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Any Gun Can Play Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database


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This movie has a truly wonderful opening scene: Three men, looking like Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Franco Nero ride into town. They're evil gunmen - they're actually so evil that people quickly close their doors and windows. But someone is waiting for them, a bounty hunter dressed in black, called The Stranger. Three coffins are brought out of town by a gravedigger and suddenly the evil gunmen notice that the coffins are destined for them. The next moment ... well, see for yourself


The bounty hunter (Hilton) accidentally witnesses a train robbery, masterminded by the fourth outlaw he was trailing, a Mexican bandit called Monetero (Roland). The gang members fall out among themselves and the bounty hunter starts having second thoughts about killing Monetero. Instead of killing him, he saves his life when he’s arrested by the army, in the hope that the man will lead him to the stash of gold that was stolen during the robbery. They're joined by a treacherous bank employee (Byrnes) who is in possession of a part of the medallion that reveals the whereabouts of the treasure.


With three men vying for a hidden treasure and different parts of information - when pieced together - leading to the hiding place, the film rips off the famous premise of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (*1). It actually freely borrows from several illustrious predecessors, but it's all done with a wink of the eye and without any possible disrespect. The wonderful opening scene is one of the best in-jokes the genre has to offer. In spite of this spoofy opening and some tongue-in-cheek humour, the first half of the movie is still pretty violent, with a bloody assault on the train and some cynical behaviour of the bandits. It's only halfway through that the movie takes its comical turn with a hilarious fistfight between Byrnes and Hilton (in his underwear!). The script takes enough turns to keep your attention, even though Castellari has a tendency to over-elaborate the action sequences. A good example is a chase scene on a market place that begins well with some heavy punches launched, but ends up with Byrnes using trampolines to escape from his persecutors.


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Occasionally sliding off into silliness, the film remains enjoyable throughout, due to some great visual moments and excellent performances by the three leads. The part-of the ever-smiling, nearly immoral adventurer/bounty hunter fits Hilton like a glove and would provide him with a model for most of his later westerns. Roland turns in a fine, laconic performance as the sophisticated Mexican bandit and television actor Byrnes is a pleasant surprise as the white collar criminal with a fifties forelock. The original story was written by Romolo Guerrieri (Enzo G. Castellari’s uncle) but Enzo and his co-author Tito Carpi spiced the screenplay with a strong dose of irony and some slapstick. According to Enzo this movie marks the beginning of the comedy spaghetti – long before Barboni invented the Trinity formula (*2). It wasn’t really the first comedy western made in Italy, but he might still have a point: the slapstick elements are new and it seems likely that Enzo Barboni and the duo Hill & Spencer had this movie in mind when developing the Trinity formula.


Note:

  • 1) Apparently the magnificent Italian title (which reads as I go, I’ll kill (him) and I’ll return) was taken from a line spoken by Tuco in the Italian language version. See: Marco Giusti, Dizionario Del Western All'Italiana, and: Kevin Grant, Any Gun Can Play, p. 85. Kevin clearly preferred the English title ...
  • 2) He makes this statement in an interview added as an extra to the (Danish) Another World release of Keoma


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Edd "Kookie" Byrnes

Byrnes had become a star thanks to his role of 'Kookie' in the TV-series 77 Sunset Strip. It was his second spaghetti western. Byrnes claims that he directed his own scenes and even did the choreography of some of the action scenes. But he was dubbed (much to his discontent) by a voice actor on the English language track. Byrnes also drew Enzo’s attention to a novel called McCabe by Edmund Naughton. Enzo liked the novel, but thought he wasn’t the right man to direct the movie. The novel would eventually be adapted by Robert Altman (as McCabe & Mrs Miller) , but according to Enzo some of his later work – notably Keoma – is influenced by the original novel, as well as by Altman’s movie and Leonard Cohen’s score for it.


Director: Enzo G. Castellari - Cast: George Hilton, Gilbert Roland, Edd Byrnes, Stefania Careddu, Gerard Herter, Ignazio Spalla, José Torres, Ivano Stacciolo, Guglielmo Spoletini - Music: Francesco De Masi

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Simon Gelten
Simon Gelten is a long time contributor to the SWDb. "I'm not as old as Tom B. but I'm working on it. I hope to catch up with him by the end of the next decade.", he says. Simon saw all movies by Sergio Leone and several by Sergio Corbucci in cinema, most of the time in Eindhoven, the city where he was born. Currently, Simon is living in Turnhout, Belgium. Simon is active within the database as both Scherpschutter and his alter ego Tiratore Scelto.
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