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Film / Ace High

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Ace High (Italian: I quattro dell'Ave Maria, literally translated as "The Four of the Hail Mary") is an Italian spaghetti Western by Giuseppe Colizzi from 1968. The film is the second in a trilogy started with God Forgives... I Don't! and ended with Boot Hill.

After Cat Stevens and Hutch Bessy (Terence Hill and Bud Spencer) collect the bounty on Bill San Antonio, the antagonist from the previous film, they are robbed by the bandit Cacopoulos (Eli Wallach), who had escaped from prison. Tracking him down, they learned that Caco gave it all away, and is on his own mission of revenge against those who abandoned him. His friends were the banker Harold (whom he'd already killed), the murderous Paco, and casino owner Drake. On the way, they are joined by an acrobat (Brock Peters) who helps Caco to get Cat and Butch's money back.

This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Cacopoulos is vicious, but he's also a nice guy once you get to know him.
  • Bandito: Cacopoulos is one of Greek-Cherokee-Mexican heritage.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Hutch comments on a gallows being put up in the town square. "They got some nasty folks around here. They hang people, too."
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Cat is implied to be much deadlier than Hutch.
    Cat (to Cacopoulos): Oh, and another thing. This time if you get even one little idea in that worm-eaten head of yours... I'll kill you.
    Hutch (to Cacopoulos) He's not like me, you know. He'll do it.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Paco and Drake, some of Caco's old partners.
  • Big Bad Friend: Drake was once Cacopoulos' partner in crime, but ditched him after a heist, and then he or one of his men killed a deputy and framed him for it.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Cat and an army of revolutionaries arrive to save Caco and Hutch from the firing squad.
  • Catchphrase: Caco has, "My grandfather used to say..."
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Cacopoulos completely vanished by the start of Boot Hill.
  • Clothing Damage: Hutch's new clothes get torn in a brawl at the beginning of the film.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Cat Stevens and Hutch Bessy are the first characters we see in the film, but this is Cacopoulos' story.
  • Disappeared Dad: Caco mentions in his backstory how his father was murdered when he was an infant.
  • Disney Death: Cacopoulos faints after he's shot from a gunfight with Drake. Hutch assumes him to be dead, but Thomas checks his pulse and proves him wrong.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Caco sleeps with a hooker at a cantina while waiting for his revenge plan on Drake to start, and wakes up to find that she stole all his money. Oops.
  • Expy:
    • Cacopoulos is a kinder, gentler, slightly smarter Tuco. He is played by Eli Wallach, and he has a St. Benedict's medal strung on a pouch like Tuco.
    • Cat is sort of an Expy of the Man with No Name.
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Cacopoulos gets a job in a kitchen after having gambled his money away while investigating Drake's casino.
  • False Friend: Drake is this to Cacopoulos.
  • Fixing the Game: How Drake was able to cheat Cacopoulos out of the money he brought with him.
  • Freudian Trio: Cacopoulos is The Kirk, Cat is The Spock and Hutch is The McCoy.
  • Friend to All Children: Cacopoulos comforts several babies while talking to Hutch, a sign of his tender and gentle side.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Hutch is Choleric, Cat is Melancholic, Thomas is Sanguine and Cacopoulos is Phlegmatic.
  • The Gadfly: Caco playfully teases a drunken Hutch by pretending to be his own Wanted poster and changing his expression every time he looks away.
  • The Gambling Addict: Cacopoulos. He loses money in a game of roulette while chasing down Drake in the casino.
  • Gilligan Cut: When the newly wealthy Cat and Hutch see a man having his picture taken:
    Hutch: You know, I've never had my picture taken.
    Cat: Well, now's as good a time as any.
    Hutch: No.
    (Cut to him sitting in front of a camera.)
    • Another one occurs when Cacopoulos and Hutch infiltrate a place of execution, where Paco (Livio Lorenzon) is ordering the deaths of revolutionaries.
    Hutch: Like you said. Child's play.
    Cacopoulos: Leave it to me.
    (Cut to the two of them about to be executed by the firing squad)
    Hutch: "Leave it to me", huh?
    Cacopoulos: I didn't force you to come.
  • Girly Run: Cacopoulos does this a little, given the actor he's played by.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Hutch and Cat
  • Improvised Armor: Sort of. When Harold throws a knife at Cacopoulos, he (Cacopoulos) uses the chair he's sitting in as a shield.
  • Ironic Nickname: Caco calls Hutch "Tiny" a few times.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cacopoulos. Sure, he's a bandit and a murderer, but one who occasionally helps the poor and needy. He even decides to give back the money he stole from Cat and Hutch. He does seem to want to make everybody happy.
  • Kick the Dog: Drake trash-talks Cacopoulos when they finally meet, calls him a "lice-infected jailbird" and tells him how pathetic he is, that he can only arouse pity.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Caco was abandoned by his partners during a heist, and then framed for murdering a deputy, causing him to start getting his revenge on them.
  • Not Me This Time: Though Cacopoulos is a bandit and a murderer, he did not kill the deputy while he was out at the saloon, and someone else framed him while he was passed out.
  • Only One Name: Cacopoulos. We never get to find out if its his first or last name.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Drake's henchman Maurice, who insults the "Negro" Thomas.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Butch is emotional and aggressive and Cat is calm and rational.
  • Revenge: Caco wants this against his comrades who double-crossed him.
  • Spaghetti Western
  • Satellite Character: Cat Stevens has little to no character outside of being The Stoic and being Heterosexual Life-Partners with Hutch.
  • Spit Take: Hutch does one when he finds out that the old man the had been staying with had not only been rescued from poverty by Cacopoulos, but that Cacopoulos had handed the man Cat and Hutch's bounty money.
  • The Stoic: Cat Stevens.
  • The Unreveal: We never get to learn in Cacopoulos' penultimate scene what his grandfather used to say because he faints mid-sentence.
  • Token Minority: Thomas, who is a black acrobat.