Kill them all and come back alone Review (Scherpschutter)

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The most concise description of this movie was provided by a SWDB forum member called Reverend Danite:

Bang crash, bang wallop, biff bosh bash - wallop wallop, kap-ow ping, boof aghhh BANG!

If the (great) title didn't tell you what this film is about, the description most probably did. It's about action and action alone. It all starts with the longest pre-credits sequence in the history of the spaghetti western (yes, even longer than the pantomime of Once upon a Time in the West), a fourteen minute action sequence in which the protagonists are presented one by one: Hoagy, the gunslinger, Deker, the dynamite expert, Blade, the knife thrower, Kid, the baby faced killer, Hogard, the muscle man, and of course McKay, their leader. They're a squad and the fourteen minutes of action were a sort of endurance test to prove their abilities to the people who are willing to pay for their services: the Confederate Army. The six are selected for a dangerous operation behind enemy lines in Civil War time: they're asked to steal a shipment of gold from a Yankee fortress. To complicate things the gold is stored in the powder magazine. The Southern officer who masterminded the plan, tells McKay that he'll be the only one who will be rewarded for the job. And what about the others? Well the order Mckay receives, is clear:

"Kill them all and come back alone".

With its non-stop wholesale action, and victims making pirouettes or summersaults during the shootouts and fisticuffs, the movie seems to herald the Trinity formula, but the action is still of a rather ugly nature. Overall the atmosphere is quite nasty, especially in the final third, when greed and double-crossings lead to hostilities among the squad members. Director Enzo G. Castellari hardly wastes a second of the 96 minutes of running time, throwing in fisticuffs, gunfights, gun battles, fist battles, explosions (and an occasional game of arms wrestling too, a favorite pastime of the director, who used to challenge muscled actors before signing them!). The script has a few nice twists, but most hints at story-telling dissipate in the endless blasts and bangs. Even some loyal fans of the genre have complained about the lack of substance. All credibility is thrown overboard during the assault of the fortress, when the squad exterminates an entire Northern regiment without one of them getting more than a scratch or a bruise!


Chuck Connors had been a former professional baseball player (Brooklyn Dodgers) and basketball player (Boston Celtics) who had become a star in the series The Rifleman. With his tall, muscular stature, shriveled face and shiny white teeth he seemed an ideal actor for the genre, but apparently he was recovering from a surgery and had to be doubled in many action scenes. Frank Wolff easily steals the film from him as captain Lynch, a particularly despicable character, who double-crosses everybody. Cianfriglia and Dell'Acqua were both professional stuntmen before they turned to acting and really are in their element here. Like Anchoriz they're both also familiar spaghetti western faces, unlike Pasolini actor Citti and former Spanish champion free-style wrestling, Hercules Cortes. It was Citti's second second spaghetti western (after Requiescant, in which he appeared alongside Pasolini himself) and Cortes' first: he foreshadows Bud Spencer's Bambino, but his thespian talents were so limited that several of his scenes had to be rewritten on the set.

Kill them all and come back alone is a boisterous, over the top action movie, often verging on the absurd. The Dirty Dozen was the obvious source of inspiration, but one sequence with a punishment hut in which men are steamed seems to have its origins in The Bridge on the River Kwai. Set during the Civil War, there are (of course) also a couple of references to The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (like Frank Wollf's Confederate officer all of a sudden commanding a Union prison camp!). I won't say it's great, but it's immensely entertaining and sometimes a brainless action movie is all you need. Alejandro Ulloa's cinematography is a plus, and so is Francesco de Masi's score. The wonderful title became popular in Italian football stadiums and was finally adopted as a war-cry by the fans of AS Napoli.

Dir: Enzo G. Castellari - Cast: Chuck Connors, Frank Wolff, Franco Citti, Leo Anchóriz, Giovanni Cianfriglia, Alberto dell'Acqua, Hércules Cortés, Furio Meniconi, Antonio Molino Rojo, John Bartha, Sergio Citti - Story: Tito Carpi, Cinematography: Alejandro Ulloa - Music: Francesco De Masi

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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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