Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

See "Sabata"? Yul Be Sorry

Cleveland Press October 13, 1971

"Sabata" was a gimmicky Italian western of about a year back with Lee Van Cleef in the title role. "Adios, Sabata" is a sequel with Yul Brynner substituting for Lee Van Cleef.

This could indicate that (a) Yul Brynner has come down in the world, or (b) that "Adios, Sabata" is a superior movie.

Except that (a) Brynner's roles haven't been much lately so how could he do worse? and (b) anything could be superior to the original, anything that is except the sequel.

So maybe the only reason for another is that it provides lots and lots of work for stuntmen who keep getting killed by the hundreds in the movie -- shot, stabbed, blown up and generally last seen falling off horses or toppling off buildings.

Sabata is a cool killer who uses a sawed-off rifle with big clips of ammunition with a cigar in place of the last cartridge. This allows him to nonchalantly light up after wiping out half the population in sight.

He also has another handy weapon -- a saddlebag full of nitroglycerine.

Now assuming you can gallop around the countryside with a large supply (or even a small supply) of nitro you have a handy weapon of truly lethal quality. It allows you to destroy whole armies at a toss of a tiny bottle which is what Sabata does.

Sabata also plays Schubert on a barroom piano before and after killing a fellow which would be a nice touch if the piano were in tune.

Sabata is mixed up in a Mexican revolution and the stealing of a gold shipment. The villains are either soldiers in fancy white uniforms or nasty civilian types in Edwardian jackets and fancy hats.

Sabata's allies include an American (Dean Reed) who smiles stupidly most of the time, a fellow who hurls steel balls with deadly accuracy after first dropping them into cups in the tops of his boots, and an Indian who somersaults across the countryside.

Brynner smiles scornfully most of the time which may be part of the characterization or may indicate how he feels about the whole movie.