LOS AMIGOS or DEAF SMITH AND JOHNNY EARS as it was re-titled in the UK, is an Italian western which starred Anthony Quinn and Franco Nero. Two friends have a strong bond Quinn’s character being a deaf mute Erastus Deaf Smith who has lots of experience and Nero’s character Johnny Ears being something of a amateur and a hot head full of ambition. The movie directed by Paolo Cavara also featured Pamela Tiffin as the storylines love interest and the object of Nero’s characters affections. Set in the early nineteenth century we see the two comrades heading for Austin in Texas just after the republic won independence from its Mexican occupiers. The future of the republic however is in jeopardy because Foreign powers are attempting to cause unrest and ultimately intervene and gain a foothold in the area. The President Sam Houston sends the two friends as agents to try and infiltrate the ranks of one of these factions headed by a general Morton, but news of their coming reaches the rebels who are then on the look out for a deaf mute, it then becomes Nero’s job to conceal his friends handicap and at the same time act as his ears and voice. They arrive at their destination to find that their contact Colonel McDonald and his family have been brutally murdered, wiped out and silenced for good by Morton’s men. The movie was entertaining and a solid addition to the genre of the Spaghetti western, although it did have within it a number of influences from the Hollywood western. The score was by Danielle Patucchi who produced a soundtrack that was itself leaned a little more towards Hollywood than Cinecitta, the composer not really utilising any of the established stock sounds of the Italian produced western within his score (ie whistles, rifle butts cracking, shouts, screams or solo trumpet performances), he did however include two vocals both of which are memorable and catchy. THE BALLAD OF DEAF AND EARS opens the film with a jaws harp pinging that ushers in vocals courtesy of Ann Collin backed by IL CANTORI MODERNI, Collin also provided the lyrics to this and the second song on the score track number five, EVEN IF YOUR NOT THE FIRST ONE, which is a love song of sorts easy on the ear and delightfully haunting again performed by Collin and is heard over a scene with Nero and Tiffin. The second vocal is given a fully orchestral work out on track number two of the compact disc, PRIMO INCONTRO is for me one of the highlights of Patucchi’s score it being one of the tracks that is closest to the style of the spaghetti western that is present having elements of Morricone’s THEY CALL ME NOBODY or to a degree WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS within its framework. Track number three is a dramatic and fast paced version of the opening song, fully orchestral with the emphasise on brass, fast strumming guitars and racing percussion all of which create an exhilarating and action packed composition.
Track four is a straight orchestral version of the opening song, guitar taking the lead as easy going percussion creates a suitable backing track the composer then introducing underlying strings that plays a counter melody to the central theme augmenting and complimenting it, the cue I feel has a kind of folk sound to it, and at times is reminiscent of the style employed by Guido and Maurizio De Angelis. Track number six, NEL BUIO is an excellent piece that is filled with tension and apprehension, no real thematic properties are present here but the composer fashions a highly effective piece of tense nervous and slightly atonal music to accompany this section of the storyline.
Track number seven, IL PUNTO PIU ALTO is another arrangement of THE BALLAD OF DEAF AND EARS, this time given a slightly harder edge via its leaning towards a martial sound created by snare drums that provide quite a rigid backing for the composition. Track number eight, is a wonderfully laid back arrangement of EVEN IF YOUR NOT THE FIRST ONE, complete with tantalising strings and luscious woods that are enhanced by subdued percussion and laced with harpsichord flourishes and further supported by emotive piano. The final cue on the compact disc is ADDIO A DEAF, a plaintive and emotional sounding version of the opening cue, performed on guitar and supported by woods and underlying strings, harmonica too is introduced giving the cue an even more melancholy sound, again I was reminded of the style of De Angelis whilst listening to this. Overall this is a very good soundtrack and a great listening experience, one complaint, Not long enough, but this was the problem with the original CAM SOUNDTRACK ENCYCLOPEDIA series, most releases were under forty minutes and this is no exception with a duration of just 27 mins. However it still has my recommendation, your collection will be lacking without it.