Doc West -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
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NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

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CANNES -- "Doc West" could be renamed "Doc Shane." An affectionate homage to the classic American Western, "Doc Shane" is an appealing, good-natured blend of generic elements that should appeal as family fare.

Produced as a miniseries for Italian TV and structured to fit two feature films, "Doc Shane" is truly a pre-"Wild Bunch" yarn. In this "Shane" meets "High Noon" scenario, the gunplay and mayhem are confined to winging gunmen's trigger hands and shooting off rattlers on the attack. As such, it could play as a Hallmark-type feature on U.S. cable, as well.

In this outing, Terence Hill stars as Doc West (the Alan Ladd/Gary Cooper role), the laconic stranger who rides into town and ends up taking on the bad-guy rancher and his black hats. The prototypical reluctant hero, West has a murky past and inner demons to battle. He's a teetotaler with a fast gun and a winning hand. He also has the capacity to cure what ails the townfolk, including the crusty sheriff. Befitting an Italian production, Paul Sorvino plays the town's lawman.

Under the sure hands of directors Guilio Base and Terence Hill, the films canters along at an easy and winning pace. Terence Hill is appealing in his Shane-like performance, while other members of the cast nicely flesh out their generic roles.

Production values, including some daunting skyscapes and mountains (it was shot in New Mexico), reflect the filmmakers' respect for John Ford, particularly cinematographer Massimiliano Trevis for his Monument Valley-like compositions.

Other technical credits are tops, in particular, Maurizio De Angelis' south-of-the-border, trumpet-topped score.

Festival de Cannes -- Market

Sales: TriCoast Worldwide
Production companies: An R.T.I.-DAP co-production
Cast: Terence Hill, Paul Sorvino, Clare Carey, Mary Petruolo, Micah Alberti, Alessio Di Clemente, Benjamin Petry, Linus Huffman
Directors: Giulio Base, Terence Hill
Screenwriters: Marco Tullio Barboni, Marcello Olivier, Luca (cq) Biglione, Jess Hill (English adaptation)
Producer: Anselmo Parrinello
Director of photography: Massimiliano Trevis
Production designer: Guy Barnes
Music: Maurizio De Angelis
Costume designer: Lahly Poore
Editor: Robert Siciliano

No rating, 100 minutes