They call me Hallelujah Review (Scherpschutter)

From The Spaghetti Western Database


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Director Carnimeo and star Hilton push the genre one step further down the path of parody, introducing a new hero, Hallelujah. The movie is colorful and lively, off-the-wall, often pretty silly, but done with gusto and verve. And there's some real spaghettti western violence as well

Director: Giuliano Carnimeo - Cast: George Hilton, Charles Southwood, Agata Flori, Roberto Camardiel, Paolo Gozlino, Andrea Bosic, Linda Sini, Aldo Barberito, Federico Boido, Franco Pesce, Fortunato Arena, Aldo Berti, Luciano Rossi - Screenplay: Tito Carpi - Cinematography: Stelvio Massi - Music: Stelvio Cipriani

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This movie was the result of director Carnimeo’s personal ideas about the genre and George Hilton’s wish to have a character of his own. On the set of Sartana’s here… trade your Pistol for a Coffin, Carnimeo had discovered that Hilton fitted his ideas about Sartana better than Garko, but audiences simply identified Garko with the character (1). So for this new collaboration Hilton became Hallelujah, and Carnimeo pushed the movie further down the path of parody with a fake nun, false teeth, a dancing Cossack and a hero using outlandish weapons like laxatives, exploding buttons and a sewing machine gun. The Senger, not the song. Hallelujah! (*1)

The setting is Mexico during the Maximilian Uprising (1864-1867). George Hilton is an American mercenary knick-named Hallelujah who is asked, by a revolutionary 'general', to intercept a box containing jewels, sent to the US by Maximilian to buy guns (in order to put down the insurrection). The whole thing rapidly evolves into a caper movie when Hilton discovers that the jewels are false, and starts investigating who was the swindler, and who was duped. Of course more people are interested in the jewels, among them a villainous arm dealer, a group of killer priests dressing like bandits (or the other way round), a nun on the run, and a Cossack of dubious descent who wants to be called 'your royal highness'.


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In spite of all the gimmicks and gadgets, this is still a transitional movie. It’s spoofy and goofy, and often totally bonkers, but there’s still a fair amount of violence (albeit in comic-strip style) and the body count is pretty high. The opening scene – a group of Juaristas being led to the execution spot – is menacing, harrowing, but it abruptly discharges into the outrageous image of Hilton mowing down dozens of soldiers with his sewing gun. En route we get a Trinity-like fistfight in a laundry, some sexual innuendo (in relation to the sexy nun) and the Cossack performing a Russian dance, surprising his opponents with a few knock-out dance kicks. The spaghetti western evolved from a diehard style, via tongue-in-cheek parody with comic-book violence to slapstick comedy, and Carnimeo's movie seems to reflect this development. Appropriately Hallelujah is a blend of different types of spaghetti western heroes. He's a mercenary in the style of Corbucci's Zapata westerns, but also a more joyful Sartana (with even jokier gadgets) and a fun Django (with a machine fun instead of a machine gun)

Hilton is excellent, showing his special ability to keep his composure when the world around him is falling apart. Camardiel is good fun as the revolutionary who keeps repeating that the revolution is poor and therefore hangs his enemies because he can’t afford to waste ammunition. The scene with Agata Flori climbing a telegraph pole in order to send a telegram (and show a well-shaped leg) is a gem (*2). You sense that the director is in his element here; he directs with an elegant touch (the opening scene is perhaps the best thing he has ever done) and even comes away with a rather sadistic scene in which Hilton removes a bullet with a corkscrew. Stelvio Massi's cinematography is great and Cipriani's score is marvelous; that percussion-driven crescendo during the opening scene will send shivers down your spine. However, the movie is not without flaws. The jaunts at scatological humor are painfully unfunny and there are also a few issues with the pacing: some early scenes feel rushed while the movie starts padding after the one-hour point with both the laundry sequence and the grand finale going on too long.


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Notes:

  • (1) The sewing machine is called a ‘Senger’ instead of a Singer, probably to avoid problems with the Singer corporation (Please don't sue me Mr. Singer)
  • (2) On the forum, Phil H told us that her resourcefulness led to a funny remark when he watched the movie with the family: “(…) my daughter made a funny comment during the scene where Miss Flori shinned up the telegraph wire to send a message to Hallelujah with a little tapper contraption she had secreted about her person. Something like ‘Why does she keep that stuck in her stocking top when she's probably got hundreds of pockets in that habit thing she's wearing?’ - Ah, the innocence of youth.”

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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