A Stranger in Town
Cast & Crew
The Stranger, a wandering adventurer, rides into a Mexican village ruled by the bandit Aguila. As The Stranger looks on, Aguila captures and shoots a detachment of Mexican soldiers sent to receive a shipment of U. S. gold and dresses his outlaws in the dead soldiers' uniforms to await the arrival of the U. S. troops bringing the gold. Posing as a U. S. Army captain, The Stranger offers his assistance to Aguila in exchange for a promise of half the gold, but the bandit reneges on the agreement once the troops have departed. The Stranger escapes with two bags of gold and takes refuge with Cica, a young widow whose husband was killed by Aguila. To save Cica and her baby, The Stranger gives up the gold and flees when the house is besieged by Aguila, but the bandit abducts Cica. The Stranger is captured as he attempts to recover the gold, and he is brutally beaten by Aguila and his men. Aguila's sadistic mistress, Maruka, assumes charge of his torture, but he escapes with Cica and the gold. Aguila follows The Stranger to Cica's house, and a final gun battle ensues. The Stranger guns down the bandits one by one and then kills Aguila, who is armed with a machine gun. The American troops return to recover the gold, but The Stranger is permitted to keep half the loot as a reward.
Allen V. Klein
A Stranger in Town
A Stranger in Town (1966), whose original Italian title translates as A Dollar Between the Teeth, is a little-seen example of the popular spaghetti Western genre, as it has become known in the U.S. One of the singular strengths of Italian cinema during this period was its ability to penetrate foreign markets, including America, with popular genres such as the "peplum" (the sword-and-sandal epic), horror, and of course, the spaghetti Western. From the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, the peak period of the Italian Western, some 400 were produced. Sub-categories of the diverse genre included: operatic epics, such as the Sergio Leone films; "picaresque" films (i.e., following the adventures of a wily rogue character such as the Ringo cycle); politically themed Westerns; and overt comedies such as the Trinity series. A large number of spaghetti Westerns were international co-productions, filmed in foreign locations such as Spain. The genre often attracted established directors, writers and actors. Bernardo Bertolucci, for example, was a writer for Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (1969). Other films featured such talents as Yul Brenner, Orson Welles and Klaus Kinski.
Like a number of actors in Spaghetti Westerns, Tony Anthony was a Hollywood refugee. Born in 1937 in Clarksburg, West Virginia, he made three obscure films in Hollywood--Force of Impulse (1961), Pity Me Not (1960) and Without Each Other (1962)--before heading off to Italy for greener pastures, not unlike compadres Clint Eastwood and Cameron Mitchell. The move paid off, as Anthony landed a role in Lina Wertmuller's Let's Talk About Men (1965). Next followed the Stranger films, the first being A Stranger in Town. Expanding his range of skills, Anthony wrote the story for the sequel, The Stranger Returns (1968). The other two entries in the series, also starring Anthony, are The Stranger in Japan (1969), also known as The Silent Stranger, and Get Mean (1975). All were directed by Vance Lewis (Luigi Vanzi), except for Get Mean, which was directed by Ferdinando Baldi. Anthony achieved renewed notoriety in the 1980s with the 3-D Western Comin' at Ya! (1981) and 3-D Indiana Jones-inspired actioner The Treasure of the Four Crowns (1982), both directed by Baldi. In the 1990s he would try his luck as a producer, working on such projects as the spy-caper parody Honeymoon Academy (1990) and most recently, the TV movie Dollar for the Dead (1998), an homage to the Spaghetti Western starring Emilio Estevez.
Director Luigi Vanzi started out as an assistant to Michelangelo Antonioni on Le Amiche (The Girlfriends, 1955) and Il Grido (The Outcry, 1957). Like many Italian genre directors, Vanzi adopted English pseudonyms in order to appeal to the lucrative English-language market: for the Stranger series, he became "Vance Lewis". For other projects such as Seven in Thebes (1964) and The Secret of the Silver Soldiers (1970), he became "Roy Ferguson". A Stranger in Town was first released in the U.S. in 1968 for Metro by Allen Klein, who would later make a small fortune distributing the infamous midnight classic, the psychedelic western El Topo (1971), directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
Although not generally taken seriously by critics at the time, minor Spaghetti Westerns such as A Stranger in Town have maintained a steady cult following over the years, thanks to their campy English dubbing, visceral thrills (most notably, sadistic violence) and mannered visual style. Variety, while not overly complimentary about Vanzi's direction--"[It] could set westerns back a generation..."--praised Masciocchi's cinematography.
Director: Vance Lewis (Luigi Vanzi)
Producers: Carlo Infascelli, Allen Klein
Screenplay: Giuseppe Mangione, Warren Garfield
Cinematography: Marcello Masciocchi
Editing: Maurizio Lucidi
Music: Benedetto Ghiglia
Art Direction: Carmelo Patrono
Cast: Tony Anthony (The Stranger), Frank Wolff (Aguila), Gia Sandri (Maruka), Raf Baldassarre (Ivan Scratuglia), Jolanda Modio (Cica).
by James Steffen
A Stranger in Town
Rome opening: June 1967 as Un dollaro tra i denti; running time: 90 min. The following are credited under pseudonyms: Luigi Vanzi (Vance Lewis), Giuseppe Mangione (Jone Mang), and Ivan Scratuglia (Ivan Scratt).