A Colt in the Hands of the Devil Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Director: Gianfranco Baldanello - Cast: Robert Woods, William Berger, George Wang, Fiorella Mannoia, Attilio Dottesio, Nino Fuscagni, Giovanna Mainardi, Antonio Dimitri - Music: Piero Piccioni
The second collaboration of director Baldanello and star actor Robert Woods, not as successful as their first, Black Jack. Until recently it was one those obscure, little-known genre examples (the only available version was a rotten fullscreen VHS copy), but it was saved from oblivion with the release of the Italian DVD, which has excellent image quality, but only Italian audio and a running-time of no more than 72 minutes, which means about 18 minutes are missing. Unfortunately, it's a sort of detective western with an intricate plotline, and not a straightforward revenge movie.
The film opens with a scene set in a labor-camp. A prisoner, Roy Koster (Robert Woods), is threatened to be shot by a warden, but he is saved by another prisoner, an older man called Jeremy Scott. The old man dies soon afterwards, but whispers the name of Silver Town in Koster's ear in his dying moments. After his release, Koster travels to Silver Town only to discover that Scott was accused of the murder of both an older man and a small child. With the help of Scott’s children, Koster eventually manages to prove that the old man was innocent ...
According to those who've seen the uncut version, most cuts made are snippets of dialogue (the film is quite talkative, even in this cut form) throughout the movie, plus a couple of longer scenes, of about 90 seconds. I had the idea it would be a decent detective western in its uncut form, with a nice - if ultimately predictable - whodunit storyline. The older woman, who first warns Coster for the situation in Silver Town, is functioning more or less like the classical Fate from Greek or Scandinavian mythology, a goddess of destiny who has the power to decide over life and death (she'll play a decisive role in the film's finale). This idea would also be further developed in Keoma.
In this drastically cut form, the film is still is enjoyable, nothing special, but well-directed, hiding its reduced budget with a good choice of locations. The three leads do their job pretty well, William Berger looking like a poor man's Wild Bill Hickock, George Wang looking like an Easy Rider (without a motor) out West. The small western town (probably built for the movie) is a real gem. The movie's a bit short on action, but there's a protracted shootout near the end, and the finale - filmed in a sandpit - is quite unique, with an unarmed Woods facing the worst marksman in the West and a guest appearance of this goddess of destiny. In one, rather bizarre scene, Bobby Woods repeatedly slaps the actress playing Jeremy's daughter in the face. But in the next scene, he kisses her on the lips. A true gentleman, this Bobby.
This actress playing Jeremy's daughter, is the lovely redhead Fiorella Mannoia. Her name may not sound over-familiar outside Italy, but she's one of the most popular singers in her own country. Fiorella was born in 1954 and made her first film appearance at the age of thirteen, but not as an actress, but as a stunt double. Her father Luigi worked as a stunt double within the Italian film business, and at a very young age, Fiorella started working in the same area. She acted several times as a stand-in for Monica Vitti and was the stunt double for Candice Bergen in The Hunting Party.
In the early '70s she was offered a few minor roles in spaghetti westerns, but by this time, singing had already become her great passion. She debuted in the world of music in 1968, but only made her real breakthrough in 1987, when she won the San Remo festival and had her first N° 1 hit with Quello che le donne non dicono. Fiorella has devoted herself to social issues such as abortion, divorce and the rights of homosexuals, and is an active supporter of the aid association Emergency.