Django, the Last Killer Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Django, the Last Killer (See Database page)
Being a peaceful man, Ramon refuses to join some of his neighbours, who have decided to take up their arms and stand up against a tyrannical landowner named Barrett, but when his father is killed and his ranch burned down, he wants revenge. Ramon saves the life of a famous gunman, Raza (called Django in some versions), who becomes his mentor and teaches him everything he needs to know about the noble art of self defence (western style, so with the six shooter). Eventually Ramon is so quick on the draw that he is able to take revenge on Barrett, but he’ll also have to face his mentor in a duel ...
Giuseppe Vari is the director of several low-budget action movies which mainly rely on atmosphere and characterizations. L’Ultimo Killer is a bit similar to Giulio Petroni’s Death Rides a Horse and (especially) Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger, but the background is a conflict - not very common to the Italian western - between a big rancher and a group of small farmers, who are in danger of being chased from their homesteads. It’s interesting to see how Vari has given a typical Italian twist to the subject. Barrett and the revolting settlers act more like crime rings entangled in a vicious gang war than a landowner and a group of homesteaders who stand up against him. There’s no speech by one of the settlers glorifying the community or the growing nation (like in George Stevens' Shane). Funny detail: Barrett, the rancher, has a henchman who disputes his authority, as if he wants to take over his position as the local gang leader. In the historic reality it wouldn't have made any sense for a foreman to dispute the authority of the rancher he was working for.
It’s also interesting to notice that the lone gunman who rides into town is no Shane type of hero, that is: a noble man who comes to the rescue of defenceless people. He’s in fact closer to Shane’s opponent Wilson: he has been sent for by the main villain to do some vile killings. Raza/Django is also the one who gives shooting lessons to the poor and defenceless Ramon, and in this sense he seems to act like an American western hero, but again the context is radically different: in the traditional sense, the shooting lessons make the gunman redundant; in the end the farmer is able to defend himself; in the master-pupil western all’italiana, the ultimate goal of the shooting lessons is to turn the pupil into a killer, not a man who is able to defend himself, but a man who is able to take revenge.
L’Ultimo Killer is a nice little western, well-directed and well-acted, both Ghidra and Eastman are excellent. It’s also a good example of the flexibility of the genre, as it turns a typical American motive into something radically different, something typically Italian. Apart from Shane, there are shades from films like The Tin Star (Anhony Mann, 1957) or Man without a Star, (King Vidor, 1955), while Ghidra’s final speech, about the wall that will from now on separate Ramon from other men, even recalls the ending of The Gunfighter (Henry King, 1950). No doubt some viewers will be put off by the slow pace and the lack of action. Personally I prefer a few stylish action scenes to a lot of shootin’ around, and the action scenes in L’Ultimo Killer are stylish, but some of the dialogue is awful (the speech of Ramon’s dying father about the desolate state of the land before his arrival seems to be taken from a libretto of a third rate opera) and the film also suffers a little from its ulta-low budget. Basically it’s a two man show, filmed on no more than a handful of locations around the corner of the De Paolis studios. Vari makes the best of it, but he can’t prevent his movie from having a cheap look. Roberto Pregadio’s score is fine, but I agree with Shobary that the main theme is used a few times too often.
Director: Giuseppe Vari - Cast: George Eastman,, Daniele Vargas, Dana Ghia, Giuseppe Addobati, Mirko Ellis, Gianni Medici - Music: Roberto Pregadio