A Coffin for the Sheriff (1965)

A Coffin for the Sheriff [Una bara per lo sceriffo] (1965)
AKA Lone and Angry Man & Tomb for the Sheriff

Starring Anthony Steffen, Eduardo Fajardo, Fulvia Franco, George Rigaud, Armando Calvo, Arturo Dominici, Luciana Gilli, Miguel Del Castillo, Jesús Tordesillas, Tomás Torres, María Vico

Directed by Mario Caiano

Expectations: Low, but I enjoy Anthony Steffen so hopefully it’ll be good.

Let’s just cut to the chase: A Coffin for the Sheriff is a good, enjoyable spaghetti western, but one that is very average and clichéd. The fact that it remains interesting and fun is a testament to the quality of the storytelling, with the mystery of our main character Shenandoah slowly revealed over the course of the film. If you’ve seen any movie like this before, I’m sure you can unravel it rather quickly as I did, but regardless, it’s a story well told with lots of good scenes sprinkled throughout.

The film opens with Lupe Rojo’s gang robbing a wagon and murdering the people on it. This leads into an awesome montage of wanted posters, telegraph operators and the ever-riding Lupe Rojo as he continues to skirt the law in any way he can. After this we meet Shenandoah (played by genre-staple Anthony Steffen), a mysterious stranger who rides into town and has a run-in with the bandit group. Instead of fighting against them as you’d expect though, he rides off with them, helping an injured member escape along with him. Is this Shenandoah worthy of your trust? (On a side note: The word/name Shenandoah ranks near the top of my most hated words in the lexicon of classic Western cinema and its use here continues to annoy me.)

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No Room to Die (1969)

No Room to Die [Una lunga fila di croci] (1969)
AKA “A Hanging for Django” & “A Noose for Django” & “Django und Sartana – die tödlichen zwei”

Starring Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Nicholetta Machavelli, Riccardo Garrone, Mario Brega, Gilberto Galimberti, Emilio Messina, Giancarlo Sisti, Maria Angela Giordano, Franco Ukmar, Giovanni Ukmar, Angelo Susani, Renzo Peverelli, Alejandro Barrera Dakar

Directed by Sergio Garrone

Expectations: Moderate. I really enjoyed Django the Bastard, the Sergio Garrone/Anthony Steffan movie I saw last summer.

No Room to Die may well be the most gun-filled spaghetti western I’ve ever seen. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there’s gunplay nearly every five minutes. There are literally over twenty separate scenes of dudes shooting lead at one another, and boy is it fun! The plot is definitely not No Room to Die‘s strong suit, with weak storytelling painting a vague picture to string together all of these gunfights. I wavered in and out of comprehension before nearly giving up completely because it was getting in the way of my enjoyment of the gunfighting. To be fair, I’m sure if I was paying close attention it would have made more sense, but I find it hard to take dubbed voices seriously sometimes. Anyway, for ease of description I’ll be calling the main characters by their clone names instead of the scripted ones because it makes it a lot easier. Hey, if the Italians can dishonestly market dozens of films under the Django banner, I can use their names in a review.

Django and Sartana are bounty hunters fending for themselves in a small Western town by hunting the bandits hiding out in the hills. Meanwhile, an evil landowner named Fargo is smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico to work for him. The men that carry out these smuggling deals for Fargo are hardened criminals with mighty fine prices on their heads, so it only makes sense that Django and Sartana will come a-callin’ before long.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Django the Bastard (1969)

DjangotheBastardDjango the Bastard [Django il Bastardo] (1969)
AKA Django the Avenger, The Stranger’s Gundown

Starring Anthony Steffen, Paolo Gozlino, Luciano Rossi, Teodoro Corra, Jean Louis, Carlo Gaddi, Thomas Rudy, Lucia Bomez

Directed By Sergio Garrone

Django the Bastard takes a pretty uninspired, revenge-driven storyline and manages to turn it into the ultimate ninja film. It looks like a western, it even smells like a western, but take a closer look and you might start mistaking those six-shooters and cowboy hats for ninja stars and black hoods.

A lot has happened to our hero since the first film. First, Django’s hands have completely healed. Great! Second, Django has seemed to have taken on some supernatural powers. In fact, he is often referred to as a ghost or apparition throughout the film. When asked by a dying victim who he is, Django replies “I am a devil from hell.” It sounds a little wonky at first, but give it time and soon you will be eating it up every time you see Django disappear into thin air in the middle of a conversation, clone himself in front of an enemy begging for mercy, or emerge from shadows or thick plumes of smoke just long enough to take out some frightened gunslingers.

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