Some Dollars for Django Review
Like Alberto de Martino’s Django shoots first, released about a month later, Some Dollars for Django was retitled to cash in on the success (and notoriety) of Corbucci’s landmark movie Django (*1). Significantly both movies have an early scene in which the protagonist shows some kind of fraudulent behaviour, causing confusion about his identity. In De Martino’s film, the protagonist, a man called Garvin, kills the bounty hunter who’s in possession of his father’s dead body, and subsequently collects the bounty himself. In this movie, Steffen, playing a character called Reagan, stumbles upon the dead body of a sheriff, and adopts his identity (by stealing his sheriff’s star) as the new lawman of Rockspring.
Ever since Clint Eastwood's No Name had entered the border town of San Miguel on a mule, confusion about the protagonist's identity had been an ingredient of the spaghetti western. Like Clint, Anthony Steffen is wearing a poncho, and enters the movie on the back of an unusual riding animal (for a western character), a donkey. We see him through an arcade formed by the arms of two Mexicans, performing a dangerous variation of arms wrestling. Before we (and the Mexicans) know what the intentions of the person on the donkey are, the scene bursts into violence. This is all classic spaghetti western stuff. The border setting, the taverna, the mysterious gunman, the eruption of violence. In comments on this movie, the opening scene is inevitably called the best part of the movie, which doesn’t really sound as a compliment. The implication is of course that the rest of the film is …
Reagan is in fact a bounty hunter, on the trail of the bandits who have stolen 100,000 $ from a mining company. He has killed most of them, but the loot – probably in possession of bandit leader Jim Norton - is still missing. The trail leads to the town of Rockspring, which is the scene of a war between ranchers and farmers. One of the farmers is Jim’s brother Trevor, who is responsible for his niece Sally, Jim’s daughter. He therefore wants to stay out of, but he’s such a good shot, that the farmers ask him to be their leader in the fight against the cruel leader of the ranchers, Amos. In the meantime Reagan and Sally have fallen in love, but things are complicated by Reagan’s suspicions that the girl’s uncle is in fact her father, the man he is looking for …
It's not difficult to predict which direction the story will take, but otherwise there's not too much wrong with the script. The theme of character ambiguity is nicely reflected in Frank Wolff’s single/double role as Jim/Trevor Norton, and there’s plenty of action to make up for the story’s predictability or some of its lulls. But while the opening scene is vintage SW, the remainder of the movie is a more Americanized story about a cattle war (without cattle), seasoned with a romantic subplot (without romance). There’s even a Hawksian comical character of the talkative old timer who’s helping the sheriff. Officially Argentine veteran Léon Klimovsky is credited as director, but producer Marino Girolami sent his son Enzo (an ambitious young director) to the set to give Klimovsky some assistance and to spice up the action a little (*2). Some think Enzo (G. Castellari) did the lion's share of the direction. The film does indeed feel like a product of a young man with some talent, but lacking experience. It’s all there, and some of it isn’t bad at all, but most of it could’ve been better. I wasn't too happy with steffen in this movie; he can be very effective as a stoic and taciturn avenger, but he’s most certainly not a good romantic lead. The film would have worked better with Giuliano Gemma or even Glenn Saxson. Carlo Savina’s score is deliciously ponderous, often suggesting a lofty, almost solemn atmosphere which is largely absent on-screen
- (1) The on-screen title says Diango, so with an i. Apparently those responsible for changing the title, felt a little awkward about it. However, according to forum member Jonathan Corbett, the 'mistake' was only made in the redone credits, the title was correct in the original version, see: https://forum.spaghetti-western.net/t/some-dollars-for-django-pochi-dollari-per-django-alambradas-de-violencia-enzo-g-castellari-leon-klimovsky-1966/1400/41?u=scherpschutter
- (2) Marco Giusti, Dizionario del western all'italiana
1966 - Directors: León Klimovsky, Enzo G. Castellari - Cast: Anthony Steffen, Frank Wolff, Gloria Osuna, José Canelejas, Alfonso Rojas, Ennio Girolami, José Luis Lluch, Music: Carlo Savina