Film / A Bullet For The General

A Bullet for the General aka El Chuncho, quién sabe? is a Spaghetti Western from 1966, directed by Damiano Damiani.

A gang of bandits led by El Chuncho rob a train, and one of the passengers, a young American called Tate, ends up joining the gang. Chuncho nicknames him Niño, and they gradually become friends.Chuncho intends to sell the guns they acquired through the robbery to a revolutionary Mexican general, and Tate helps the gang plan and carry out several raids to get more guns. Despite his original mercenary motives Chuncho becomes more and more invested in helping the villagers fight their oppressors, but it becomes apparent that the manipulative Tate had his own reasons for joining the gang - and aiding the revolutionaries wasn't one of them.

The cast includes Gian Maria Volontè (who played two different villains, Ramon Rojo in A Fistful of Dollars and El Indio in For a Few Dollars More), Klaus Kinski, and Lou Castel.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Chuncho is a murderous, violent rascal, and he's our main character.
  • Bandito: Chuncho is one of the key characters to have redefined the archetype as a complex, sympathetic figure as opposed to merely a malicious one.
  • Batman Gambit: How Tate gets the gang to leave San Miguel.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Tate. Chuncho is the real protagonist.
  • Emotional Bruiser: Chuncho.
  • Evil All Along: Tate, also known as Niño.
  • Heroic BSOD: Chuncho is first devastated to find that first the villagers he'd been trying to train in San Miguel had all been killed in an attack, thanks to have been lured away by Tate; then when he gets the brother he loves, Santo, to execute him, Tate kills Santo to hurt Chuncho even more and let him live with the pain of him having not been able to save the villagers, and finally breaks down over the death of the General.
  • Ironic Nickname: Tate's nickname Niño.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: When bandits raid the mansion of the corrupt town mayor, the husband, Felipe, cowers and has to be escorted by a servant to the kitchen, while the wife, Rosario, attempts to get a gun to try and fend off the bandits, and faces them in person.
  • Marked Bullet: The golden one Chuncho finds in Tate's valise. It's intended for the revolutionary General Elías, whom Tate's been hired to kill.
  • New Meat: How the gang initially think of Niño/Tate.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Chuncho abandons San Miguel after he hears that the valuable machine gun has been stolen, and instead of returning it, decides to take it over to General Elias. Abandoning San Miguel gets all of the inhabitants except for Santo slaughtered in battle, and taking it to Elias allows Tate to assassinate the revolutionary leader.
  • The Quiet One: Tate.
  • Rebel Leader: General Elías.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Scrappy, sensitive Chuncho, and cold, calculating Tate.
  • Religious Bruiser: El Santo, Chuncho's obsessively religious brother.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In the end Chuncho rejects both Tate's money and his friendship. Instead he kills him, both for leading him to betray the cause and for killing Santo.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Tate.
  • South of the Border
  • Spaghetti Western
  • Spicy Latina: Adelita
  • Strawman Political: Arguably the point of the movie.
  • Subverted Trope: The film intends to shake up the "gringo and his Mexican criminal buddy" relationship that was just being established in Spaghetti Westerns. Though Chuncho is a murderer, he is redeemed by the needs of the people. And though Tate is at first an observer, he turns out to be using Chuncho to get to the general because he's an assassin against the revolution.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Subverted. Chuncho didn't have much time or patience to train the villagers of San Miguel and they're all slaughtered in his absence.
  • Suicideby Cop: In a sense, Chuncho, almost. When he finds that the villagers of San Miguel were all massacred, he offers himself to be executed as punishment for abandoning his duty. He has his brother shoot him, but it's averted when Tate murders Santo.
  • Tsundere: Adelita is spiteful and demanding towards her boyfriend Pepito, yet it's revealed that she deeply cares about him and is absolutely devastated when he dies in a gunfight.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Tate slaps the wealthy landowner's wife to make her stop yelling.
  • Villainous Valour: The Lieutenant at the beginning of the movie, bravely trying to rescue the captain from Chuncho and his gang, only to be shot down by Chuncho. Then again, this is a world of Blackand Grey Morality, so it depends on who's more heroic, the lieutenant or Chuncho.
  • You Killed My Brother: Tate kills Chuncho's brother to let Chuncho live with the pain of his transgression.