Monday, 16 February 2015

Minnesota Clay (1964)

Minnesota clay is a spaghetti western from 1962 directed by Sergio Corbucci

The plot is a simple one, an ex gunslinger is imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. He escapes by taking the prison doctor hostage and runs to Mexico to seek revenge on the man who withheld evidence that proved that he was innocent.

The plot line itself is one that can be easily identified as a western, The hero must get back his honour by revenging the wrongs that had been placed upon him. He is also now a fugitive of the law which creates a 'him against the world' vibe to the film. This is definitely they case later on in the film when Clay must overcome the threat of both Fox and the Mexican bandits trying to kill him.

Clay enters the town that he was once sheriff of. He finds that the man he believes that framed him. Fox is hired by the town to protect them from the Mexican bandits that are raiding the town. Fox charges a high 'protection tax' on the towns people  with little reward as the raids are becoming more frequent, which creates tension between them and him.

The film is full of many different iconic Western scenes. early in the film Clay helps a young lady who is being attacked while riding a cart. This is something that was very common in westerns at the time as it created a scene that had both movement and action, something that was very different to a fight scene in a bar or a street that may be very static.

The film also possesses a emotional tone to it. Clay returns to his old town to find that his daughter is in custody of  his best friends after the death of his wife. There is  a very moving scene where Clay is shown a picture of his later wife and he weeps. As Clay is an ageing gunslinger he has an awful lot of health issues but the one that is the worst is his sight. He becomes blind later in the film which adds another dimension to his character. He must over come many obstacles to again his revenge or even his redemption.

The film clearly has classic western scenery. A mixture of grassy plains, dusty towns, rocky mountains and blue lakes are seen through the film. However the director never really focuses on them. He doesn't rely on the terrain of the west to give the 'image' of the west but rather relies on his story and character development.

The endings sees a shoot out between Clay and Fox where both men are killed. The final scene sees Clay lying on the floor of the town with his daughter Nancy running towards him. Although the scene is a simple one, it has great emotional value. Clay has achieved what he wanted but has also achieved something much greater, redemption.

Overall I would say that Minnesota Clay is a good western film. It is full of excitement and has a very strong emotional tone to it that many B rated westerns wouldn't have had.

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