A Gun for One Hundred Graves Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
- Year: 1968
- Director: Umberto Lenzi
- Music: Angelo Francesco Lavagnino
- Cast: Peter Lee Lawrence, John Ireland, Piero Lulli, Floria Osuna, Eduardo Fajardo, Julio Pena, Raf Baldassare
Jim Slade, a conscientious objector conscripted into the Confederate Army, is sent to jail for his refusal to fight. When he returns home, he finds the murdered bodies of his family. With the help of his uncle, he learns the tricks of the gunfighter's trade and hunts down the men responsible. His path leads him to a town harassed by a gang of outlaws. After killing two of their men with the help of a gun toting preacher, Slade is appointed sheriff and must defend the town from the vengeful bandits. This becomes easier for Jim after he discovers their leader was one of his family's murderers.
Though heavily steeped in genre cliches and lapses of logic, Gun for One Hundred Graves turned out to be a very enjoyable experience. The film is often disliked and called boring but I found this to be the opposite. When the film isn't in the midst of a gunfight, it's always interesting with some very eccentric additions to the plot that keeps the interest level high. Not to mention the fact that the film rivals Vera Cruz (1954) for the most double and triple crosses in a western.
This film is a very simple revenge western. The earlier scenes that set up the story go by very quickly but are not completely brushed over. But some aspects, like Jim Slade learning to shoot, are brushed over completely. It definitely takes away from the viewer engagment factor but keeps things from slowing down. I found that the film had a certain amount of tension to it. You don't exactly know what the outlaws will do next or who can be trusted and the like. It's often like this in the Magnificent Seven style westerns. And thankfully, Lenzi throws enough action into the fray to stop any of the film's slower parts from being a problem. Or from letting the goofier aspects from overwhelming the film.
But of course, this Spaghetti is not without a fair share of problems. Mainly in the logic department. As we start the film off, we are in an office where Jim Slade is explaining his Jehovah's Witness beliefs and that he will not fight. That's all fine and dandy but he's in a uniform as he says this. Why would he bother even getting into a uniform let alone going to an army base if he has no intention to fight? And why would he want to learn to shoot a gun? Doesn't he know all the religious stuff on that? It doesn't make sense but it doesn't really have to. One other thing is that this film, like most shot in the Fistful of Dollars set, uses double action handguns for many shooting scenes. These shots are edited together with close ups of the real single action colts. But it's quite evident they're using double actions. The actors even fake fan their guns for reality. PLL is probably the most convinving actor I've seen who does this. This film along with Dead Men Ride, Matalo, Garringo, and many others use this gun trick.
The film also has a strong sense of Spaghetti style and atmosphere. As well as some scenes that are rather horror tinged. It is a Lenzi film after all. A major subplot has the town's makeshift insane asylum escaping and wreaking havoc on the town. These lunatics are of the most cliched variety. None of them speak any language except grins, grunts, and groans. And they pretty much all are laughing constantly at nothing. Eduardo Fajardo is especially good at this. Aside from the horror stuff, the film has many good Spaghetti moments. A condemned man is saved from the gallows only to be shot by the avenger. The action scenes are all well done in the traditional Spaghetti style, similar to the action in the Big Gundown, and two great duels; the second is the film's finale set in a cemetery. A great Spaghetti scene.
The acting is nothing special. John Ireland's facial expression doesn't change for the entire film. Peter Lee Lawrence is too baby faced to be taken as a badass cowboy. Only Piero Lulli and Eduardo Fajardo are memorable. The first as the confident and snaky outlaw leader. The latter as a stark raving mad ax murderer. That is about all that can be said about the cast.
This was Umberto Lenzi's last Classic Spaghetti Western. He had earlier directed two semi-western Zorro flicks. He moved to the classic period with Go for Broke, also starring Ireland. Here, he does a competent job. He definitely had a talent for action scenes as they're all pretty good here. But he isn't necessarily a good director of actors. He's more of the visual, viceral type director. He can direct a good scene and such but his actors never seemed anything above average.
The score by Angelo Francisco Lavagnino is rather subtle. He definitely had a different sound to his music as none of his scores seem completely what we expect from a Spaghetti Western. He uses lots of inobtrusive horns and flutes. It fits the film somewhat but isn't memorable at all.
I'd say this is a good enough Spaghetti to keep you entertained. No matter what people say, it isn't boring. But it is stylish, fun, entertaining, yet simple and flawed. But what Spaghetti Western is completely flawless?--Korano 01:09, 22 February 2010 (UTC)