James Garner in A Man Called Sledge (1970)

American Spaghetti

After killing two disgruntled gamblers who shot his partner, notorious outlaw Luther Sledge (James Garner) leaves town only to be followed by an old man (John Marley). It turns out the old man wasn't following him but was looking for a convoy carrying gold to the Rockville maximum security prison where all shipments head under a large security escort till they can be moved on to the gold exchange in the city. Quickly realising that trying to hit a heavily armed convoy of 40 men and a wagon equipped with a machine gun would be foolish, Luther comes up with a plan to get himself a one night stay in the prison as a prisoner so that he can steal the gold from the vault.

What do you get if you take an American writer/ director along with some famous American actors to Spain and Italy to make a western? Is the result a spaghetti western or some sort of mutant offspring which has the sets which belong in a Spaghetti Western as well as some of the supporting cast but doesn't have that traditional spaghetti western style. This is the conundrum which presents you with "A Man Called Sledge" which feels like it should be a Spaghetti Western yet at the same time doesn't feel like it really deserves the title because of so much American influence especially in the cast which includes James Garner, Dennis Weaver, Claude Akins, and John Marley.

John Marley in A Man Called Sledge (1970)

The annoying thing is that because the mix of American and Spaghetti Western doesn't quite gel it ends up constantly taking your mind away from the story. And it is a shame as the idea of an outlaw planning to get locked up to steal gold kept in the prison has a lot of potential especially to be an off beat spaghetti western. But here it doesn't achieve that because of the movie feeling like it should be one thing but also another.

In the end "A Man Called Sledge" ends up curious with some things working and others not. One thing which does work despite being curious is the casting of James Garner as an outlaw because for all his ruthless nature there is still something strangely likeable about Sledge. Another thing is the cinematography and Luigi Kuveiller does a beautiful job of using a lot of off centre framing to not just capture the actors but also the stunning landscape making it a visually rich movie.

What this all boils down to is that "A Man Called Sledge" ends up a western curiosity which seems to be part American western and part Spaghetti Western. I am still not entirely sure how I feel about the movie as whilst some things work other things certain don't.