I saw this movie, one of the variety known as “spaghetti westerns,” many years ago at the theater and loved it. Over the years I had forgotten the title, though remembering the plot well, and had spent a great deal of free time trying to find the name.
No luck. Then a couple of years ago, I happened to read Anthony Neil Smith”s blog one day and he was posting on the genre. There it was, the plot laid out and the title.
Lee Van Cleef plays Frank Talby, a stereotypical sadistic gunman who rides into Clifton, Arizona one day.
Giuliano Gemma, a veteran of the genre(although I’m not familiar with him other than this film), plays a young man named Scott. No last name, his mother had been a prostitute and he never knew his father. He’s the butt of the town, does all the bad jobs just to survive(empties everybody’s slop buckets in a little wagon he tows around to every house and store).
Talby takes the young man, who’d been honing a fast draw with a wooden gun, under his wing and teaches him the nine rules of being a gunfighter. When he sets him up with a real weapon and he starts practicing, he quickly becomes a proficient gunfighter himself.
Now Scott Mary(he adopts his mother’s name as his last) demands respect from the townspeople who had always spit on and mistreated him. They quickly grow to fear him. Talby sits back and laughs. “He was born a wolf. You made him rabid!”
As Talby begins to take over the town with killing and violence, Scott, a decent man at heart, realizes it’s all wrong. When Talby kills the one man who treated him kindly, he knows what has to happen, a showdown with Van Cleef.
The film was directed by Tonino Valerii, a former Sergio Leone assistant(he also directed My Name Is Nobody) and the music was done by Riz Ortolani.
A violent western, even by the standards, one favorite scene was Van Cleef in a duel with another gunman. It wasn’t the classical showdown like a lot of westerns, but a “joust” on horseback with Van Cleef and his opponent charging at each other while loading and setting percussion rifles.
One of my favorites of the spaghetti westerns I have seen.
Here’s the theme music: