The Silent Stranger (1969)

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Since American actor Tony Anthony's "Stranger" is reportedly based on Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name," this third title in the Italian-made Stranger series can be seen as bringing the character full circle by sending him to Japan, the country which provided partial inspiration for his inception (the first Man With No Name film, 1964's A Fistful of Dollars, was a reworking of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, 1961). Entrusted to return a valuable Japanese scroll to its rightful owner, the Stranger travels to Japan and becomes caught in a struggle between two powerful and greedy factions of a warring family, each of which wants to claim the scroll for its own. Anthony's wry charm and a wealth of well-staged action sequences make this Italian/Japanese/American co-production a rollicking good time for Euro-Western veterans and novices alike. Though rarely credited as such, The Silent Stranger predates the spate of East-meets-West spaghetti Westerns that surfaced in the early '70s, including 1971's Red Sun with Charles Bronson, and 1973's The Stranger and the Gunfighter and Fighting Fists of Shanghai Joe. A dispute between American producer Allen Klein's ABKCO Films and distributor MGM kept it from being seen in stateside theaters until 1975. The Stranger series got even stranger with its fourth and final entry, 1976's Get Mean, which pitted Anthony against Moors and Vikings in Spain.