Durango is coming, pay or die Review

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This film is the middle part of a trilogy planned by production company Three Stars with muscle man Brad Harris. He would be Sartana in all three movies, but only two of the three movies were completed, and Harris was called Sabata in the first movie ( Wanted Sabata) and Durango in the second. The rights for the third movie were sold to another production company, Virginia Cinematografica. Their movie, Death is sweet from the soldier of God (aka Django.. Adiós) is said to be an assembly of re-edited scenes of the first two movies, with a couple of new scenes added.

Durango is Coming, Pay or Die still shows some traces of the original plans for a Sartana rip-off. The story is pretty convoluted, with lots of twists and turns, and in the end Durango is in possession of the gold. The film has a rich assortment of villains, ranging from the corrupt bank owner (called Ferguson, never a good sign in a spaghetti western), a well-dressed Mexican bandit and his noisy gang, and a Tuco style rascal, who sympathizes with anybody who has the upper hand in a certain situation. Like Sartana, Durango is a loner who accidently stumbles upon the shenanigans that are going on in the town of Tucson, and then starts playing an active part in them; but instead of keeping the gold to himself, like Sartana would do, he gives it back to the rightful owners.

Durango is by no means dressed like a Sartana; actually his costume (and some of the costumes of others) make this look like a pre-Leone movie. I even thought for a moment it was a pre-Leone movie: in an early scene Durango is asked by a young girl, a paragon of virtue and pure innocence to help her poor father ("Please, please, Mr. Durango"). The presence of muscle man Harris and the use of a grotto complex, often used as a background for peplum movies, also seemed to indicate an earlier production date, but maybe this is all coincidence. Like Silver Wolf has suggested in the film’s thread, the peplum influences are there because Harris had his biggest success in that genre and the three planned movies were targeted at his fans.

With Durango acting ruthlessly in one scene (he kills people with small debts without hesitation) and altruistically in others, this is a rather inconsistent movie. Ferguson has only two henchmen throughout the movie, but then suddenly disposes of an entire army for the shootout with the Mexicans. The action scenes are well-crafted and the film is enlivened by a flamboyant performance by José Torres as the talkative El Tuerdo, especially in the original language version in which he comes up with a very personal mix of Italian and Spanish. There are a few nice touches, like Durango teaming up with Mexican bandits to get even with a seemingly respectable American bandit (and killing the Mexicans afterwards!). Made in 1971, when Trinity and Bambino were kings, Durango is coming, Pay or Die is quite violent. The one thing the movie can’t overcome, is the performance by Harris, who not only looks like a massive rock, but also acts like one.

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Cast: Brad Harris, José Torres, Gisela Hahn, Gino Lavagetto, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Andrea Scotti, Gino Rini, Roberto Messina, Dir: Roberto Bianchi Montero - Music: Lallo Gori

--By Scherpschutter

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