Starring Gianni Garko (billed as Gary Hudson), Fidel Gonzáles, Loredana Nusciak, Adriana Ambesi, Pinuccio Ardia, Fernando Sancho, Claudio Camaso, Franco Lantieri
Directed by Romolo Guerrieri
Expectations: Moderate. I had heard this was good, but I am treading lightly.
Finally, I get to review a Django clone film that actually has its own complete identity. This is truly a great spaghetti western and while it doesn’t approach the same caliber as Leone or Corbucci, it’s still on the short list of spaghetti westerns that might be enjoyed by a general audience.
The thing that really sets this film apart from the other Django clones is the characters. The focus is on the relationship between Django, a bounty hunter who has no problems working on both sides of the law, and Manuel, a true criminal who terrorizes those that stand in his way. Both characters have a level of depth that makes them likeable, hateable and just downright interesting all at the same time. At its heart this Western is not an action picture, as a lot of the other Django clones are trying to be. The story is character driven and a lot of its entertainment value comes from the constant back and forth play between Django and Manuel. On top of that are some good gun battles that counterpoint the character drama with some fun action.
Click the play button to listen to the $10,000 Blood Money theme while you read!
Manuel asks rhetorically, “What might be the price of four years of my life, Mendoza?”
Before Mendoza can reply, Manuel looks up slowly into his eyes and says, “What’s the name… of your daughter?”
Camaso delivers the line with a menacing, calm demeanor and instantly we know exactly the type of man he is. This event sets the rest of the plot into motion, in what proves to be a simple but effective western yarn.
Gianni Garko plays Django well, with a soft-spoken nature and a similar air of mystery to Franco Nero’s portrayal. He might not be Corbucci’s coffin-dragging badass, but I’ll take this one over the other Django clones I’ve seen so far. Generally, this Django isn’t played for novelty, although he does have his moments, such as when he shoots a face into a gourd or rolls himself in a barrel to catch an attacker off guard. These moments are fun and lighten the mood of an otherwise tense and brooding film. Garko went on to have lots of success the next year as Sartana, originating the character and playing him in four of the five official films in the series.
As a side note, there is a female character, Mijanou, played by Loredana Nusciak, who hawkeyed film buffs will recognize as Maria, the damsel in distress from the original Django film.
Be sure not to miss Uncle Jasper’s review tomorrow of Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot! from 1967, in the final day of our two-week extravaganza, A Fistful of Djangos!