Actor Jeffrey Hunter is best known for three roles: John Wayne’s sidekick in THE SEARCHERS, Jesus Christ in KING OF KINGS, and Christopher Pike, the Captain of the Enterprise in the first STAR TREK pilot(oh, how history might have been different if he hadn’t turned down the second pilot, thus bringing on the Shat as James T. Kirk.
Hunter is pretty effective as Joe Collins, ex-army officer(courtmartialed, but we never learn why), now a gunrunner. His first appearance in the film is a bit of irony, Collins sloppy drunk in a saloon and intent on getting further in his cups. Hunter’s once promising career had spiraled down because of his drinking problems. The next year he died from a skull fracture in a fall after a stroke.
French actress Pascale Petit(best known for a string of B-movies in Italy and France) is Lisa Martin, the wife of geologist Paul Martin(Piero Lulli, billed as Peter Lull). The couple had found a gold mine and built up a fortune before they were attacked(at the film’s beginning) by members of the local bandit king, Chato(Mario Darninelli, billed as Darlo Darnel). The couple manage to kill them all with a few sticks of dynamite, though that causes a rock slide that pins Paul under a wagon. Unable t get him out, she goes to a small hamlet nearby looking for help.
It’s in a saloon where she finds Joe Collins and seeks him out because she doesn’t speak Spanish and he looks American. Collins doesn’t want to help her and only gets involved when some of the other drinkers grab her for the money she mentions out loud, $2,000 in gold, and the fact that she’s very attractive. A fight breaks out that Collins is losing until another man steps in. Gomez(Giovanni Pallavicino, billed as, stay with me here, Gianni Pallavicino, billed as Gordon York), an older Mexican.
He convinces Collins to help Mrs. Martin, with an eye for both the gold and the lady(“You can have her, all I want is the gold!”) They decide it’s two big a job for two bastards, we need two more bastards. They use that word quite a bit.
It’s a motley crew gathered together for the expedition. Collins and Gomez, a pimp/gunslinger named Paco(Reza Fazeli), the paramour, and real life husband, of the saloon singer, Juanita(Daniela Giordano), and Fernando(strong as a bull and twice as stupid). Along the way. they pick up a preacher, the Reverend Riley(Adolpho Lastretti, billed as Peter Lastrett), who’s immediately suspect. He carries a gun and we catch him eyeing the beautiful Mrs. Martin. He later cops a fell under the guise of comforting her for which he gets a resounding slap to the face. He claims to have some medical training and also seems to have some talent as a torturer. In a scene with Gomez, he avows a wish for his turn with the woman.
FIND A PLACE TO DIE’s release in Holland was accompanied with the tagline a modern action movie with a dash of eroticism! There indeed was a scene with Mrs. Martin bathing in ariver, sitting on a rock nude from the waist up(from behind, drat) while being spied on by Fernando who, overcome by lust, tries to grab her and brings Collins on the run because of her screams. A testosterone fueled fight between the two men follows.
While trying to thank Collins for saving her “honor,” he admits only two things brought all of them together to help her: the gold mine and her! She still professes trust in him though.
There’s double crosses all through this film. Gomez is actually working with Chato to find where Collins hid the rest of his weapons and ammunition. He wants them to keep his bad ass image in the region. But Gomez works only for himself.
Once they get to the mine, they find Paul Martin no longer pinned under a wagon, but staked out, dead after being tortured, and the gold gone. Chato has taken over the small town, where Gomez slips away and joins him, slaughtered most of it’s inhabitants, and that’s where the finale is staged.
This spaghetti western has a different look from most in the genre. There’s a lot of greenery and religious ruins. Manziani, North-east of Rome, stood in for the Mexican town/hideout of Chato. There were no town scenes at all in this movie, the interiro of the saloon staged amid one of the religious ruins.
This was quite good, though reviews on IMDb give it everything from utter dreck to middling to top notch. Giuliano Carnimeo(billed as Anthony Ascott) is listed as the only director, but it’s generally acknowledged he was supervised by Hugo Fregonese(who some say directed most of the scenes anyway). Said to be a remake of a 1954 American western, GARDEN OF EVIL, a very loose remake. Never seen that film that I can recall. The music score was by Gianni Ferrio and works for this slightly laid back action film. Nice theme song, in Italian of course, below: