Drummer of Vengeance (Il giorno del giudizio) Review
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Drummer of Vengeance (Il Giorno del Giudizio) - View Database Page
The first of two westerns from 1971 directed by Mario Gariazzo, a former journalist and impresario, both starring American actor Ty Hardin. The other one, Acquasanta Joe, would be a spoof, more in line with the direction the genre was taking at the time; this one is a flashback-driven, violent revenge movie in the style of Corbucci and Leone. Hardin is a Yankee officer who's wife and son were murdered while he was far, too far away.
Among the ruins of his burned down house, Hardin discovers a little mechanical drummer that was one of his boys' favorite toys. He starts looking for the people responsible for the crime, winding up the toy while facing them. In other words: the drummer toy takes the place of the pocket watch used in For a Few dollars More: it puts the avenger in the right state of mind and also gives his opponents an indication as to why the man in black has chosen them. Gradually it becomes clear that his wife was a Cheyenne, and that there might have been racist motives involved.
No doubt this mechanical drummer is the best thing about the entire movie. There's a great scene with the avenger using the sound of the toy to drive a few opponents crazy, so they will leave their safe place and face him in the open. It's of course also the object that gave the international language version its title. The Italian title, which translates as Day of Judgment or Doomsday, refers to the behavior of the avenger who, disguised as an undertaker and a doomsayer, warns the townspeople for the ill-fated day. With this creepy device (which makes an awful lot of noise for such a small toy) and this solemn biblical atmosphere of doom and destruction, the movie seems to have it all to become a great blend of western and horror, but unfortunately it never really lives up to the expectations.
The first half hour, with a series of killings, preceded by the drummer toy, ending in a brief freeze frame after the victim has been shot, is grim and eerie. The opening scene, with Hardin walking through the ruins of the burned down house, could have been a flashback in Django. With an almost spectral hero using psychological warfare to terrify his victims there are also some similarities to Django the Bastard. Some of the casting is pretty offbeat, with Gordon Mitchell as a deputy and Craig Hill in a non-action role as the director of a travelling show. A detective element is added to the plot: the avenger goes undercover to find out who was the leader of the murder mob, while the sheriff, at his turn, is trying to find out who the stranger with the musical toy might be. This could've worked, but Hardin's disguises are ridiculous. His false beard and glasses turn him into some kind of sixties guru from a hippie movie. The cinematography is decent, but most action scenes are poorly staged; some scenes, like the wagon wheel torture or Hardin disguised as an Indian seem promising, but go on too long.
# Different versions
The original version, released in 1971, seems lost. The longest versions available have a running time of about 90 minutes, but various versions have several scenes in different order. The Italian DVD begins with the scene of Ty Hardin coming back from the war and finding his house burned down and his family slaughtered. In some other versions, this is a flashback. In that case the film opens with Hardin saving Cianfriglia from the noose, only to be able to kill him himself. Some versions have a running time of no more than 74 minutes (1). The film was re-issued in 1974 under the English title (and presented as an American production) because there were rumours that Brazzi (who plays the sheriff) would appear in The Godfather as Don Corleone (2). The film's score is accredited to Claudio Tallino, but the lion's share was recuperated from Morricone's score for Corbucci's The Hellbenders.
- (1) DVD/VHS comparison, including some notes on the different versions: Giorno del giudizio, Il/Comparison VHS-DVD (deutsch)
- (2) For those who have been dozing for the last four decades or so, the role eventually went to Marlon Brando.
Cast: Ty Hardin, Rossano Brazzi, Craig Hill, Gordon Mitchell, Guido Lollobrigida, Edda Di Benedetto, Rosalba Neri, Andrew Robertson, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Bruno Corazzari, Ricardo Boido - Director: Mariano Gariazzo - Music: Claudio Tallino, Ennio Morricone (Uncr.)
One of the American actors who crossed the big water to star in spaghetti westerns, Ty Hardin probably is the one with the biggest nose. His biography consists of facts, rumors and fabrications. He also seems to suffer from amnesia. Let's start with some facts: he served the US Army in Korea and was accidently discovered by a talent scout when he attended a costume party dressed like a cowboy. He appeared in supporting roles in a couple of Hollywood movies, among them the western Last Train from Gun Hill. He got his big break when Clint Walker walked out on the TV series Cheyenne after one series and he was asked to 'take over' from him (he actually played his cousin Bronco Layne). Later he got his own show, Bronco
He made his first spaghetti western appearance in The Man from Cursed Valley (1963), in which he used the same fire arms Volonté would use in A Fistful of Dollars (1). He did a couple of other spaghetti westerns, but none of them was made by one of the great directors. He worked with Corbucci though, when the other Sergio took a break from his westerns with the thriller Bersaglio Mobile (1967). In the 1980 Hardin organized a militia group, called the Arizona Patriots. He also published a monthly magazine in which he wrote anti-US government articles. The FBI started an investigation, which finally resulted in a raid on the camp. A cache of weapons was confiscated and several group members were arrested. Hardin escaped to Costa Rica, a country with no extradition treaties. He later settled things with the US government and returned to his home country.
All this is suppressed on his own website. There's a small note on globalization though, with Ty telling cowboys to put a few guns aside, just in case, and the book he's working on, his auto-bio, is called 'Cowboy Armageddon'. Dear me. He says a lot of his past is a blur, calling it a sign of old age and dementia. We get a personal message in which he asks the film industry to stand up for the values that are sacred to the country, and the United States are called the greatest country in history. He also states that Sergio Leone and John Wayne were among his best friends. Sergio wanted him for A Fistful of Dollars (but he turned the offer down because the film was too violent, not a good example for young people), while John wanted him for Rio Bravo (but the part was already given to Ricky Nelson). It's possible that his name was mentioned in relation to Fistful, after all he was an American actor living in Europe, but there's no evidence that Sergio ever thought of hiring him. All reports of his friendship with John Wayne go back to his own website. I'm sure Ty is a loving husband to his wife and a loving grandfather to his grand children, but Pinocchio also seems to have a big rival.
- (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario Del Western All'Italiana
- Ty Hardin Website: http://tyhardin.net/AllAboutTyHardin.htm