I am Sartana, your Angel of Death Review

From The Spaghetti Western Database


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A bank that was thought to be impenetrable is robbed by a man wearing the trademark Sartana cloak. Our black-clad hero soon has a price on his head and must try to proof his innocence with the help of his shabby friend Buddy Ben

Dir: Giuliano Carnimeo - Cast: Gianni Garko, Frank Wolff, Klaus Kinski, Gordon Mitchell, Ettore Manni, Sal Borghese, José Torres, Renato Baldini, Federico Boido, Tullio Altamura, Franco Pesce, John Bartha, Celso Faria - Music: Vasco & Mancuso

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Our bounty hunters are the best! With these words, the North Western Bank is trying to convince its clients that their money is safe.

When a bank is secured with the help of bounty hunters, it takes a special man to rob it: Sartana! In an ambiguous and outrageous opening scene, the bank is robbed by a gang of desperadoes wearing the same outfit as the bounty hunters hired to defend it. Their leader, dressed in a cloak, enters the bank to collect the reward for an outlaw he has killed. Is this leader really Sartana? Of course he’s not, but the hoax is so effective that a reward is put on his head. Soon bounty hunters from all corners of the West are on his trail. Alarmed, Sartana starts investigating the case with the help of a friend, a man with a dubious background called Buddy Ben. The trail leads to the City of Poker Falls, where everybody’s working in the gambling business …


Not counting Alberto Cardone’s Blood at Sundown, in which Garko plays a villain called Sartana, this is the second Sartana movie, following Gianfranco Parolini’s If you meet Sartana, Pray for your Death. Carnimeo took over direction after Parolini had stepped back due to a series of conflicts with the producers Aldo Addobbati and Paolo Moffa. As a result Garko got even more room to fill in his character. Instead of the spectral gunman from the first movie, Sartana is a more Houdini like illusionist here, still lethal, but a bit more down to earth. But the enigmata in relation to his origins and nature remain intact: he still has this ability to appear out of nothing, and in one particular scene he is shot at so many times, and by so many opponents, that only a ghost would survive a similar bullet rain.


The film seems to divide fans of the series. It’s rather episodic, especially during the first half, and with Sartana being an illusionist and Kinski playing a card sharp, it definitely suffers from an excess of card games (and tricks). It still has some of the sinister atmosphere and ferocious violence of Parolini’s movie, but the depiction of Poker Falls as a 19th Century Atlantic City and the idea of a bank hiring a group of killers who pro-actively (!) track down wanted men to avoid possible robberies, indicate the burlesque, gimmick-ridden way the movies were to take. Some fans didn’t like the idea of Sartana having an assistant. Of all Sartana movies this one is closest to a genuine detective story, and Carnimeo and his scriptwriters must have concluded that a true detective needs an assistant: Holmes had Watson, Poirot had Hastings, so Sartana got Buddy Ben (well-played by Frank Wolff).

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Like most Sartana movies, it has a very fine cast of genre regulars. Apart from Mitchell, Wollf & Kinski, there’s also Boido, Torres, Borghese, Faria, Manni, Pesce, Baldini, Bartha Altamura ... if you don’t know their names, you will recognize their faces. Kinski doesn't seem very interested (he throws away his gun in one scene, while walking off the set!), but he’s still fun as a bounty hunter addicted to gambling, interrupting a game of cards to shoot some bandits (with the price on their heads, he can pay his gambling debts!). Mitchell’s part, on the other hand, is too short to make a lasting impression. To me this is not Top Sartana, but it’s still a likable movie. What I didn’t like, was Giovanni Bergamini’s show-off camerawork. With their serpentine plots those Sartanas are hard enough to follow, the don’t need a camera making double Rittbergers to give you a headache.


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The SARTANA series:


--By Scherpschutter

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