God Forgives, his Life is Mine review
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The first spaghetti western (of four) by director Paolo Bianchini. It stars Dean Reed, the Commie Cowboy who had become a mega star as an actor and singer in East Germany. Reed is Slim Corbett, a dandy gunslinger who’s hired by the residents of a small border town to put an end to the terror of marauding bandits. Both the baddies and the ladies fall for him: the baddies for his bullets, the ladies for his smile.
The script, by Fernando Di Leo, never rises above the ordinary but still manages to create some tension in relation to the trustworthiness of some of the characters. We soon understand that the well-dressed and hysterically laughing Don Luis de la Vega must be an evil mastermind, coordinating the stagecoach and bank robberies, but what about some of the others, like sheriff Lancaster or Judge Kincaid? In a spaghetti western, a dignitary is hardly ever dignified. The first half of the movie is fairly light-hearted and a bit low on excitement, but the action picks up in the second half, with a particularly nasty torture scene and a violent finale.
Some will no doubt dislike Reed for his political convictions and think he was a traitor. In his best-known spaghetti western, Adios Sabata, he was cast alongside Yul Brynner who never spoke a word to him on the set for this reason. In Dio li Crea Reed was more lucky: director Bianchini shared his his left-wing political ideas and shortly after the completion of the movie, the two men took part in an anti-Vietnam war protest - the first to be organized on Italian soil - and were both arrested by the police (*1). Reed had been an athlete and a stunt rider and the movie offers some fine examples of his skills as a horseman, notably a prolonged scene, set in forest, with Reed, tall in the saddle, zigzagging his way through the trees while shooting at his opponents.
The premise of the movie is similar to Peter Lee Lawrence’s 32 Calibre Killer and Reed works a little as a Peter Lee, but one who has the agility of a Giuliano Gemma: in one scene he tosses his gun over his shoulder in true Gemma style. It really is his show and the other actors get hardly any chance to shine, with the exception of Peter Martell who is overdoing things as the sadistic Don Luis, the Mexican villain with a deadly cane. The women are of course beautiful, but only used as window dressing. Featuring a well-dressed, smug-faced pistolero the movie seems to herald the Sartana & Sabata movies that would soon push the genre towards a more satirical approach. A villainous midget and a trio of ugly looking gunman add to the film’s grotesque look. The finale, set in Don Luis’ hacienda, was filmed in the familiar Villa Mussolini (of course an appropriate recluse for a villain) but the bulk of the movie was shot near Terrenia, Tuscany (South-west of Pisa), where a special western town (apparently no more than a corner) was built on the premises of the local Cosmopolitan Studios. I can’t think of any other spaghetti western shot in this Studio or western town (*2). It adds to the fun of this small but entertaining spaggie.
- (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
- (2) I was corrected on the forum by member Jonathan Corbett: "There are others, for instance Either All or Nothing, Heads or Tails, The Four Who Came to Kill Sartana and even El Puro (but not the final confrontation, that is Elios western town)."
Dir: Paolo Bianchini - Cast: Dean Reed, Pietro Martellanza, Piero Lulli, Agnès Spaak, Linda Veras, Ivano Staccioli, Fidel Gonzáles, Rossella Bergamonti, Bruno Arié - Music: Marcello Gigante