Welcome to the fifteenth week of Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits. This week’s actor…
Icons aren’t allowed many buried credits. In addition to being a prolific singer, David Bowie was in more movies than most people realize. Best known for Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth, this week has been planned since the column’s conception, not because people wouldn’t recognize some of the titles, but because watching Bowie’s films this week is the only thing I can do.
January 8th should’ve been David Bowie’s 70th birthday. January 10th will be the first anniversary of his death.
Using “I” in relation to him always feels like an overstep. Who am I to talk about how much he, and his music, meant to me, when the world is covered with people who felt understood listening to his lyrics? But he did mean a lot. A huge lot. And if this tribute doesn’t measure up to that significance, I will say that what a scary year it’s been without David Bowie on this planet.
Gunslinger’s Revenge (1998)
Directed by Giovanni Veronesi
Screenplay by Leonardo Pieraccioni and Giovanni Veronesi
Based on a Novel by Vincenzo Pardini
Gunslinger’s Revenge was a title change for America that promised open violence and dirt covered cowboys. Il mio West [My West], the film’s Italian title, is much more along the lines of what you’ll get: a watered down Western that wants to push pacifism but makes the gunless Doc (Leonardo Pieraccioni) and his reformed dad, Johnny Lowen (Harvey Keitel), insufferable.
The problem is how the movie oversimplifies what makes a hero to having morals. Doc’s stance on non-violence is unbending. Duel or hunt, he won’t touch a gun and this is noble. It’s Doc, not his philosophy, that’s exasperating. Pieraccioni always sounds like he’s reading his lines loud, not saying them. His curly hair refuses to be mussed. He repeats himself—constantly—and, where this would often be the fault of a script, Pieraccioni co-wrote the screenplay. Without so much as a change of inflection in his voice, you’ll feel like you’re being knocked over the head when he starts exclaiming about “psychopaths.”
Doc’s son, Jeremiah (the very cute Yudii Mercredi) gets away with some of these lines but Pieraccioni can’t, and you know you’re in trouble when Harvey Keitel looks the part but doesn’t belong. Forced to express his character’s every motivation (because abandoning fathers are always so forthcoming) there’s no mystery and no reason to give credence to his rep as a gunslinger.
The film isn’t trying to make pacifism look foolish. That’s the real kicker. There is no intentional side cutting at play. The film believes its angelic propaganda of Doc, sleeping in a rocking chair, like he’s role model of the year. What the writers either ignore, or don’t notice, is how much they are to blame for their admiration failing to register.
Take away personal opinion and you still have all the films major problems being solved by violence, not peace. Doesn’t matter that Doc and Johnny stick to their guns (or should I say, stick to not having guns). A family member gets kidnapped and they’re not the ones who rescue him. Those two numbskulls are arguing in the front yard when Doc’s wife, Pearl (Sandrine Holt), heads out the back, with a knife between her teeth. Taking action without needing permission, right or wrong it’s a strong move that no one ever talks about. For doing nothing, the men are celebrated.
But where does David Bowie fit in? Making his entrance in a cloud of smoke, with a lady cowboy dressed in black leather prepped to take his picture, Bowie is Johnny’s rival, Jack Sikora. For some reason ringing bells and wearing tinted John Lennon glasses from the future, as characters go Jack is blander than should be possible. The attempt at an accent is worse than if they’d let him be British. His “showdown” (and the quotes are necessary) with Johnny is atrocious for its flatness.
Verdict: Better Left Buried
There is a movie where David Bowie gets to be the coolest cowboy to ever meet the West. The only person who gets to be cool in the Gunslinger’s Revenge is Pearl.
Check back tomorrow for a film where David Bowie lives forever.