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Featured DVD Review: Doc West

September 4th, 2010

Doc West - Buy from Amazon

Terrance Hill made a name for himself starring in a number of Spaghetti Western Comedies in the early 1970s. Films like My Name Is Trinity and My Name Is Nobody helped build a career, but he never quite had the breakout success, at least not Stateside. He's still making movies and staring in TV shows back in his native Italy. Doc West was shown last year on Italian TV but it is making its debut on DVD here. But is it worth checking out, even if you've never seen a Terrance Hill movie before?

The Show

Terrance Hill stars as Minnesota West, who we meet wiring a large sum of cash to a boarding school in Boston. Shortly after he leaves the post office, it is robbed. He sets out on his horse to give chase, but his horse is dealing with a cracked hoof, so he can't go off at full speed and must slowly track the bandits. Before he can catch up with them, he sees a young boy, Silver, thrown from his horse and nearly attacked by a rattlesnake. One well placed shot from his rifle and the snake has no rattle, while a quick distraction with apple pie allows him to set Silver's dislocated shoulder. In a fortuitous turn of events, the bandits West is chasing went past the boy and were on their way to the the boy's hometown of Holysand.

Turns out Holysand is in turmoil as two sides are vying for control. An unscrupulous rancher, Nathan Mitchell, and his band of thugs are threatening the law-abiding citizens of the town, including the sheriff, Basehart. Minnesota West arrives just in time to be caught in the middle of it. Throw in a potential love interest and a few more plot threads, and you have all the ingredients you need for a successful Western.

You have all of the ingredients, but something in the mixing didn't quite work. It's not a bad movie, but it's all so... what's the word I'm looking for? Pleasant. I know that doesn't sound like a complaint, but the film lacks an edge to it. Maybe I'm being unfair, because this is a TV mini-series and comparing it to the more gritty Westerns that have hit theaters in recent years. I guess it would be better to compare it to a show like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Given that comparison, this wouldn't be a bad pilot for a TV series. It's still a little heavy on the clich├ęs, but acceptable entertainment, if you are a fan of the genre.

The Extras

There are no extras on the DVD.

The Verdict

Doc West is a worth checking out for fans of Terrance Hill's old Spaghetti Western Comedies. It's tone and quality is inline with TV shows more than theatrical releases, while the lack of extras on the DVD hurts its value. Call it a rental.

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