His Name was King Review

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His Name was King review
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A spaghetti western of the violent kind, made in 1971, when this type was no longer king (because nearly everybody was making comedies in the style of Trinity). Like most late spaghettis of the violent type, this one fails to recreate the magic of the previous decade. At first glance it's all there: the violence, the hate, the Mexicans, the rednecks, the señoritas, the ... you name it. But there's no real enchantment. It may not be the worst movie of its kind you'll ever see - I've seen far worse - but the sparks won't fly.

Richard Harrison is a bounty hunter called John "King" Marley, who's looking for a group of criminal brothers, the Bensons, gun smugglers doing some dirty business with Mexican bandits. He kills one of the brothers but the three remaining Bensons respond by killing King's own brother and raping his sister-in-law (on their wedding day!). King leaves the traumatized woman in the custody of a friend, the sheriff of a border town, and starts tracking down the murderous trio. He also wants to find out who really is the criminal mastermind behind the gun trafficking ...

The first twenty minutes of the movie aren't great but they pass smoothly; the killing of the first Benson brother - played by Ricky Boido - is a highlight, but afterwards the film loses focus, with a story that is all over the place and characters behaving in a way that occasionally seems to make little sense. No wonder Vassili Karis later admitted in an interview that he had no idea if his character was supposed to be a deputy or not (*1). Klaus Kinski comes and goes and can't hide his boredom. It's also a mystery story, but Tom Betts wrote that "it's one of those plots where everyone knows who the villain is except the hero. Wise up man and kill the SOB." (*2) There are a few scattered action moments that look okay, but the repeated violence towards the female character give the whole thing a rather nasty smell. Luis Bacalov's score is excellent.



  • (1) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana


  • It's not completely clear who directed the movie. Officially Giancarlo Romitelli is credited but some people involved in the making of it, have stated that it was Renato Savino who was at the helm (See: Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana)
  • The film has a remarkably short running-time. Most versions - including the French DVD I watched - have a running time of a mere 73 minutes. Was it drastically cut or what happened? According to Anica.It (Associazione Nazionale Industrie Cinematografiche Audiovisive) the verified length is 2340 m. (equivalent to 85 minutes at 24fps). Taking the 4% PAL speedup into account, this would result in a running-time of a little under 82 minutes. In other words: about 9 minutes are missing.

Dir: Giancarlo Romitelli (or Renato Savino) - Cast: Richard Harrison, Klaus Kinski, Anne Puskin, Luciano Pigozzi, Goffredo Unger, Lorenzo Fineschi, Marco Zuanelli, Vassili Karis, Lucio Zarini, Tom Felleghy, John Bartha, Federico Boido - Music: Luis Bacalov

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.
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