Thursday, April 27, 2023

The Belle Starr Story

Over the years several films and TV series have made use of female American outlaw Belle Starr, most highly fictionalized. The 1968 spaghetti western The Belle Starr Story with Elsa Martinelli is problematic for multiple reasons not the least of which is Belle's response to fall in love with attempted rapists not once but twice in the film.

The oddly structured film has Belle being beaten at poker by fellow outlaw, and all-around scumbag, Larry Blackie (George Eastman). It follows the contentious relationship that develops until it is interrupted for a large stretch of the film to showcase Belle's backstory, showcasing another attempted rapist (Robert Woods) she refers to as the only man she ever loved, before retuning to the ongoing feud between the outlaws attempting to one-up each other rather than working together on a score which would set them both up for life.

Historically the film is noteworthy for its female protagonist (a rarity in the genre) and being the only spaghetti western to be directed by a woman (Lina Wertmüller, who took over directing the film during early days of production). The new Blu-ray from Raro Video remasters only the Italian version of the film, but it does include the lesser quality American version as an extra as well. While Martinelli certainly works as the star of the film, she's often let down by some rather bad dialogue, passable (but not memorable) action sequences, segments of the story which haven't aged well, and the odd cobbling together of the film out of order which is more likely to make you lose interest early on rather than stick around for and ending that won't reward your patience.

  • Title: The Belle Starr Story
  • IMDb: link

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