The Girl of the Golden West

In Italian with English Captions

Long Story Short

The original spaghetti Western: Spunky saloon-keeper saves handsome bandit from posse and saves herself from lecherous sheriff.

Who's Who?

Minnie Falconer, the Girl of the Golden West, is a beautiful young woman who keeps a saloon in California. She longs for true love and has yet to bestow her first kiss.

Dick Johnson is a gentleman from San Francisco who turns out to be Ramerrez, a bandit with a price on his head.

Jack Rance left a loveless marriage back east to go west and look for gold. He’s sheriff of Cloudy Mountain and a compulsive gambler.

Nick is Minnie’s bartender.

Ashby works for Wells Fargo and is hot on the trail of Ramerrez.

Nina Micheltorena is a local prostitute who has fallen in love with Dick Johnson.

Wowkle and Billy Jackrabbit are native Americans; Wowkle lives with Minnie, and Billy is Wowkle’s fiancé and father to her baby.

Jake Wallace is a ballad-singer.

José Castro is a member of Ramerrez’s gang.

Sonora and Trin are miners; both are in love with Minnie.

Sid is a miner from Australia who cheats at cards.

Jim Larkens is a homesick miner from Cornwall.

Happy, Handsome, Harry, and Joe are miners.

Where and When?

In Cloudy Mountain, a mining camp in the California Sierras, during the Gold Rush of 1849-1850.

What's Going On?

Welcome to “The Polka” Saloon, where a motley gang of rough and uncouth gold miners gamble, drink whisky, and sing to each other in Italian. Most of them are in love with Minnie, who runs “The Polka” and who is the only thing remotely resembling a virtuous woman out here in this God-forsaken place. Minnie teaches the boys Bible stories—when she’s not flirting with them and selling them whisky. Jack Rance, the sheriff, intends to marry Minnie, despite the fact that he’s already got a wife. Minnie seemed to welcome his attentions until a recent trip to Sacramento, when she spoke with a handsome stranger on the trail. Since then she’s cooled towards Rance.

In her saloon Minnie guards the miners’ gold; and so impressed is she with the sacrifices her boys are making, all for the sake of their faraway families, she has vowed to protect the safe with her life. One night Ramerrez and his gang come by to rob “The Polka.” But Ramerrez enters the saloon in his disguise as Dick Johnson, the San Francisco gentleman Minnie met on the road to Monterey. No sooner have they recognized each other then they’ve fallen in love, much to the annoyance of Jack Rance. But Rance and the miners run off on a wild goose chase in search of Ramerrez. Left alone, Minnie asks “Johnson” to visit her at her cabin on the mountainside, later that night. Ramerrez, deeply moved, calls off the attempt to rob Minnie’s saloon.

He visits her that evening, and the two are enjoying a lovely meal, lots of sweet talk, and Minnie’s first kiss when the miners, still hunting Ramerrez, burst in. “Johnson” hides while the boys tell Minnie her handsome San Francisco stranger is none other than a thieving bandit—and what’s more, he’s been seen on the trail leading to her house! They have learned all this from his mistress, Nina Micheltorena. Minnie thanks them for the information and sends them all away, whereupon she whirls upon “Johnson.” She knows he came to “The Polka” intending to rob her; why didn’t he? “You made me want to become a better man,” he insists. Furious that this robber has stolen her first kiss and jealous of his relationship with Nina Micheltorena, Minnie sends him out into the snowy night. A shot is heard, and he stumbles back in, bleeding. He’s been shot by the jealous Rance, who was hiding outside. Minnie hides him in her loft, and while Rance is searching her cabin Johnson’s blood drips down onto him from the loft, revealing him. Minnie challenges Rance to a game of poker. If he wins, he can kill Johnson and marry her; if she wins, Rance has to leave them both alone. Minnie cheats and wins, and Rance goes out into the snowy night.

A week later, the miners finally catch Ramerrez. They are about to kill him when Minnie convinces them to let her take him off to begin a new life. It’s never too late for redemption, she explains, and she and Ramerrez sing a poignant “Addio, mio California” as they head east, toward the rising sun.

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