Tuesday, June 16, 2020


PILI Y MILI were twin blonde sisters (Pilar and Emilia Bayona) from Zaragoza, Spain, who appeared together in a number of film vehicles in their native Spain, and later Mexico, in the 1960’s. Pilar worked in film and TV until 2011 and is still alive as of this writing; Emilia (also still alive in early 2020) retired from the screen after the final duo film with her sister, a 1970 feature from Mexico, co-starring well-known Mexican actor and pop singer Enrique Guzman (I have one of his albums, featuring teen rock and roll!). These ladies could seemingly do it all….comedy, dance, singing, trick horse-riding, vaudeville-style routines. They also fake the sharp-shooting mentioned in the film’s title convincingly. They have a lot of charm and a dynamic physical presence, and this film is very much their vehicle.

Things start as they ride into a western town (probably used in other Spanish westerns too), hanging dangerously off the side of their horses in the manner of Bob Steele or Yakima Canutt. As they get the attention of the people on the street, they set up a kind of medicine show where they sell an “elixir” made by their grandfather, who’s also part of the act, from syrup and tea, and which claims to cure whatever ails you. In the first few minutes, the girls encounter two young men, the son of a local rancher (played by lanky and charismatic Sean Flynn, son of Errol) and a railroad engineer. The girls are initially put off and offended by the men, but you know as soon as the guys are shown to be basically honest people, they will eventually become the romantic interests for the ladies.

Don’t expect any extreme violence or bleak nihilism as you find so often in Euro-westerns. This one could get a “G” rating in that on the whole, it’s got an “Apple Dumpling Gang Goes West” kind of feel to it. The sheriff may be corrupt and there are cartoonish villains, but you’ll see no one shot ten times, no one spitting on a corpse, none of the usual things you’d expect from a Spanish western. However, it moves well, the sets (surely erected for some other Spanish western and given a modest re-dressing) are convincing, in convincing you that you’re in a European “movie western town” version of Corriganville with names painted on signs in front of businesses, etc., and the ladies get a lot of chances do show you their various vaudeville-style dance routines, card tricks, acrobatic skills, and comic set-pieces. After seeing the film, I’d love to have caught their act at some swank nightclub in Barcelona or Mazatlán, circa 1967.…if I could afford it and they’d let me in!

The feel of the film is a lot like a Spanish version of a Judy Canova comedy (I reviewed one of her films a few months back), and the soundtrack is the light-hearted “western” music you’d get in a Canova vehicle, except for when the girls are in the midst of their comic pratfalls and acrobatics, where the score offers a Spanish version of circus music, including slide whistles, cymbal crashes, and the like.

Sean Flynn does exactly what he needs to do, which is act as straight man to the ladies (it’s THEIR film, not his), show his derring-do every ten minutes or so to extricate the ladies from a dangerous situation, and provide a red herring for the cattle rustling and attacks on the ranch until we found out who is REALLY responsible. He looks great in jeans and a western shirt, he’s fit, his face and body communicate whatever emotion he’s supposed to be showing (I don’t think there is an English language version of this—I’ve never seen one offered in 35 years of collecting, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong on that point—mine is in Spanish) since he’ll be dubbed into various languages, and he radiates boyish charm. What more could you want from him?

There is an English title online for the film of A WOMAN FOR RINGO, but Flynn is not playing Ringo, he’s playing Jimmy Trevor, so that makes no sense, but certainly sounds great! Perhaps in another dub he’s named Ringo, but certainly not in the Spanish version.

I saw this film at the end of a long workday, and it was just what I needed. I could check my brain at the door and then let the magical PILI Y MILI do a western-themed nightclub act shot in a movie-western town in Almeria, Spain, with an authentic American who’d been in Western films, Sean Flynn, for a little authenticity (authenticity that would pass in Spain, that is). The version I saw did have English “fan-dub” subtitles that were more than adequate, but if you were told the plot, you probably wouldn’t even need subtitles because things are played so broadly. I did not take a bathroom break or go to the kitchen for a snack for the film’s 88 minute running time, so in terms of entertainment value, I must credit director Rafael Romero Marchent (a reliable director—this was the second of 32 films for him--I’ve seen 6 or 7 of his other films and enjoyed every one….DEAD MEN DON’T COUNT, with Anthony Steffen and Mark Damon, PREY OF VULTURES with Peter Lee Lawrence, HANDS OF A GUNFIGHTER with Craig Hill, etc.) with delivering the goods. And for a 54-year-old throwaway vehicle for a nightclub sister-act, that’s impressive. NO on the Netflix—SI  on the PILI Y MILI CON SEAN FLYNN!


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Pili > Mili.

Alvin Bishop said...

This is the place for pop culture obscurity info! Keep 'em comin', Bill! Cheers! Alvin Bishop