There’s a number of versions of DEATH ON HIGH MOUNTAIN posted on Youtube. Varying lengths from an hour and twenty-three minutes to one hour and forty seven minutes. U.S. releases in the spaghetti genre tended to trim the original Italian versions probably to squeeze more showings per day in American theaters. The one I watched was apparently a partially restored version with a whole section at the end in Italian. I’ve seen it before. Restored scenes were never dubbed in English. The point at the end where the Italian clip begins was a break point. With the exclusion of the last scene, the ending was slightly changed. But not by much, The plot here is a hunt for three hundred thousand in cash, stolen by a Mexican gang led by a preening bandit, the self styled General Valente(Tano Cimarosa), wearing a preposterous, gold epaulet on the shoulders, jacket laden with medals. The man really behind the gang is a local businessman named Braddock(Antonio Gradoli). The money is then stolen by a young man of the area, Loring Vandervelt(Peter Lee Lawrence). There’s a mysterious stranger in town, Francis Parker(Luis Dávila, billed as Louis Dawson) that helps the young man and his sister Daphne(Agnès Spaak) out now and again, other times seeming to work at cross purposes. It’s not to much a plot heavy film, filmed with the obligatory saloon brawl that runs over long, inappropriate comedy bits with accompanying goofy music, way to many scenes seemingly thrown in just to get some action . Not one of the finer films in the genre. Fernando Cerchio(billed asFred Ringold directed this one from a script by Lorenzo Gicca Palli(dialogue and story) (as Enzo Gicca Palli), with screenplay by José Mallorquí (as José Mallorquí Figueroa) and Eduardo Manzanos Brochero. A middling example of the genre. The clip below is thr film version I watched and actually carried the Spanish title, the poster below the clip/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Qk3TnAA3Vk
Mickey Hargitay is Ringo Carson and Gordon Mitchell is Frank Sanders. Before the war they’d been friends and partners. The pair do jobs for money. They were hired by saloon owner Walcom(Amedeo Trilli, billed as Mike Moore) to rescue his daughter Jane(Milla Sannoner), being held for ransom by a group of Mexicans. It seems to be a regular occurrence as it’s mentioned this is the third attempt. When they hit the Mexican camp, Ringo, the better shot, provides cover fire while Sanders rescues Jane.
This sets up a triangle of sorts. Sanders is attracted to Jane, but she has her eye on Ringo. Dad doesn’t want to pay the agreed on fee, which Ringo had upped at the last moment and the two friends end up in a brief shoot-out, with Ringo and Chase shooting the guns out of their opponent’s hands.
The banker and the bad boy of the film, is Daniels(Ivano Staccioli, billed as John Heston). He forces Walcom to pay the two men. His thing is he’s after three pieces of land with gold on it that only he knows about.
Ringo and Chase end up fighting over the affections of Jane, Ringo winning, and the friendship ended. Chase rides off.
From that point, the film jumps a number of years to the last days of the war. Ringo and Jane had married, had a son(who looks about seven), and Ringo was sheriff of the town his father had founded. Mama Carson had reconciled(three years before the early events, she’d tossed him out for his money hungry ways). Now he was the only thing that kept Daniels at bay.
When Ringo forms a posse to go after marauding Rebs, he’s hurt rescuing a small boy from a burning house when a beam hits the back of his head. It costs him his sight. As he’s about to be killed, the Rebel leader, which happens to be old friend Frank Chase, stops them. They return him home where the doctor says his sight could return, possibly, after another head blow.
Chase, since Ringo is now blind, is offered the Sheriff’s job, which suits both Daniels and Walcom. Daniels still wants those three properties and Walcom wants his gun running to Mexico overlooked. Chase is given orders to get those three deeds.
But Mama Carson has her own plans. The other two land owners go into partnership with her, letting her hols the deeds to their land. She turns them over to Ringo who hides them, aided by his friend Tom(Spartaco Conversi, billed as Spean Convery).
Correct, His sight starts returning just in time for him to go a revenge jag. His son is missing(granddad is hiding him from Daniels and Chase. Jane is under arrest. And Ringo and Tom are off plotting a way to rescue them.
Gordon Mitchell’s Frank Chase is a complex character. He wants to be a bad boy, but, though it’s been years since they partnered, he still has affection for Ringo. Oh, he wants Jane and makes his play, but will not force himself on her. Though he goes after Ringo and Tom, he won’t kill them and shows his true colors in the finale of the film.
A few thoughts:
Not a bad film, but a couple of curiosities.
This was the early days of the spaghetti western genre(even before it acquired that umbrella title). They seemed not quite have a handle on westerns yet. Generally right, but in the fight scenes, they bad boys, all of them, had a tendency to fan the triggers on their six guns. It was odd seeing a dozen men in a scene all fanning their triggers.
Another scene had a saddled horse in the back ground playing. At least that’s what it looked like. Getting down and rolling in the dirt, jumping up, getting back down, all while the actors did their parts in the foreground.
Emimmo Salvi durected from a script by Ambrogio Moltoni and Salvi, story by by James Wilde. Don’t think I’ve run across any of them in other films.
The first thing I noticed when I started watching I WANT HIM DEAD was that it seemed far different from most in the spaghetti genre I’ve watched over the last few years. Everything about it was superior. Production values, costumes, the sets, the script. Far above the cheeziness found in the majority.
Don’t get me wrong. The cheese is part of the charm I’ve come to know and love.
This one was more on the level of the best of the genre: the Leones, the Carbuccis.
Craig Hill stars as Clayton, a man who wants to buy a ranch for his sister and himself. He’d been saving money for several years. One problem: it was Confederate currency. He becomes bent on revenge when he finds his sister Mercedes(Cristina Businari) raped and murdered, a tobacco pouch found lying by her side. A little investigation found it identified as belonging to a fellow named Jack Blood(José Manuel Martín). He and a friend had left just before Clayton arrived.
But that was only a subplot to the main one. Jack Blood worked for a businessman, Mallek(Andrea Bosic) who’d invested heavily in arms and ammunition. The Civil War was winding down and he’d gotten wind of a meeting between two generals, one from the north and one from the south, meeting to discuss terms for an armistice before Grant and Lee met. Mallek stood to lose a great deal of money should the war end before he could sell off his stock, estimated at a million dollars in rifles, ammunition, and heavy weapons. With that in mind, he was offering Blood and his team $50,000 to kill the generals and make both sides think the other was responsible.
Of cpurse along the way he gets several beatings, whipped, and lays waste to most of the gang. A fight over the $50,000 leaves money scattered along the trail, nortern dollars, and Clayton gets his four thousand.
A pretty good western. Carlos Sarabia wrote the script and it was directed by Paolo Bianchini.
I’m not sure about the title BLOOD AT SUNDOWN. There appears to be two films with that title and Anthony Steffen stars in both of them. Gianni Garko is co-starred in the other. I’m going with the alternate U.S. title for this one. It’s a film about two feuding families with the daughter of one loving the son of the other. Hmmm? That sounds familiar.
The McDougalls and the Lopezs are the two families. Andy McDougall(Armando Guarnieri, billed as Jack Warner) heads one and Lopez, no other name given(José Calvo, billed as Joseph Calvo) is the main man of the other. Some time in the past, years back, McDougall does something that puts Lopez in a wheelchair. He swore revenge.
Steffen is Steve McDougall who deserts the army when he learns his father Andy has been killed by the Lopez family. Tied to a tree and everyone who worked for Lopez puts one bullet into the helpless man. Seventeen including Lopez and his son Manuel.
Steve finds his sister Judy(Ida Galli, billed as Evelyn Stewart) and their uncle Sam(Franco Pesce, billed as Frank Campbell) at the family ranch.
We learn that Steve and Lopez’s daughter Pilar(Gemma Cuervo, billed as Jennifer Crowe) were once a thing. Both daddies hadn’t been happy about that.
This was a cheap jack production with a bunch of odd stuff. When Steve and Manuel had their gunfight in the street, stalking up to each other, the sound effects were obviously someone walking across a wooden floor instead of dirt. Bizarre. And Steve never fires a shot that he doesn’t hit somebody. In the climactic horseback chase, with Steve’s sister a prisoner, he’s firing from a galloping horse into the bunch, never a thought that he might hit her, but never missing.
About a C-.
This film, as seemed to be the case back then, had several American titles. Fifteen Scaffolds For The Killer(variant 15 Scaffolds) were the other two. The title comes from the two groups of men being pursued by a posse of almost every able bodied man in town.
It opens with a raid on a ranch for a large horse herd. Most of the hands are shot down in the raid, the rest in the chase. The bandits are lead by Sandy Cassel(George Martin) and the job is observed by a trio on a hill above. Billy Mack(Craig Hill) is the boss of that bunch. They’d been on the way to steal the herd themselves. Billy Mack observed that they would have left the owner alive.
Cassel and his gang sell the herd and then stop at a ranch for the night. It’s owned by a woman and her two daughters, all three attractive, the older girl getting married the next day. They ask for water and food, are offered the barn, and settle in. One man wants to play cards for the women, but Cassel puts a stop to it. Billy Mack and his two partners arrive at the ranch and trouble almost erupts. Mack and Cassel settle for their own kind of partnership. Mack will steal the horses and sell them, then Cassel can do the same.
They bed down for the night.
The next morning, early, the fiance arrives and we catch a glimpse of someone slipping out of a window. He finds the woman and her daughters strangled. The Fifteen are still asleep in the barn and the fiance returns to town to round up a posse. While that happens, Cassel and Mack find the dead women, figure one of them did the deed, then flee when the posse arrives.
That sets the scene for the rest of the film. Battles, the fifteen taking the town temporarily, then running with a hostage, Barbara Ferguson(Susy Anderson), wife of the preacher leading the posse with the sheriff.
They are finally run down at an old fort where some Mexican families are living and the battles continue.
There is also an older man who hangs on the fringes and has us wondering who he might be. He’s bought the ranch next to the dead women and seems highly interested in what’s happening.
The mystery is who is the killer, who the older man is, and will any of the fifteen survive. Oh, and Mrs. Ferguson seems to be falling for Mack.
Not a bad western.
He’s known only as Requiescant, Latin for Rest In Peace.
Lou Castel plays the odd man who remembers nothing about his past. We, though, see that he’s the only survivor of a massacre of a band of Mexicans by a group of Confederates late in the war, 1864, a small boy creased by a bullet across the top of his head. He’s found wandering by a traveling preacher and his wife and daughter and raised as a son.
And begins to build a reputation.
Quite by accident, he disrupts a stage hold-up right in the middle of a town, learning then of his abilities with a pistol, a good eye without any training, dispatching two of the robbers when he snatches a gun out of the air when the driver is killed, then later killing the two leaders, brothers, when they come after him. He gets the name Resquiescant because he makes the sign of the the cross and prays over every kill.
In the town where he finds the girl, Princy(Barbara Frey), she’s working as a prostitute, held prisoner by a man named Dean Light(Ferruccio Viotti). Requiescant goes to the big boss, George Ferguson(Mark Damon), who agrees to let the girl go. Though they never say it, an undercurrent surrounds Ferguson and Dean Light. One gets the distinct impression that Ferguson is a homosexual. He has a singular disdain for women, marrying only to get an heir, and has an affection for Light that goes beyond friendship. He even promises Light that “one day all this will be yours.”
Requiescant, with the help of an old Mexican mute who recognizes the scar on his head and knows who he is starts to remember the slaughter when he was a child. And also that Ferguson was the officer in charge that day.
That’s when all hell breaks loose. An old priest recruits him and helps bring down the murderers. Our hero plays a deadly game with Dean Light called Hangman’s Noose. Each man stands on a stool with a noose around his neck. At the stroke og midnight, they draw and try to shoot the stool from under the other man.
A much better film than I expected. Directed by Carlo Lizzani, the list of writers involved runs to eleven. Usually a bad sign. Not in this case though.
He witnesses a massacre and our hero takes it upon himself to do an investigation. It seems most of the small town of Indian Creek wants to buy up the property of the victims. It all looks rather strange to Sartana. One of those buyers could be the driving force behind the killings. Even the sheriff himself is not above suspicion. One thing I’ve noticed in most, though not all spaghettis, the law is usually as crooked as the criminals.
Sartana is left to uncover the culprits responsible, and why, all on his own.
It all starts to make sense when an old prospector named Joe Benson(Attilio Dottesio) is killed and several people try to get their hands on his land. Nuggets of gold found in the old man’s burnt down shack suggest that he may have hit the mother lode. A crooked banker and a Chinese saloon owner each will try to convince Benson’s niece, Abigail(Daniela Giordano), the old man’s only heir that the property is nothing more than acres of sand and therefore worth nothing. Sartana, Though as usual, Looks out for himself first of all decides to help the girl. Doing that involves playing everyone off against each other.
The excellent script is by Roberto Gianviti and Giovanni Simonelli and the direction is again by Giuliano Carnimeo, billed as Anthony Ascott.
A fine entry in the series.
IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH was the first of five official films to feature the character. there were a number of films that featured the fellow that were mere ripoffs riding the coattails of the franchise. Gianni Garko played him in four of the spaghetti westerns and George Hilton essayed the role in the third entry.
This opening film is loaded with veterans of the genre in Klaus Kinski(Morgan), Fernando Sancho(Jose Manuel Mendoza), and William Berger(Lasky) being the main ones. A few other sprinkled through in minor roles.
The plot involves an insurance swindle perpetrated by those folks in charge, a bank director, rich men, hiring a Mexican gang, Mendoza’s, to steal a strong-box, and an American gang, led by Lasky, to kill the Mexicans. A mysterious stranger, Sartana, steps into the middle of this fight, revolving around rival gangs, the town’s bigwigs and the search for the missing loot. The usual sorts of double crosses follow, Sartana making sure he comes out on top.
The name “Sartana” first appeared in the film Blood at Sundown (Mille dollari sul nero, 1967), in which Garko played an antagonist called El General Sartana, completely unrelated to the later film series. But it was noticed, the film’s success in Germany, known by the short title Sartana. Italian producer Aldo Addobbati noticed that and set up a production deal with a German producer in Italy. Garko was signed with a clause giving him script approval.
One of the best of the spaghetti genre.
The titular star is Giacomo Rossi-Stuart(billed as Jack Stuart) who plays Norman Sandel. He has the requisite good looks and blonde hair, but only minor acting skills. A bland, rather neutral expression on his face most of the time.
The standout is Dan Vadis as Ramon, the outlaw leader. He had the commanding presence thae Rossi-Stuart lacked to go with dark brooding looks.
As the film opens, Norman and his father are taking a break for lunch when they see a rider coming, slumped in his saddle. A neighbor, they get him down, only to have him killed by two other riders, masked, that managed to get on top of them without being seen. His dying breath mentions a Colonel Cook. The two killers are there to take Norman’s father with them and kill Norman. Norman gets them, but not before they kill his father.
Norman heads for town to find two of his father’s friends, Frank(Daniele Vargas, billed as Dan Vargas) and Logan(spaghetti veteran José Torres). They and his father served during the Civil War with Colonel Cook. The three men head to Cook’s home, Danger City, to find out what it was all about, picking up Dick Regan(Riccardo Garrone), a whiskry drummer whosr wagon had broke down and was then robbed by bandits while he hid. For me, he was suspicious from the start. He wore a short gun and was very good with it. We learn later he was more than just a drummer.
They arrive at Danger City only to find it apparently deserted. It’s not long before they learn it’s full of women and children. Ramon’s band had killed or taken prisoner all the men. When a young woman, Rosy(Rosy Zichel), Ramon’s girl friend who’d grown tired of his cruelty, arrives, they learn what’s up. Rumor had it that Cook had ten grand somewhere and Ramon wanted it. It went all the way back to the war. The townsmen, Cook included, he’d taken prisoner, were being tortured for information.
With Rosy’s help, Norman sneaks in and rescues Cook, who’s mind seems stuck in the Civil War.. They never make it clear whether he was already in that condition or it was the result of the torture inflicted on him. He refuses to tell them where the money might be, having promised Lee it would be used o buy arms for the South. Ramon wants the money and has promised to wipe out the town if he doesn’t get it.
The final sequence takes out most of the major players.
Not a terrible western. More than one reviewer noted that rookie director Giuseppe Vari might have done a better job with the script with a few more years of experience. That script, by the way, might have profited from another draft or two. It was by Sergio Garrone(as Willy Regan) and Vari.
As seems usual with films in the spaghetti western genre, multiple titles, depending on the release, was the norm. In the U.S., this one appeared under NO GRAVES ON BOOT HILL as well as the one heading the post. The director of this one was Sergio Garrone, the fifth Sergio to play the director role in a Euro western. His reputation seemed to vary among disparate reviewers. It was the second Garrone effort after The Outlaw Rider. It’s considered a minor gem in the genre by some, myself among them.
The three of the title are Jerry(Craig Hill), a lothario caught putting the moves on another man’ wife, Paco(Pietro Tordi, billed as Peter White), a sneak thief caught stealing a horse), and Reno(Giovanni Cianfriglia, billed as Ken Wood, a bounty hunter picked up after killing three men trying to do the same to him. Each time we see a bald headed priest making notes in a small book.
They are locked in a cell with a well-dressed young Mexican man plagued by nightmares. Francisco Ortega(Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia) is scheduled to hang for murdering a father protecting his daughter’s honor. Caught standing over them with a gun in his hand, he maintains his innocence. In a dream sequence we see them murdered, never catching who holds the gun. His father and lawyer deliver the bad news. Clemency has been denied and the hanging will go ahead in ten days.
Later that night the three find their cell door unlocked, no guards around. Each succeeding door is unlocked until the last one. A door to one side opens and when they come through find the boy’s father. lawyer, and the priest we kept seeing. They are offered a deal. Prove the boy’s innocence in time and thirty thousand will be theirs. A bank draft is handed over, but can only be used if innocence is proved. Jerry tears it into three parts, so no one will be tempted, and gives his two partners a piece.
But the real murderer doesn’t want to be found. An earlier investigator has already been murdered and the three have to deal with a rigged lunch party for horse thief Pabo, followed by a mexican gang out to kill them. Paco knows them and as the leader is dying says they were paid a thousand dollars to kill them.
Sergio Garrone wrote the story and co-wrote the screenplay with Franco Cobianchi. An excellent music score by Vasili Kojucharov (full name: Vasco Vassil Kojucharov) and Elsio Mancuso (as Vasco & Mancuso) filled out the movie.
A good one.