My Name is Pecos Blu-ray Review
Blu-ray Release: July 27, 2021 (with the Vengeance Trails set)
Audio: Italian and English LPCM 1.0 Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Run Time: 85:10
Director: Maurizio Lucidi
Note: This Blu-ray is currently only available as part of Arrow’s Vengeance Trails four movie set, which also includes Massacre Time (Italian: Le colt cantarono la morte e fu... tempo di massacro; aka: The Brute and the Beast, 1966), Bandidos (Italian: Crepa tu... che vivo, 1967), and And God Said to Cain (Italian: E Dio disse a Caino…, 1970).
A Mexican gunslinger named Pecos Martinez (Robert Woods) returns to Houston to settle a long-standing score against the racist gang boss who wiped out his entire family. (From Arrow’s official synopsis)
There’s an amusing irony in the fact that the Italian filmmakers who desperately tried to cash-in on the popularity of Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood’s The Man with No Name did so with a bevy of specifically named title characters. Among the name-brand heroes – Django, Ringo, Sabata, Sartana – were nominally successful figures, like Johnny Yuma, Arizona Colt, and Mallory. The same year audiences were introduced to Django (1966), they were introduced to Pecos Martinez via Maurizio Lucidi’s My Name is Pecos (Italian: Due once di piombo).
In his book, Once Upon a Time in the Italian West (I.B. Tauris, 2006), author Howard Hughes refers to My Name is Pecos as a “rough remake” of the second official Ringo movie, Duccio Tessari’s The Return of Ringo (Italian: Il ritorno di Ringo, 1965). His point is valid, but it probably speaks less to Lucidi and screenwriter Adriano Bolzoni ripping off Tessari’s movie and more to the fact that about 70% of Euro-westerns recycle the same four or five basic plots. That said, My Name is Pecos is a case of defaulting to formula, rather than building off of it, and giving its audience more of what they already loved, instead of challenging them or pushing boundaries. Bolzoni was one of many credited writers on Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (Italian: Per un pugno di dollari, 1964), as well as lesser Sergio Corbucci westerns Minnesota Clay (1964) and Johnny Oro (aka: Ringo and His Golden Gun, 1966), and, while his plot here is similar to Return of Ringo, his greater crime (assuming we’re keeping track) is the number of times he lifts tiny bits from A Fistful of Dollars. Amusingly, he recycled some of his own original ideas for Carlo Lizzani’s Requiescant (aka: Kill and Pray and Let Them Rest, 1967) a year later.
Lucidi was not a looming figure in Italian genre film, but he worked steadily through the ranks and fads over the decades. From what I’ve seen of his filmography, My Name is Pecos is a fair representation of his abilities. His action scenes aren’t the greatest (the stunts are surprisingly awkward – perhaps an indication of the film’s limited budget), but he and cinematographer Franco Villa keep the camera gliding and fill the frame in interesting ways that make it easy to forgive how often he’s directly imitating Leone. He also attempts to live up to the new standard of brutality set by Corbucci with Django, though what’s more interesting is that he and Bolzoni also seemed to have picked up on the increasingly political vibe of the hit spaghetti westerns released that year (My Name is Pecos was released the final month of 1966, just as the entire genre was shifting gears). Like Corbucci’s film, My Name is Pecos is rarely overtly political – Mexican revolutionaries aren’t acting as stand-ins for Italian Socialists, nor is the Civil War acting as an analogue for Italy’s own, then-current North/South divide – but is overtly anti-racist, which would become the norm going forward, even for low-budget, mediocre Italian westerns.
Lucidi, Bolzoni, and star Robert Woods reunited for an official sequel called Pecos Cleans Up (Italian: Pecos è qui: prega e muori, 1967), after which he made two more B-tier westerns – Halleluja for Django (Italian: La più grande rapina del West, 1967) and It Can Be Done, Amigo (Italian: Si può fare... amigo, 1971) – and a decent giallo entitled The Designated Victim (Italian: La vittima designata, 1971), before finding greater success in poliziotteschi and porn. He was also the initial director hired to make Nosferatu in Venice (Italian: Nosferatu a Venezia, 1988), but was chased off by star/co-director Klaus Kinski after only a few days.
