The Great Silence (1968)

greatsilence_6The Great Silence [Il grande silenzio] (1968)
AKA The Big Silence

Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Vonetta McGee, Mario Brega, Carlo D’Angelo, Marisa Merlini

Directed by Sergio Corbucci

Expectations: Low.


The Great Silence must be pretty high on the list of the bleakest films in existence. So if you’re not going to be OK with a movie that doesn’t contain a single shred of hope, optimism or happiness, then The Great Silence is one to avoid. But for those willing to take the plunge into this snow-covered land of darkness ruled by ruthless bounty killers and their greed, then you are in for one of the greatest Italian westerns of all time.

The Great Silence opens by introducing us to Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant), a mute gunman who lives by a strict code of only firing on a man in self-defense. He is a good man living in a cutthroat world, but his quickness on the draw and his code allow him to stay within the bounds of the law. On the other side of the proverbial coin is Loco (Klaus Kinski), a bounty killer who will kill anyone, anywhere without a second thought… as long as there’s a reward to be collected. He is an evil man, but like Silence he is also technically operating within the confines of the law. The film inevitably puts these two men against one another, but to describe the film in such simple terms makes it sound a lot more average and unremarkable than it actually is.

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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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