and compassion coming from a saloon girl Rosie who has recognised him, she decides to help him and takes him in to get him back to health in the hope that they can make a life together. Unbeknown to Rosie and El Puro a sadistic gang leader Gypsy portrayed by Marco Fiorini under the alias of Ashburn Hamilton jnr, who has recently escaped prison arrives in the village with his band of cutthroats looking for El Puro not knowing how low he has sunk. Gypsy is determined to find him and kill him for his own pleasure and collect the 1.000 dollar reward that is still on his head. It is here that we can possibly make comparisons with El Puro and For A Few Dollars More, as Gypsy is in many ways like El Indio the villain of the Leone movie.
Rosie is killed by Gypsy and his gang, and it is now time for El Puro to return to avenge her. It’s not a classic Spaghetti western but it certainly has some interesting twists and turns and there is no doubt it is an entertaining example within the genre. Alessandroni’s style is distinctive with the instantly recognisable whistle being his trademark sound. He is a gifted guitar player and performed Sitar, piano and mandolin on many occasions and provided vocals on so many soundtracks it is difficult to comprehend this Maestro’s boundless contributions to the art of film music. El Puro is crying out for an official soundtrack release, it is a score that is on a par with many others within the genre, including the works of Morricone, Nicolai, Cipriani, Fidenco, and De Masi.