As usual with westerns in the spaghetti genre, this film had a variety of titles depending on the market. In the U.S. alone, it had four different ones(presuming theatrical release, VHS, and DVD. KILL OR DIE, KILL OR BE KILLED. RINGO AGAINST JOHNNY COLT, and GOD HOLDS THE BULLET. The print I watched on Youtube was the second, though the tilte on the film was the Italian.
It’s a story of two families feuding, not a terribly original plot, but serviceable for what followed.
The movie opens with a funeral procession being interrupted, a gang of men appearing atop a ridge and peppering the coffin on a wagon full og bullet holes. The entire party scatters but for one young woman. Lisa Drummand(Elina De Witt) is burying her father, supposedly killed in an accident. The shooters are led by Chester Griffith(Alberto Farnese, billed as Albert Farley). The Griifiths don’t like the Drummonds, except Chester wants to marry Lisa, who wants nothing to do with her. Chester has already killed off two suitors and let it be known that it was hands off where Lisa was concerned.
The stage is set when a mysterious man(Rod Dana, billed as Robert Mark) rides into town riffing on Clint Eastwood down to the poncho. But he doesn’t wear a gun or carry a rifle in a boot on his saddle. He totes and plays a violin for donations. The only name he gives is Jerry. He runs afoul of the youngest Griffith, a spoiled young man named Spot(Fabrizio Moroni), drunk in the saloon with three Griffith hands. He demands that the fiddle player keep going until he decides he’s heard enough. A fight breaks out and Jerry is holding his own, even to cramming his fists into heavy glass mugs and using them as boxing gloves. Doing well until one of the hands picks up a gun, Jerry snatches one out of a nearby holster and kills the man.
The Sheriff(spaghetti western veteran Andrea Bosic) witnesses it all witness it all and tells Jerry he should leave town. Jerry makes it as far as the Drummand ranch where he stays to help out. In addition to Lisa, family members, Cousin Steve(Tony Rogers) and Granny, an irascible suspicious old woman.
The head of the Griffith clan, Jonathan(Furio Meniconi, billed as Men Fury) is furious that his favored son and three hands could do no more against Jerry than get one of them killed. He sends Spot and four men back to town to kill the stranger. All it does is get them killed, Spot as he’s sent home, snatching up a gun.
Old Jonathan is really pissed now and tells everyone to keep it away from Chester, afriad he might lose him as well. He hires a black clad killer(Gordon Mitchell, another spaghetti vet) to kill Jerry. Tall and skinny, we’ve already seen a wanted poster for a “Black Slim.” But depending which spot yoy look, the character is named Baltimore Joe or Ringo. Ten grand to kill Joe. Mitchell only gets two brief scenes where he gets his ass kicked by Jerry and shot full of holes by the same. The Ringo name comes from the Sheriff identifying him as such. I’ll get to the reason in a bit.
The finale is set when Jerry is being escorted, voluntarily, out of town by a pair of deputies. Chester, after agreeing to the Sheriff just to let him go, ambushes the trio with his men, saving Jerry for some special torture. He leaves hin, after a beating, buried up to hid neck. An old desert rat, out hunting, finds and rescues him, nursing him back to health, all the while keeping his ears open in town.
Jerry is accused of murdering the deputies and five thousand is put on his head.
Meanwhile, Chester plays the innocent, puts his best on for Lisa, and convinces her to marry him. She, tired of all the violence, thinks it the best she can do. Chester’s plan is to get all the Drummands together for the wedding and murder them all right after. “Lisa can remain in mourning the rest of her life!”
Things never work out as planned though.
The Sheriff had finally figured out whi Jerry really was, the man known as Ringo. Tired of all the killing, he wanted to leave it all behind. The Sheriff helps out by identifying the body of Baltimore Joe as Ringo.
Tanio Boccia was a serviceable, if uninspired director. A mediocre script doesn’t help matters. Obviously an attempt to play off the popularity of the pair of Ringo folms starring Giuliano Gemma, Rod Dana was a decent actor, though never rising to the level of the better known Gemma.
Give it a C, one maybe only for spaghetti western purists. I’m one of those.