Pray to God... Extra Page
From The Spaghetti Western Database
Mulargia or Fidani?
In his book, Marco Giusti states that he was told by Robert Woods that Fidani directed the movie; Woods seems to have confirmed this during a phone conversation with Phil H(ardcastle). However, forum member Stanton claims that Woods told a German SW fan on facebook that "Mulargia directed it and Fidani produced it." (1). Again according to Giusti, Fabio Piccioni, who co-wrote the screenplay, also states that Mulargia directed it. Editor Piera Bruni, on the other hand, claimed that he has never worked with Mulargia and Fidani himself said - in an interview with Nocturno - that he 'turned to directing' (after writing an infinite number of scripts) with a movie called Prega Dio... e scavati la fossa! (2).
Giusti himself has put forward an interesting theory: he says it's possible that it originally was Mulargia's movie, but that Fidani 'bought it' from him. Giusti uses the word 'comprare', meaning 'buy', and it's possible that some money was involved, after all Fidani produced the movie for Mila Cinematografica. According to Piccioni, Fidani also replaced the original producer Corrado Patara, who was only interested in the project because ... he wanted to get actress Cristina Penz into his bed.
Fidani apparently stepped into a project that had already been started up. Did he shoot any new scenes or did he only supervise the post-production? Fidani also has a small role in the movie with his daughter Simone appearing alongside him. Some have suggested that the ending was altered since it doesn't seem to fit the beginning, but if Fidani directed any material, it seems likely that he did the scenes with himself and his daughter. Most of their appearances are in the first twenty minutes of the movie, so instead the ending it might have been the beginning that was altered. Personally I think Giusti has a point; Fidani took over the movie from Mulargia, added a few scenes (directed by himself) and was responsible for the post-production. In the end it's as much a Fidani as a Mulargia movie.
In a PM Robert Woods told me he's no longer sure who did what:
"Thanks for questioning my once viable brain ... I believe that 'Prego Dio' was co-directed by Dimofilo & Edoardo...but I actually don't remember who got the final credit for it..."
- (1) Interview Nocturno (in Italian):
- (2) Both statements are made on the movie's forum thread.
The movie still lacks a good DVD release and until recently the best way to watch it was a version that went back to a Danish VHS release; it's fullscreen, has mediocre image quality and large Danish subs. To spoil the fun even further - and add to the confusion - it also has scenes in the wrong order. This is what forum member korano wrote about it:
"(...) at the 35 minute mark, the film jumps far ahead into a later portion of the film with characters already introduced who had not meant to be introduced. Then at 53 minutes, the film jumps back to the scene that should have been right after 34 minutes. The editors had accidentally mismatched the scenes! So if you find yourself with a copy of the film and it is not making sense, at the 35 minute mark, skip ahead to 53 minutes and watch freely till 70 minutes. Then search back and watch 35-53."
Recently a much better version popped up, a fandub with better image quality and a more pleasant aspect ratio of 1,85:1. The source is not known, probably TV or (pretty good) VHS. It has the scenes in the right order.
The Ending of Pray to God...
Note: This section contains *spoilers*
At first sight this movie tells a rather classic story about revenge and revolution. Woods' character Fernando wants revenge for his murdered relatives but he knows nothing will ever change in his country unless he can organize a people's revolution resulting in a social turnover. The theme of the two friends falling out (one of them an idealist loyal to the revolution, the other a money-hungry bandit) is also a familiar narrative element, but, as said, the ending seems to deny the film's outset.
Let's summarize the situation. After Cipriano (Cameron) has kidnapped Consuelo, Don Enrique refuses to pay the ransom money and threatens to slaughter an entire village of peones. To save the life of these innocent people, Fernando must turn against his former friend and try to liberate Consuelo. Don Enrique has already hanged several peones and Fernando is caught in a stranglehold. He chooses to liberate the girl in order to avoid a massacre, but is forced to kill his former friend in the process. So far so good, but when Fernando brings back the daughter to her father, we get an ending of the type 'all's well that ends well': Consuelo is reunited with her lover, Don Enrique releases the peones, Fernando is pardoned and gets permission to leave the premises ...
It sounds like a bad joke. What the movie needed, was a unhappy, redemptive ending, showing that there can be victory in defeat. Fernando's actions are of course a sacrifice: he has saved lives, but was forced to kill a friend and give up his thoughts of revenge and revolutionary aspirations. He has betrayed history - there will be no justice, no social turnover - but as a human being he is redeemed. What could have been more glorious than a scene with Fernando leaving the premises, being booed and humiliated by Don Enrique's men and the federales ... and then all of a sudden turning around: Vamos a matar, Fernando ... ? But instead he accepts the pardon and rides off into the Mexican sunset.
Artwork by Dicfish