‘I’m on this ride ’cause I have no pride / in myself, in man or in god / Now if you want to share in the price of my fare / then fill your mind with greed that is blind / and wander around in a fog……..’
Two drifters join up with an escaped criminal on the road. They wander about a bit, take part in an 8-man invasion of Cuba and then throw an old man down a well. Afterwards, they go off into the mountains with a young widow they’ve just met to look at a hole in the ground.
Cult classic from director Coleman Francis, the man who gave us the ‘Beast of Yucca Flats’ (1961). That ‘shocker’ starred a bald Swedish ex-wrestler (and Ed Wood graduate) named Tor Johnson. Along with a fluffy rabbit.
By the time he got to ‘Mundo Fine’, Francis had discovered synchronised sound (at least for some scenes) but it doesn’t really help things much. Maybe the jumbled fragments of plot on offer are the result of money troubles or perhaps they’re simply the product of a script gone AWOL; it’s kind of hard to say. Dialogue is fairly sparing and one event follows another without anything so tiresome as an explanation, or as complex as basic narrative logic. When the young widow takes a shine to our Three Amigos(!) late on, all we’re offered is that they fought with her dead husband in Cuba. Apparently. Anyway, she’s alone in an isolated farm miles from anywhere so she lets them spend the night. As you would.
And that brings us to the big action sequences. As part of their aimless wanderings, the trio are recruited by some faceless authority types to invade communist Cuba. Perhaps it’s part of a sinister government plot, perhaps it’s a private enterprise, we never find out. Similarly, we’re left pretty clueless as to why our heroes go along with it. Perhaps they just needed something to do. Sadly, it proves to be not all that glamorous; they are captured almost at once and spend most of their time in a hut with a bloke who sweats a lot and pulls silly faces. One thrilling escape and return to the mainland later, they wander into a diner for some breakfast. I’m guessing that the coffee isn’t too good because they grab the old man from behind the counter and shove him down a well. As you do.
But there is one redeeming feature in all of this. At the opening of the film, we get a reporter interviewing train engineer John Carradine who has apparently witnessed the whole thing (somehow). Carradine is only on screen for a few moments (still the best part of the film) but much more importantly he sings the theme song.
And what a song it is! Ray Gregory and the Melmen are obviously quite a combo but it’s the lyrics and Carradine’s delivery that turn it into a classic! I have been searching for a decent download/copy but without success.
Francis only made 3 films and also takes the lead role here as jailbird Griffin; a man who ‘went to hell with nothing but a penny and a broken cigarette’. And maybe that’s really what this film is supposed to be: an allegory depicting one man’s descent into hell. Or perhaps not. You decide. Only don’t waste too much time thinking about it.