Spaghetti Western
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Seven Dollars to Kill UK Video cover
Aka Sette Dollari Sul Rosso (I), Gringo Joue Sur le Rouge (Fr), Siete Dolares Al Rojo (Es), Django - Die Geier Stehen Schlange (WG)
Metheus Films (Rome) and Albatros Cooperativa De Produccion Cinematografica (Spain)
Director: Albert Cardiff [Alberto Cardone]
Story: Hamed Wright [Amedeo Mellone]
Script: Juan Cobos, Mel Collins [Melchiade Coletti], Arne Franklin [Arnaldo Franciolini]
Music: Francesco de Masi (trumpet soloist: Michele Lacarenza)
Cinematography: Jose Aquayo (Eastmancolour / Scope)
Editor: Fritz Mueller [Jose Antonio Rojo]
Art director: Hamed Wright [Amedeo Mellone]
Filmed in Elios Studios (Rome, Italy)
Release dates + Runing times: Spain , 28.10.68, 85 mins), Italy (registered 12.03.66, first shown 16.03.66, 83 mins), Germany (30.05.69, 90 mins), France (19.05.71, 90 mins)
UK Video: VPD (Released c1986), rated 15, running time 95 minutes 7 seconds (5 seconds BBFC cuts)
Italian takings: 311.000.000 lire
Spanish takings: 75.105,06€
Cast: Anthony Steffen [Antonio De Teffè] (Johnny Ashley), Jerry Wilson [Roberto Miali] (Jerry), Frank Farrel [Franco Fantasia] (the sheriff), Fernando Sancho (Sancho), Elisa Montes (Sybil), Loredana Nusciak (Emily), Spean Convery [Spartaco Conversi] (Bill), Jose Manuel Martin (Gringo, sometimes Chulo), Gianni Manera (a cardshark), Fred Warell (1st Sheriff), David Mancori (Jerry as child), Annie Giss (Starlight), Franco Gula (Walt), Gino Marturano (Gaucho, sometimes Ramon), Renato Terra [Renato Caizzi] (Manuel), Miriam Salonicchio (bar owner's wife), Nino Musco (the bar owner) and Carol Brown (Rosita/Rosa)
Uncredited: Fortunato Arena (ambushed stagecoach driver)

Seven Dollars to Kill is an extraordinarily good Spaghetti Western that delivers everything - no more and no less - that you could want from the genre. Superlative photography, memorable set pieces and some ear-wrenching music (featuring some superlative trumpet solos). Not to mention a knuckle-whitening double showdown climax. There's even an element of tragedy in there too, just to add more flavour to the already spicy mix.

A group of bandits led by Sancho (Fernando Sancho) raid a small farm and kill everyone except for a small boy, Jerry, who, in a rare moment of sympathy, they decide to take with them. Unknown to them, however, his father, Johnny Ashley (Anthony Steffen) has been away searching for his fortune. When he returns home and finds his family decimated he is understandably pissed off. He sets of to find the killers for two reasons; firstly to find out what has happened to his son and secondly to have his vengeance.

At first he isn't overly successful, and many years pass before he finds a true lead when Sancho's gang attacks a stagecoach and steal it's cargo of gold. In an attempt to throw off the authorities the banditos divide it between themselves and disband, before returning to their hideout in the mountains. Johnny manages to follow one of them, but is unable to accurately track down their lair.

In the meantime, Jerry (Jerry Wilson) has grown into a right hooligan, and believes that Sancho is his true father. He takes part with unappetising vigour in the gang's day to day activity of raping, looting and pillaging. Heck, he's even learnt to laugh insanely, just like his old (assumed) pop. They also have a new plan - to rob the bank in Wishville, a growing town with a goldmine - and Jerry is sent to stake it out. Coincidentally, Johnny also happens to have dropped into town, and has been hired to guard the very same establishment that his 'lost' son is about to attack with his unsavoury friends.

Like Why Go On Killing, this is an effective, no-nonsense production that doesn't try to - and doesn't need to - add anything particularly new to the genre. As such, it remains a lot more watchable than many others of its type - those that try maybe a little bit too hard to make their mark - do. The viewpoint is nihilistic, there is very little in the way of humour (always a bonus) and the set design and camerawork build up a nicely moody ambience. Unlike Why Go On Killing, however, this is well paced and keeps the action scenes to an acceptable level, therefore building up to the climax much more effectively, as the tension is left to smoulder rather than dissipated by unnecessary confrontations. The only real quibble that I have is that things do drift a bit once the storyline relocates to Wishville, but the extraordinarily memorable ending - which makes good use of rain, wind and meathooks - more than makes up for that. Top notch.

Matt B