TWICE A JUDAS, also released in the U.S. as They Were Called Graveyard, came as the spaghetti western genre was starting to wane. Less were being made each year and some were venturing into parody, the straight comedies still a year or two away. This one had Greek tragedy overtones with the story of a man who couldn’t remember and his efforts, being thwarted by some unknown person, being stalled.
Antonio Sabata wakes up next to a dead man, himself wounded by a glancing shot off his right temple. The vultures are about to move in when he grabs a rifle and drives theme away. Who is the dead man? Who is he? His memory gone from the gunshot wound, the only clue is a word carved into the butt of the rifle he holds: dingus.
He arrives in a town and stops in at a saloon for a drink, where a man calls him Luke. Well dressed, he wants to know where Donovan, the dead man, is. Not wanting to admit to no memory, “Luke” plays it cool and learns he’s taken money to kill his brother Victor. Barrett is the family name.
This is a mystery story. Who is Luke Barrett? Why does he want to kill his brother Victor? Who killed his partner Donovan and thought they’d done the same to him. Why did someone want Victor dead?
The man in the saloon lays out the plan. Luke is to walk right up to his brother, pull a pistol, and kill him. The other man has a rifle in a case, put together with a scope, and positions himself on a hill a couple of hundred yards away. He’s back-up.
The scene is a graveyard with a group of people standing around a tombstone draped with a Confederate battle flag. When Victor Barrett(Kinski) arrives, they are to take a vote on whether to keep their land or sell out to Northern bankers. Victor exhorts them to hold out, promising to help them. One man refuses, saying he barely broke even last year. Again, Victor promises to help like he did last year. The farmer says “you took half my land for that help!”
While that’s going on, Luke is walking up to the group and is spotted by the local doctor who recognizes him. At the last second, Luke pushes Victor out of the way and goes after the gunman on the hill, eventually killing him. Everyone says they thought he’d been killed in the war.
Klaus Kinski is somewhat restrained in the movie. He has perfected that semi-crazed lunatic he plays so well down to a science. Even with English dubbing in the many spaghetti westerns he made, that attitude shines through and we begin to get the idea he’s not the benevolent man he pretends to be. Check his eyes in the bottom most poster.
I will say the revelations in the final third of the movie of who Dingus was surprised me. They did the whole remembering thing in one long sequence near the end. It probably would have worked better piecemeal sprinkled throughout as I thought they started when he remembered a pregnant wife.
This movie has one of those weapons peculiar to spaghetti westerns, a portable cannon of sorts. Apparently designed by the Barrett father, it has a huge reinforced barrel with a flared openeing. We see Luke at the end pouring gunpowder down the barrel, then a bag full of miniballs on top of that. He fires it off to take down four horsemen at once. Only thing, we never see him tamp it down. No expert by any means, but I always thought loading as he did required it. Maybe I’m wrong. It’s slow to load, though, and he has to resort to a Winchester until he can gain time to use it again.