My Name is Pecos, like many Italian westerns, has an iffy copyright history and is sorta a public domain film. This means that it is somewhat easy to find on US DVD, but, in almost every case, the transfer is non-anamorphic and fuzzy. Indie label Wild East Productions even managed to put together a respectable, Blu-ray/DVD combo pack double-feature with Pecos Cleans Up, though that is entirely out-of-print. For this new in-print Blu-ray from Arrow Video, the original 35mm camera negatives were scanned in 2K and restored by L'Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy, then additional grading was done at R3Store Studios, London. All of the films in the Vengeance Trails set look similar, but I think Massacre Time and My Name is Pecos are the two that match the most. Both feature nice details that improve during higher contrast scenes, both have mostly accurate film grain with just a hint of noise, and the two films even have similar color palettes – though I suppose that’s down to most westerns having similar color palettes. Still, I’ve seen plenty of other Italian remasters that skew either too yellow or too red, so the consistently neutral tones and thick blacks are a big plus.
My Name is Pecos comes fitted with original Italian and English dub options, each presented in uncompressed LPCM 1.0 mono. As a reminder, the Italian westerns were shot without synced sound, often with international casts who are speaking multiple languages on-set. All language tracks are dubbed and the choice as to which dub to listen to can change from film to film and is largely one of personal taste. This is a textbook example of the multilingual cast in effect. Switching between the tracks, you can see the lip-sync matching some actors in Italian, some in English, and others in neither. Sound-wise, the Italian track is a bit tighter with stronger sound effects, but the English dub has better performances and louder music. Composer Lallo Gori splits the difference between an old-fashioned Hollywood western (especially the kind you’d hear from a television series) and Ennio Morricone-inspired guitar tracks to make a decent score, though it is memorable for all the wrong reasons. The main title theme, “The Ballad of Pecos” is essentially a recreation of The Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.” One assumes there wasn’t a lawsuit, because The Animals couldn’t claim copyright on account of the song’s folk history and fact that they didn’t originate the arrangement. Or they never heard of the film. Or they just didn’t care.
Commentary with star Robert Woods, moderated by author/journalists/filmmaker C. Courtney Joyner (also the screenwriter of From a Whisper to a Scream , Prison , and Doctor Mordrid )) – Joyner does a great job interviewing Woods here, especially considering how often the discussion remains screen-specific. For his part, Woods, who was about 84 at the time of recording, conjures extensive memories of his career and the making of My Name is Pecos. Between the two of them, there’s almost zero downtime the entire track.
A Giant in the West (21:05, HD) A brand new interview with actor and future screenwriter Luigi Montefiori, aka: George Eastman. Eastman appears here, in his first credited role, as one of the heavies. Well, given his stature, the heaviest of the heavies. With a dog named Billy on his lap, he recalls filming My Name is Pecos, the creation of his pseudonym, his relationship with Lucidi, his stature causing him to miss out on lead roles throughout his career, and more.
Indecent Proposal (18:36, HD) – Actress Lucia Modugno talks about a bit part in Corbucci’s Navajo Joe (1966), before moving on to My Name is Pecos and Norman J. Warren’s Her Own Private Hell. Lucidi apparently treated her like crap after she turned down his unwanted advances.
Pecos Kills (19:52, HD) – A new featurette with historian/author Fabio Melelli that includes an archival interview with cinematographer Franco Villa. Melelli discusses Lucidi’s career as an editor and director, the speed in which My Name is Pecos was completed, the ways the film rises above its formula, Villa’s work, and the cast’s larger careers. Villa also discusses the speed of shooting, the business of making the movie, and technical aspects of the behind-the-scenes process.
German promotional gallery
The images on this page are taken from the BD and sized for the page. Larger versions can be viewed by clicking the images. Note that there will be some JPG compression.