Directed by Roland Klick
January 20 at the Spectacle Theater's Klick retrospective
Deadlock, from the German writer-director Roland Klick, is a perfect B-movie, an acid western that grooves almost exclusively on generic surfaces but inadvertently gets at the heart of what makes the formulaic tropes it employs so enjoyable.
When we first meet Mr. Dump (Mario Adorf), he's got two women, a beat-up little truck and some money of his own. He's the representative of a mining company stationed in the middle of nowhere, possibly in America, though it's never explicitly stated (the film was shot in Israel's Negev Desert).
Dump then meets the Kid (Marquard Boehm, looking like a cross between young Mick Jagger and David Carradine), a drifter in a cheap suit carrying a suitcase full of money. Now, being a big fish in a small pond has made Dump think he's got the upper hand. Nobody visits him, so why shouldn't he flaunt the little power he has over the Kid? Unfortunately for Dump, the Kid's not working alone and his partner, Mr. Sunshine (Anthony Dawson), is a bit of a sadist. On top of that, Sunshine's got a gun—and Dump does not.
In Klick's western, you have to have all the cards to win. If you have the gun and the money but no bullets, you're shit out of luck. But if you have the money and the other guy has the loaded gun, then you're at something of an impasse. The plot's role reversals give familiars like the women, the gun, the car, and the suitcase full of money an almost totemic power; Klick wears his Leone influences on his sleeve and proves that he's seen a lot of westerns but, more importantly, that he gets what makes them great.