No Room To Die Film Review
No Room to Die is a spaghetti western in the best tradition of the genre: it's stylish, violent, brimming with action and also features two of the genre's most prolific stars, Anthony Steffen and William Berger. Unusual for a spaghetti western (not belonging to the Zapata type), the script also seems to reflect some social involvement: the villains in the movie are not simply money hungry bandits but unscrupulous traffickers who smuggle Mexican peons across the border. The Mexicans are looking for a better life, but once they're on the other side they are treated as slaves.
The main suspect is a notorious bandit called Santana but the trafficking goes on after his gang is wiped out by a bounty hunter, Brandon, so there must be a criminal mastermind pulling the strings. All evidence points at a corrupt businessman named Fargo, a local tyrant who has eliminated all opposition. Brandon proposes a partnership to another bounty hunter, a gun-toting priest named Murdoch. The two men team up, killing Fargo's henchmen by the dozens, but in the Italian West nobody can ever be trusted, not even a gun-toting priest ...
No Room to Die has all the right ingredients, but it's also a genre movie pure and simple that never rises above its own limitations. The premise about the Mexicans smuggled across the border only to be forced to do slave labor sounds interesting, but nothing in particular is done with it. The action is quite repetitive, basically it's one shootout leading to another - bang, bang you're all dead - until only the three leads are left and face each other in a three-way Mexican standoff. As usual, the action requires a high suspension of disbelief: gunmen fire endless series of bullets without reloading and Steffen pierces an opponent with a shovel simply by using it as a javelin! But that's of course all part of the spaghetti western show.
For a low-budget movie, entirely shot on Italian soil, the film looks great. Three cinematographers are mentioned in relation to the movie, but apparently it was Aristide Massaccesi (that's Joe D'Amato) who did the lion's share of the work (*1). His camera is constantly looking for cute angles and interesting compositions; even the sandpits look good in this one. Both lead actors are ideally cast as the two bounty hunters with contrasting styles and moralities; as more often, the a-moral one, is also the more interesting of the two (*2): Berger is a real show stealer here as the as the black-clad, Bible reading bounty hunter; his seven-barreled fantasy gun (well, is it a fantasy gun?) is one of those weird looking lethal toys for big boys the genre is famous for. I also liked Riccardo Garrone (the director's brother) as the calculating, cold-blooded Fargo. Nicoletta Machiavelli is eye candy as the angelic patroness of the peons, and her presence even softens the heart of the iciest killer in the business (note that final scene!).
- What looks like a fantasy gun looks is in fact very similar to a so-called Nock Gun, a seven-barreled firearm used during the Napoleontic Wars, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nock_gun
- Halfway through the production, Director Garrone ran out of money and ... film stock. He went to a nearby set, where a colleague was shooting a movie, and rented two strips to finish his work
- (1) According to Thomas Weisser (quoted by Giusti) Garrone was forced to replace his own man, Sandro Mancori, by Franco Villa; not satisfied with Villa's work, he asked Massaccesi to finish the movie and reshoot some of the material, see Marco Giusti, Dizionario del Western all'italiana, p. 278
- (2) Kevin Grant, Any Gun Can Play, p. 75
Director: Sergio Garrone - Cast: Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Riccardo Garrone, Mario Brega, Mariangela Giordano, Franco Ukmar, Giancarlo Sisti, Gilberto Galimberti, Emilio Messina, Amedeo Timpani, Sandro Scarchilli, Renzo Pevarello, Roberto Messina, Bruno Arié - Music: Vasco & Mancuso