Gunman of One Hundred Crosses Review
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Gunman for One Hundred Crosses - See Database page
The first of two spaghetti westerns (the other one being Black Killer) written and directed by Carlo Croccolo, a comedian who had become a household name in Italy thanks to his work for TV and appearances next to legendary comedians like Totò and Peppino De Filippo. He had 'discovered' the western genre when playing a minor part in Freddy und das Lied der Prärie, a star vehicle for German/Austrian Schlagersänger Freddy Quinn. He liked westerns and his dream was to direct one himself, but no one seemed willing to finance his plans. He then asked Tony Kendall to appear in his movie in exchange for a few paintings and Tony couldn't say no to a good friend ... (*1)
First surprise: there are a couple of scenes that flirt with slapstick, but it's not a comedy. It's a full-blooded revenge western with a series of twists. Croccolo knew his classics and even took some inspiration from Hollywood westerns, notably Johnny Guitar: the movie features a red-headed heroin and a black-clad villainess, a formidable dominatrix who uses her a whip to flagellate and humiliate her opponents.
Tony Kendall is a ex-Confederate officer, known by the name of Santana (*2), who is looking for the traitor who was responsible for the death of many Confederate soldiers. Santana accidently witnesses how a young man is ambushed and murdered by two crooks and later discovers that the boy's sister, the red-headed Jessica, is to be married to the man who had ordered the killing. And of course this man is the traitor he was looking for ...
The film was shot within a couple of weeks on no more than a handful of locations, but cinematographer Franco Villa made the very best of them. The title is nonsense: Croccolo didn't even have one hundred extras, let alone one hundred crosses to mark their graves. In other words: it's a no-budget rather than a low-budget movie, but - second surprise - it's not that bad. Tony Kendall was more at ease in the tongue-in-cheek Kommissar X movies, but he's an affable spaghetti western hero and Mimmo Palmara is quite good as the slimy traitor who is eventually betrayed by his own partner in crime, the whip-wielding Monica Miguel. There are nice cameos by Ray Saunders as a knife-throwing former slave and Marina Rabissi (Mrs. Croccolo at the time) as the red-headed damsel in distress. Croccolo himself plays a stammering and clumsy sheriff; his character seems completely out of place but his final scene ("Santana is coming! Santana is coming!") is quite funny. For most part the story-telling is a bit haphazard, with a few card games and the inevitable saloon brawl thrown in, but things pick up in the final third, with a few unexpected twists, a protracted shoot out at the villains' lair, a cat fight and a remarkably sexy (and for the genre rather daring) scene in which the black clad villainess undresses the heroine using her whip.
- (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del Western all'Italiana
- (2) He is called SaRtana in some versions,; in Germany he was called Django (what else)
Director: Carlo Croccolo - Cast: Tony Kendall (Santana), Marina Rabissi (Jessica), Mimmo Palmara (Frank Damon), Ray Saunders (Thomas), Monica Miguel (Whip-wielding villainess), Carlo Croccolo (Sheriff), Mariella Palmich, (Saloon girl), Benito Pacifico, Xiro Papas, Lydia Biondi, Carlo Boso, Roberto Danesi - Music: Marcello Minerbi