Morricone, Ennio (b. 1928)
A Pistol for Ringo [Una pistola per Ringo] (1965)
“For A Pistol for Ringo, Morricone reverted to a more traditional approach to scoring westerns. Having revolutionized the genre with Fistful, he realized that for Tessari’s film to be successful, he must reinforce the director’s references to American westerns. The most obvious example of this is the title song, ‘Angel Face,’ performed by Maurizio Graf, with lyrics by Gino Paoli. Paoli was a well-known songwriter who sometimes crooned his own compositions, including ‘Sapore Di Sale’ from Il Successo (1964). [www.imdb.com lists this as 1963, a drama with music by Morricone.] He had an affair with Stefania Sandrelli, but when they split up Paoli tried to shoot himself and miraculously survived. Like most of Morricone’s songs in spaghetti westerns, ‘Angel Face’ is sung in English (even in the Italian print), but the lyrics are largely unintelligible—sounding akin to an American ballad, but making no logical sense. Later examples by Morricone and others considerably improved on this style and managed an effective synthesis of spaghetti-western-style music and descriptive, appropriate lyrics. Graf’s ‘Find a Man’ (co-written by Alessandroni) from Enzo Castellari’s Johnny Hamlet (1968) went beyond the usual banal cowboy-song ethics and achieved something like frontier poetry: ‘If a dreamer grows wise when he opens his eyes. Shadows in a dream will always seem more real than all men’s lies. Find a man who’s true at heart and love him till he dies.’ These phonetic title-songs epitomize the Italian westerns’ attitude to authenticity. If it looks or sounds right, then it must be authentic, even if, after closer inspection, it is only a rough approximation of the genuine American article.
“The tune to ‘Angle Face’ is a western pop song, incorporating a simple acoustic guitar riff, the Alessandroni choir (intoning ‘This was Angel Face’), a rattling drum-kit, syncopated strings and a chiming electric-guitar solo. The accompanying lyrics include the phrase: ‘Ringo had an Angel Face, but whenever Ringo loved, Ringo fought.’ A better-known instrumental version of this tune appears on many of Morricone’s compilation albums, usually under the title ‘A Gun for Ringo,’ with an electric guitar and strings playing the vocal line. Ruby even plays a version of the theme on the piano. But it is the title sequence, cut to the vocal version, that is most memorable. Under the credits we see the bandit gang splashing across the Rio Grande as the upbeat theme brings the picturesque sequence to life. The ‘Ringo’ songs are Morricone’s best attempts at western ballads in the American tradition because they capture the mood of Tessari’s films so well.
“Morricone gives the hero a brief signature theme on an oboe or trumpet, like in Fistful, while ominous strings tell us that Sancho and his men are up to no good in Quemado. Morricone adds tension, an element of time running out, by using a banjo or plucked strings playing a two-note ‘tick-tock’ effect. Another piece, used on Christmas morning as the bandits prepare to leave, is almost identical to the shootout music from Fistful, with a Spanish guitar and choir backing a trumpet solo (again provided by Michele Lacerenza). Morricone also uses visible sound. A honky-tonk band plays ‘Silent Night,’ while the bandits prefer the lazy mariachi trumpet of ‘Bamba Bambina.’ This fiesta music reinforces the contrast between the Gringos and Mexicans. The aristocrats are associated with classical compositions, as in the scene where Major Clyde plays a waltz on his gramophone, which he bought from ‘a Mr. Edison.’” 1
|Una pistola per Ringo (Instrumental)|
From The Ennio Morricone Anthology: A Fistful of Film Music
|Death of Dolores|
|Sounding Attack and Transition|
After Ringo, aka Angel Face, kills the villain Sancho he rides off into the sunset.
1 Howard Hughes, Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: The Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns (London; New York: I. B. Tauris, 2004), 26–27.