Execution Movie Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Execution (1968) - See Database Page
This movie has a bad rap among genre fans, partly due to the fact that it was part of a popular collectors' item, a German Django box released by Koch media. The box also comprised 10.000 dollari per un massacro and Per 100.000 dollari ti ammazzo, both minor genre classics. Compared to these two movies Execution was a major let-down, but judged on its own merits, it's not that bad. The director, Domenico Paolella, had made one spaghetti western before, Hate for Hate, a rather straightforward affair about a man who is duped by a criminal business partner and is arrested in his place. The story of Execution is a bit similar - it's again about duplicity and again a person is taken for another one - but for his second western, Paolella envisaged a more experimental movie that was also supposed to breathe a political - anti-violence, anti-war - message (*1).
Clint Chips, a feared bounty hunter, is released from jail to hunt down a former partner, John Coler, who has a large prize on his head. He tracks Coler down, but both men are captured by Mexican bandits who are after the gold that Coler has embezzled. It turns out that this Coler is not the bandit John, but his identical brother Bill, a member of a traveling circus and a man with an impeccable reputation. Bill and Clint escape from the Mexicans and go looking for John Coler the bandit, who has taken refuge in a ghost town. The Mexicans are in hot pursuit and Bill's business partner Burt is also interested in the gold ...
This may sound like a plain-sailing scheme for a western movie, but the storytelling is rather chaotic and some scenes are risible. The strings of a guitar are shot through, but the body of the instrument (as well as the guitar player!) are not hit by the bullets. A protracted sequence (set on a stagecoach) seems to make no sense at all. The most interesting character, Mimmo Palmara's bounty hunter, is killed at the one hour point, leaving us with John Richardson in a dual role as the two brothers. Richardson was obviously chosen for his looks, not his acting skills. The split scene technique, which allowed Richardson to face himself in some scenes, is used to good effect, but like some have stated, Richardson even lacks chemistry with himself.
As a result of a deal with an Israeli co-producer, the film was partly shot in Israel. The Israeli locations - notably the ghost town and its surroundings - give the film a distinctive look and add to the strange, occasionally outlandish atmosphere. In the final moments the 'good Coler' throws away his guns in disgust while grieving over a friend and former business partner he was forced to kill. Otherwise the anti-violence message is not dwelled upon. Every now and then there are details that make you forget how silly - or simply average - the rest of the movie is. The Mexican bandit - looking like an overweight pirate - uses a flair to torture his victims (*). Most actions scenes are rather lame, but the final shootout, set in the saloon of the ghost town, is weird and fanciful: the 'good Collier' has aligned several rifles through holes in a ceiling, using ropes to trigger them, in order to give the bandits the impression that they're shot at from above by multiple opponents. It may sound a little absurd, but it's the kind of idea that made the spaghetti western genre so special.
Director: Domenico Paolella - Cast: John Richardson, Mimmo Palmara, Piero Vida, Franco Giornelli, Nestor Garay, Rita Klein, Romano Magnino, Lucio De Santis, Dalia Bresciani - Music: Lallo Gori
- (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
- (2) The weapon used by the Mexican pirate is a ball-and-chain-flail, a weapon developed in Germany in the late Middle Ages. It was derived from the agricultural tool of the same name (in German Flegel) by peasants. It is also referred to as chain-mace or morning star (from the German Morgenstern) although the latter term technically only applies to the rigid forms (that is those without a chain)