This three disc, ten movie set covers one of Europe’s most popular western characters in the spaghetti genre. Never big in the United States, he’s become somewhat of a cult figure, even today, among fans.
There are either four or five “official” films in the series, depending on where you look. Gianni Garko played him in four films and George Hilton took the role in the fifth when Garko turned it down. Purists don’t consider the Hilton film official as he wasn’t the original actor. Others do as the same company and director made the movie.
Apparently copyright laws in Europe were a little loose back then(now I don’t know about) and quite a few films were made using Sartana by other companies(some films even threw Sartana in the title just to sell the picture). The same thing happened with other popular characters such as Trinity and Django(one “official” and thirty sequels).
Garko played a not so nice character named Sartana in a movie before the series, which is where he apparently got the job and the name was liked/used. Later, he played a character called Mr. Silver where he riffed on Sartana in some mannerisms and dress.
Sartana is presented as a mysterious character, a gambler/gunman, hinting at times that he might be a ghostly avenger, always seeming to appear at the right time to insert himself into a situation where the innocent are usually in trouble. In gun battle after gun battle, bullets never seem to hit him and he rarely misses when he returns fire.
Tall and lean, he dresses in a fancy black suit, vest and tie, with a black, red-lined cape. Riding a white horse, he has a wide ranging arsenal from a strange four barrel derringer, a watch on a long chain made of lead(makes a nice club), Winchester, Colt peacemaker, and even an organ that held a disguised cannon/machine gun. In one picture, he even has a small, robot-like mechanical toy that holds explosives. His favorite hangouts seem to be saloons and gambling casinos.
The first director was fond of the James Bond pictures and wanted a similar western character when the series was starting. The mcguffin driving these five pictures is gold, large amounts, and the body count is always extremely high.
Sartana is on the side of the innocent and is usually going up against the rich and powerful, though he’s never shy about taking the gold involved in the various plots.
IF YOU MEET SARTANA, PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH
There seems to be three sides in this one. Klaus Kinski has an outlaw band, there’s an outfit led by a Mexican “General,” and the good townspeople involved in the swindle. Sartana keeps popping up, breaking up robberies and causing shifting alliances until he wins out in the end.
I AN SARTANA, YOUR ANGEL OF DEATH
Sartana is framed for a bank robbery, $300,000 in gold, and paper is put out on him to the tune of $10,000 dead or alive. He investigates to clear his name and, of course, find that gold. Klaus Kinski appears as a bounty hunter.
HAVE A GOOD FUNERAL, MY FRIEND…SARTANA WILL PAY
This one involves a crooked banker, an even more crooked Chinese gambling hall owner, con men, and worthless land that everyone seems to want. The owner is murdered and his niece comes to town to claim the land. Sartana is on hand to help her, but everything is not as it seems.
SARTANA IS HERE…TRADE YOUR PISTOL FOR A COFFIN
This seems to have been the fifth filmed, but fourth released in the series. George Hilton takes the role after Garko passes.
Gold shipments from the local mine keeps getting stolen. Sartana pops in just as one load is hit, watching as the guards and driver are killed, then dynamite thrown in the coach as the gang rides off. He stops the explosion only to discover that the strong box is filled with rocks instead of gold. Naturally, he decides to investigate what is going on. The smell of gold always interests him.
LIGHT THE FUSE…SARTANA IS COMING
This one involves half a million in gold, two million in counterfeit bills, and a deal gone bad. The gold and paper disappears and Sartana is one of the people looking for it. He plays all sides off against each other, until he can find that gold.
That covers the main series.
Gianni Garko appeared in two other westerns that used the Sartana name or motif. BLOOD AT SUNDOWN came before the series and he was Sartana, a blood thirsty sort who had taken over the town while his brother was away in prison for twelve years. The movie concerns the brother’s attempts to restore order and justice in the town.
PRICE OF DEATH presents Garko as a private eye type hired to prove Klaus Kinski’s character innocent of a robbery/murder before the hanging. A not so nice person, Kinski’s trial is obviously a railroading from the start. Someone wants him out of the way.
Though Garko’s character is Mister Silver, his dress and manner is reminiscent of his more famous Sartana.
Which brings us to the other three films in the set.
SARTANA IN THE VALLEY OF DEATH
This seemed to be one of those films where they just slipped Sartana into the title. Though the main character dressed like Sartana, he is an outlaw named Lee Galloway betrayed by his partners, three brothers, and their battles across Death Valley over the stolen gold.
An average western.
ONE DAMNED DAY AT DAWN, DJANGO MEETS SARTANA and DJANGO AND SARTANA ARE COMING…IT’S THE END are the last two films in the set. The same two actors played the title roles. In the first, no name is mentioned for the Sartana character, let alone Sartana. He’s a young fellow, the new Sheriff of Black City, dressed in a foppish manner. Django teams up with him to wipe out two allied outlaw gangs terrorizing the town.
A decent western.
The second title is the weakest of the set. Though the same actor, this Sartana is completely different. Though made the same year as the first, he looks much older and wears regular range clothes.
The outlaw leader is a little over the top, hamming it up outrageously, playing poker with himself in front of a mirror and arguing at the same time. The movie featured a lot of fist fights before guns were brought into play.
A weak film.
The group as a whole isn’t bad. One terrible film, one average, and eight pretty good westerns in a modestly priced set from Amazon. If one likes the spaghetti genre, it’s worth checking out.
One last thing. The titles in this post all came from the packaging. While dubbed in English, the prints have all credits in foreign languages: Italian and German I think.