Hate Thy Neighbor review

From The Spaghetti Western Database

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A minor spaghetti western by Ferdinando Baldi, the director of Preparati la bara! (Viva Django) and Blindman. The plot is a combination of the revenge theme and a treasure hunt story. The opening scene shows a man running through the main street of a western town, knocking on every door for help. He is hunted by a bandit called Gary Stevens who eventually shoots him in order to lay his hands on the map in his possession. The brother of the murdered man arrives in town short time later and discovers that Stevens has crossed the border with Mexico, to join his partner in crime, a landowner named Malone. Overcome by greed, and each in possession of a part of the info leading to the treasure, the two men have become rivals ...

Baldi was an educated man; he was an Arts Graduate with a BA in literature; his best movie, The Forgotten Pistolero is a western adaptation of the classic Greek play of Orestes. Hate Thy Neighbour features a western version of a mad Roman emperor, a dandy like landowner, living across the border, who likes to subject Mexican peons - his slaves - to gladiator games in which the participants must try to wound or kill each other with iron claws. The gladiator scenes are grim highlights in an otherwise only mildly entertaining movie that definitely works better in part than as a whole. Overall the revenge theme doesn't combine well with the treasure hunt plot. Spiros Focas' Ken Dakota is a rather bland hero and for most part we wonder what he's up to: Is he going to take revenge or is he just trying to get to the money? The explosive ending - Dakota and his partner (a very resourceful undertaker) using dynamite to blow the villains to hell - just falls out of the blue sky.

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The film has a nice credit sequence, with scenes of the movie shown as 'moving pictures' illustrating news paper articles. George Eastman and Horst Frank are a great pair of villains and their presence almost turns Focas (who is top-billed) into a supporting actor. In most spaghetti westerns the hero is tortured before the villains get their just desserts, but in this movie we get a villain torturing a villain when Eastman is hung upside down by Frank above a snake pit. It's an odd choice that makes the hero of the movie even more anonymous. Focas appeared in over 200 movies but only one western and obviously the genre was not his calling. His romance with Nicoletta Machiavelli isn't well-developed either; lovely Nicoletta looks bored as Aunt Peggy: she's supposed to look after her nephew while her husband is on the war path; the boy is one of those irritatingly cute spaghetti western kids and Nicoletta also has a different hair color which is not really flattering. But maybe it was a wig, after all her name in the movie is Peggy Savalas.


How to watch this movie: Wild East has released the movie on a Double Feature with Django, the Last Killer, also starring George Eastman. Koch Media released it as N°18 in their Italo Western series. Both offer fullscreen (4:3, 1,33:1 - the Koch cover says 1,37:1) versions but apparently the film was shot in 1,66:1 so not too much of the original image is missing. The Koch disc looks sharper, with brighter colors, but at Wild East you two movies for the price of one

Dir: Ferdinando Baldi - Cast: Spiros Focás, George Eastman, Horst Frank, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Ivy Holzer, Roberto Risso, Paolo Magalotti, Franco Fantasia - Music: Robby Poitevin; song "Two friends" sung by Raoul

Simon Gelten
Simon Gelten is a long time contributor to the SWDb. "I'm not as old as Tom B. but I'm working on it. I hope to catch up with him by the end of the next decade.", he says. Simon saw all movies by Sergio Leone and several by Sergio Corbucci in cinema, most of the time in Eindhoven, the city where he was born. Currently, Simon is living in Turnhout, Belgium. Simon is active within the database as both Scherpschutter and his alter ego Tiratore Scelto.