Why Go on Killing? Review (Scherpschutter)

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The first spaghetti western starring Anthony Steffen and also the first collaboration of the duo Edoardo Mulargia and Vincenzo Musolino. Steffen is a man called Steve MacDougal, who must become a deserter in order to avenge his father's death. Old MacDougal (who had a farm) was killed in his absence by his neighbor and arch enemy Lopez. The killing was already an act of retaliation: Steve's father had crippled Lopez - now riding a wheelchair - years ago. The theme of never-ending revenge - also used in Robert Hossein's Un corde, une colt|Cemetery without crosses - is at the heart of the narrative, with Steve's sister Judy asking her vindictive brother why he would go on killing, knowing that one bloody revenge will inevitably lead to another...

The movie was (nearly?) entirely shot on Spanish soil and therefore credited to José Antonio de La Loma, but according to some Mulargia was at the helm of it (*1). Unlike most early Spanish-Italian co-productions, the movie is typically Italian in style and content (that is: not relying on Hollywood examples), so it's my guess that the man in the directional chair was Italian. Mulargia and Musolino were both from the Deep South, a region in which a person's loyalty is in the first place towards family and clan. The conflict between the MacDougal and Lopez family, is one of those long-running feuds that could drag generations into a maelstrom of rancor and vendetta. For the occasion the story has been transferred to the American-Mexican border, opposing two families with a different background, one Mexican, one North-American, but there are no hints at racial prejudices, the two families are arch enemies and the thing has started somewhere in a distant past, for a reason most people involved probably don't even remember.

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The best scenes are clearly influenced by A Fistful of Dollars, with some of Sergio Leone's distinctive close-ups and low-angle shots nicely copied (*2). There's also a Peripero like gravedigger (played by Franco Pesce) commenting, in semi-comical style, on the action. The film is reckoned among the most brutally violent spaghetti westerns; the opening scene, with wheelchair man Lopez ordering his men to shoot his nemesis McDougal (almost literally) to pieces, must have shocked viewers (and censors). Aldo Berti (who also makes his spaghetti western debut) already shows his habit of beating up women in gruesome fashion: the scene in which mad man Berti beats the living daylights out of Ida Galli, is pretty nasty, announcing his infamous head butt in El Puro. Both the opening scene and this torture scene were cut: all slams but three were removed to make the scene with Galli and Berti acceptable to contemporary viewers (*3).

In his first spaghetti, Steffen is wearing a small hat and making his trademark rollovers, but his McDougal is more woeful character than his usual avenger types. His appearance fits the pessimistic, mournful story and some think this is one of his best spaghetti western performances. The movie is mean and nasty and also has some style to spare, but the story is quite jerky and I would say there's too much drama for what is essentially an action movie; some of the dramatic scenes - especially those involving the women - feel a little forced and affected. The script (from an original story by Musolini) is vivid but still a bit thin and there's a lot of riding around to extend the movie to passable length (most version still have a running time of no more than 75-83 minutes). The riding scenes are accompanied by an upbeat and quite catchy musical theme, but eventually all this riding around starts getting on your nerves.


Director: Edoardo Mulargia, José Antonio De La Loma - Cast: Antonio De Teffé [as Anthony Steffen], Ida Galli [as Evelyn Stewart], José Calvo, Aldo Berti, Gemma Cuervo, Hugo Blanco, José Torres, Franco Pesce, Franco Latini - Music: Felice Di Stefano

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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