One damned Day at Dawn ... Django meets Sartana Review

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Director: Demofilo Fidani - Cast: Hunt Powers (Jack Betts), Fabio Testi, Dino Strano, Benito Pacifico (Paco Sanchez), Celso Faria, Dan Reese (Attilio Dottesio), Roberto Danesi - Music: Lallo Gori

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Director Miles Deem (AKA Demofilo Fidani) delivers a tedious, overlong western opus with very little going for it. 82 minutes long, feels like 182. Handsome Fabio Testi is Ronson, the new sheriff of Black City. Ronson learns that the notorious gangster Willer and his cohort Sanchez are the de facto law in Black City; the townsfolk live in fear of their (modestly-staged) rampages. Meanwhile, the mysterious stranger Django (Hunt Powers) also arrives in town to settle an old score against Willer.

The setpiece of the movie is a fairly brilliant (compared to the rest of the pic) showdown at dawn between Django and Willer's men, which occurs maybe 2/3 of the way into the show. The two sides wordlessly face off in the town square as composer Lallo Gori's music swells to a passioned, foreboding crescendo. Credulity is strained, however, as Django fells all six men he faces before they get as much as a single shot off! For a moment, we see Fidani at what must be the height of his abilities -- a real, exciting Spaghetti Western standoff. Fidani obviously liked the scene, as he re-stages it again at the climax, with Ronson facing Sanchez in the almost-exact same fashion. Second time around, not so great.


Otherwise, the flick pads out its running time with several lengthy, pointless hand-to-hand rumbles, which are neither exciting nor essential to the story. Also filling the time is an extended, narrated "flashback" of how Willer and Sanchez met during a bank heist. This sequence plays out over about 10 minutes, and is so protracted that you will forget you are in a flashback. (I sure did.) And as for Sartana? The very last line of dialogue in the picture has Ronson admitting to Django that he is "known as Sartana in some parts". What was the point of that?

Dino Strano as Willer is effortlessly menacing in a cool way, mostly playing things grim but occasionally breaking into a cackling, taunting laugh. Powers is a miserable Django, with little charisma and tons of pancake makeup on his creased, craggly face. The likable Testi is frankly not given much to do rather than look exasperated. He has proved himself an able protagonist in several other genre films, but here he is basically a tall guy that looks good in a cowboy outfit.

The production betrays its modest budget by boasting a tiny cast playing the story out in cramped, cheap-looking sets. The town square is forever dark and muddy, which may have been a choice by the filmmakers or may just mean they couldn't afford to wait for the sun to come out, to begin filming. The overall cheapness makes the score by Coriolano (Lallo) Gori seem that much richer and full-throated in comparison. Gori, as usual, delivers a fine, robust series of cues.

This is one of about a half-dozen flicks that Fidani cranked out with pretty much the same cast and behind-the-camera personnel. Of that bunch, none are great, and ONE DAMNED DAY may well be the least of them.

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--By Bawtyshouse

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