Sunday, 23 August 2009

A Faceful Of Spaghetti

Una Lunga Fila Di Croci
aka No Room To Die


‘‘He sure don’t waste a shot’’

Sixties spaghetti salivation with a spittoon splattering slew of varmints for saddle sore Anthony Steffen to bring down like shooting at a tree full of squirrels.
Opening with a pantomime hiss worthy villain, using the popular moniker of Santana, and his gang of heinous honchos, killing off a band of Mexican immigrants they dispatch of from their people smuggling trade to evade the army, No Room To Die soon pony’s up a recognisable western theme of good versus evil.
Star Anthony Steffen, he of the Clint Eastwood stubble and dead eye stare down, but too often nonchalant in his screen presence, is vaunted bounty hunter Johnny Brandon aka Django, as once again implied for the success of the International box office !. He soon deals with Santana, along with his gang of ill begotten gringos, and rides into the local town to claim the bounty on their heads.
Competition soon arrives in the form of William Berger as Everett Murdock, known as The Preacher, due to his proclivity to dress in an all black garb and carry with him at all times the Bible. Chapter and verse he too effortlessly dispatches of men with a price on their heads in the time honoured manner of a bounty hunter. Implication for the International box office success here is that Berger’s character is heavily implied as the iconic character Sartana. What he definitely shares with Sartana is his skill with a fantastical weapon. He deftly dishes out justice with his uniquely styled seven barrelled, repeat firing shot gun. A very cool weapon that is well in keeping with the best of Spaghetti western lore. This bible bashing harbinger of death stays off the hard liquor and instead readily downs a glass of milk. The calcium kid though he is not as he thinks nothing of putting bad boy bones into the ground, casket casing or not !.

Johnny Brandon helps Everett Murdock out of a sticky situation when The Preacher gets outnumbered and cornered in a quarry. In payment of kind Murdock agrees to team up with Brandon to take down a feared land owner, who is corrupting a border town and using Mexican immigrants in fear of their lives to fill his own pockets for personal wealth. Brandon and Murdock have an uneasy working relationship, but together they have a far greater chance of culling evil land owner Mr. Fargo’s iniquitous set up.
Fargo exploit’s the Mexicans and is surreptitiously bleeding the town that he rules dry of resources and wealth. When Brandon and Murdock ride into town things start to change as not only do the pair of skilled gunmen pose a real threat to Fargo’s position, but they are bounty hunters in paradise as all of Fargo’s hired hands have a price on their heads !. Every time there is a stand off or shooting melee you can almost see the dollar signs click up in the eyes of our two protagonists, as they kill from the most wanted roster like shooting ducks at a fair ground.
Director Sergio Garrone, no stranger to the world of Spaghetti westerns, handles proceedings like the seasoned professional that he is. The setting is suitably plaid in its weathered countenance and pretty much all that deserve to get their comeuppance do so with acceptable regularity. There is a nice twist of events come the final stages and of course you know that there is going to be a classic Sergio Leone inspired multi stand off gun draw in there to enjoy.

As Spaghetti westerns go this one nestles in nicely amidst the middle order selection, not the greatest but definitely worth your while seeking out. There’s enough classical scenes and recognisable themes to entertain fans of the genre, along with some welcome plagiarism. Both Anthony Steffen and William Berger do the very best with what is given to them to do, and their ill at ease relationship throws up a not unexpected turn to ensure everyone watching goes home grasping their entry ticket stub, rather than resigning it to the bin in disappointment.

Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 2 PAL DVD

Una Lunga Fila Di Croci (1969)
Director Sergio Garrone
With Anthony Steffen, William Berger, Mario Brega,
Riccardo Garrone & Nicholetta Machiavelli


  1. "The calcium kid, though, he is not as he thinks nothing of putting bad boy bones into the ground, casket casing or not!"

    hehe - nice, man. That bit made me laugh... very well put. :) Cool write-up!

  2. This just jumped to the top of my want list sir! Sergio Garrone westerns that I haven't seen? A must.

  3. Thanks for the kind words Astro, I really appreciate it.
    DZ, more Spaghetti Westerns to come. I just picked up the Tony Anthony starrer The Stranger In Japan, Steve Reeves one time only western A Long Ride From Hell - been looking forward to this hitting shiny for a very long time & I've never seen the movie. Also, a rare Valentin Trujillo western outing from 1972 El Ausente in English dub. Some great titles to saddle up with for sure.