Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Watch Out We’re Mad (...Altrimenti ci arrabbiamo!)

The Good, The Mad & The Ugly

Watch Out We’re Mad (...Altrimenti ci arrabbiamo!)
Italy/Spain 1974
Directed by Marcello Fondato
Paradiso Region 2

I’ve been searching for this movie for 38 years!

Back in 1974, when I was six years old, I went away on holiday somewhere with my parents to a Butlins Holiday Camp. I don’t remember where it was but I do remember attending a screening of this movie, Watch Out We’re Mad with my mother and father. I also remember that both me and my father both loved it!

There are a few things I recalled about this movie my whole life, even though the details of the on screen antics of the two main protagonists had dimmed to nothing pretty quickly over the first couple of years. But here are the impressions which were left to me before I rewatched this again a couple of weeks ago...

Well, for one thing, it was the first exposure any of us in our family had had, at the time, to the world famous comedy duo of Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. These two are a riot when they’re in their own separate films (I especially appreciate Bud Spencer in Dario Argento’s Four Flies On Grey Velvet, not that it’s a comedy but he’s still got a lot of good spirited presence in his scenes) but when the two are put side to side in a movie, there’s a special on-screen chemistry which makes them an absolute joy to watch, even if the movies they are in are not always the most special.

Then there’s the action. I remembered there being lots of punch ups in it. Lot’s of sequences where, pretty much, people just hit each other a lot. This kind of stuff is good when you are a six year old, so it’s no wonder that a movie which involved lots of face pounding was a big hit with me.

And then there was the music. For some reason, though I only saw it the once in that Butlins Holiday Camp, that main title music always stuck with me. I used to whistle it all the time as a six/seven year old, play fighting in the back garden (before Doc Savage came out and the music to that was added to my repertory, along with the music from the Flash Gordon serials and, later, Battle Of The Planets and Monkey). It was a favourite piece of mine, although it would be only a few years short of the 38 years it took me to find the movie to be able to find that particular track on a CD compilation of the De Angelis brothers. It always bothered me that I could only ever get one track from the soundtrack of the movie... until I watched it again after all these years. Now I know why... keep reading if you want to find out too ;-)

When the DVD finally came through the mail, one of the things that hadn’t stuck in my mind was that Donald Pleasance is also in the movie... playing the psychiatric adviser to the chief villain, played by the very British “whos-that-I-recognise-him-from-stuff” John Sharp. Sharp plays the character as very stupid, in order to give Donald Pleasance the chance to shout at him and over act, really a lot, in a histrionic, German psychiatrist kinda way. A performance that would seem way over the top even if it were in a mid 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, let alone a live action movie... although, to be fair, that’s almost what Watch Out We’re Mad is... a cartoon with live actors. Watching it again now, it’s quite clear that if I were to call the film somewhat comic-book in its presentation, it would be pretty much understating the obvious.

The plot is quite simplistic. Two heroes, Bud and Terence, win a dune buggy in a stock car race which is tied between them. They spend a day arguing about ownership but in the middle of their hot dog eating/beer drinking contest to settle their dispute, they get inadvertently caught up in a smash raid by the local gang and their new dune buggy goes up in smoke. They then spend the rest of the movie harassing the gang to replace their dune buggy and getting into lots of punch ups and chases in the process. And that’s it.

And the reason I couldn’t find a decent LP or CD album to this movie over the years, it turns out, is because asides from maybe ten minutes of other music in the film, most of which is just diegetic source anyway, the music really just consists of that same main title song, Dune Buggy, played over and over again throughout the movie whenever there’s an action sequence happening. No wonder I remembered it so well when I was a kid, it’s repeated on the soundtrack all the time. Luckily... ‘cause it’s as catchy as hell!

What I got from the experience of looking back on this movie is that... it really hasn’t got much else going for it than what I remembered. The direction and cinematography are all quite competent, which for an Italian movie means it’s more considered and artistically presented than a lot of other countries efforts might have been with the same material to work with... but it still is just a movie about people riding cars and motor bikes and punching each other in the face a lot. I couldn’t say I was disappointed though. Sure I would have liked to have seen more in it but, hey, it’s a nice enough piece and I’ll certainly be watching it again some time in the next few years.

Unlike the dodgy Region 1 edition of the movie which is in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the Region 2 edition is in a 1.85:1 widescreen presentation, which I’m guessing is the way I initially saw it all those years ago. If you’re a Bud Spencer and Terence Hill fan then this is probably one of their better, non-Western movies and you might like to give it a watch. If you’re a parent and you want something with a lot of action in it to watch with the kids, then this would probably fit the bill. If you’re a fan of comedy/action movies and are able to watch things in the context of when they came out instead of comparing them to their modern equivalents, then you might also have a blast with this. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone but, if you fit one of those three categories, then you might like to give it a spin. Either way, it brought back fond memories for both me and my dad, and for that I’m grateful.

Okay. Now I’m pretty sure my memory is not playing tricks on me but I remember going to another Butlins Holiday Camp (no, really, I’m not a red coat fan, honest gov!) a year or two later and seeing the sequel to this which was called, if I remember correctly, We’re Still Mad. This is another movie I would dearly love to see again but after looking for this one in all the usual places, I am being told that this sequel movie never existed in the first place. Except I remember seeing it. Now it may have been “marketed” as a sequel to audiences over here and “smoothed over” in the dub but I’d really like to get a bead on this movie if anyone else can remember it? Would really like to get a copy of this one somehow. Please DM or @ me on Twitter if you know the movie I’m talking about.

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