Lee Van Cleef stars as Billy Joe Cudlip, an aging outlaw, in this 1968 western along with Antonio Sabato as Ben Novack, a young mining engineer fresh from Europe, and a beardless, almost unrecognizable Bud Spencer as mine manager James Cooper.
Novack is accompanying a mine payroll to his new job in Silver City. The payroll is padlocked in a box built under the stage coach seat. it is stolen by a trio of rogues(Cudlip, Preacher(Lionel Stander), and Eustaccio(Herbert Fux)) in an elaborate scheme that gets it stolen without anyone’s knowledge.
Cudlip, the outside man, picks up the dropped satchel and is on his way when he loses his horse(this scene is not shown). Next we see him hiding the loot and shortly stopping Novack who’d taken a horse and went back over the route when the theft is discovered. Intent on stealing the horse, he ends up riding back to town with the young fellow, befriending him and taking up for him when the miners are upset about the theft.
The movie is a decent western. I’d give it a B-.
The story shows the transformation of Cudlip from a scruffy, two bit thief to the town sheriff, albeit a bit reluctantly at first. It could have addressed the changes a little more and made a much better movie. But it’s not bad.
Cudlip’s two partners, like him, are getting older, all near the end of their productive lives as thieves. They are more reluctant to go honest.
A second theft is planned, the replacement payroll, and Cudlip accompanies Novack and the sheriff as a guard when he learns his young friend is going. Their robbery is interrupted by a large gang attacking. Everyone combines forces to stop this one and they all wind up heroes, much to Preacher and Eustaccio’s disgust.
The gang is lead by a black clad Burton(Gordon Mitchell) and his new plan is to steal the silver from the warehouse in town. With that in mind, they ride in to a celebration, taking the women and children prisoner to force the town to turn over the silver bars, promising a dead woman or child every little bit the longer they delay.
Cudlip has to devise a plan to save the hostages and the silver, as well as avoiding his two partners.
I liked this one. It, as I said earlier, average as far as Van Cleef westerns go. I like spaghetti westerns, though, and enjoyed myself.