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Author Topic: 7 Winchesters For A Massacre / Payment in Blood (Enzo Castellari, 1967)  (Read 2370 times)

IL COMMISSARIO

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7 WINCHESTERS FOR A MASSACRE 1967 aka SETTE WINCHESTER PER UN MASSACRO  1967 aka PAYMENT IN BLOOD

Ed Byrnes, Guy Madison

A renegade Confederate, Colonel Thomas Blake, refusing to accept defeat at the hands of the Union, rallies a group of various cutthroats for a campaign of violence and also to steal $200,000 dollars in hidden money from a retreated Confederate regiment; the whereabouts of which is unknown except to one person, Stuart (Byrnes), a mysterious character who served in the regiment that held the strongbox now buried in a Commanche cemetery.

Directed by Enzo Castellari under his english name E.G. Rowland. Apparently Columbia put some money into this film as the production values are slightly above the norm. Castellari again proves his dominance as the king of action movies in Italy during the time. Compared with the myriad other directors of spaghetti westerns, only Castellari seemed to grasp the ability to showcase exciting action set pieces. Others could as well but Castellari was very consistent and seldom let his audience down. Here, in addition to numerous gun battles, are explosions and some good fist fights for a change. From an original story by Castellari's dad, Marino Girolami.

Ed Byrne's is great as the acrobatic and cunning hero, even though he seems like he stepped off a James Dean picture. The rest of the cast is made up of various spaghetti villain regulars whom fans will recognize from dozens of other productions. There's even a nod to Django, "the tomb of the Commanche hero." The gorgeous actress who shows up about halfway through looks a bit like the hottie who was in Carnimeo's FIND A PLACE TO DIE.

The movie itself seems to be patterned after Corbucci's seminal HELLBENDERS (a superior variation of THE TRAMPLERS) and a bastardized version of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. The relationship between Stuart and Blake is also vaguely similar to the relationship between Chuncho and El Nino in Damiani's classic BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1967). Stuart even manages to convince Blake that his men may not be trustworthy. There is also a hint of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE thrown into the mix.

There are several standout scenes. The opening ten minutes are a smorgasbourge of action as we are introduced to the villains of the film replete with gun battles and explosions. The sequence where Stuart is accepted into the camp is chock full of cool moments. The villains test Stuart's ego and returns their arrogance in kind. The best bit is when Blake fires his rifle exploding a whiskey bottle near Stuart's foot and he quickly returns fire showcasing his skills with the gun narrowly missing Blake. Throughout the movie Stuart constantly agitates the other members of Blake's vicious band showing them that he is not only their equal but their superior. Also, the final gunfight contains some ingenious bits as well.

The soundtrack is stupendous, bombastic and very exciting. Francesco de Masi, one of the unsung contributors to Italian cinema music delivers one of the best Italo oater scores I've heard and it needs a CD release. I have a suite of music from the film, about 10 minutes worth on a compilation CD, but the entire score desperately needs a release.  Morricone will always be the most well known and to a lesser extent, Bacalov and Nicolai, but de Masi belongs in their ranks as well. The vocal version of the main theme is mentioned in the credits but is nowhere to be heard in this version of the movie. It is present on one of the spaghetti compilation CDs I have.

A fitfully entertaining movie that, although you've seen it all before, Castellari shoots the movie with a fast pace and injects enough fresh elements to overlook the fact that there are dozens and dozens of similarly plotted movies out there. The movie itself cries out for a legit DVD release. Lots of entertainment value is found here.
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LANZETTA

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Glad you liked this movie IC and i'm gonna give this a second viewing shortly so i can comment further. :D
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