Watch The Bullets Fly In This Colorful Spaghetti Western!
"This Man Can't Die" director Gianfranco Baldanello's Spaghetti western "30 Winchesters for El Diablo" ranks as an entertaining frontier yarn about a mysterious straight-shooting stranger and the eponymous Mexican bandit who rides roughshod over the border town of Canyon City with his posse of trigger-happy pistoleros. Baldanello directs this oateractually his first film at the helmwith a modicum of style. During the first five minutes, he frames a man pleading for his life with the camera set up so that the poor beggar is framed between the legs of the villain who is poised to kill him. A gunshot rings out. The beggar slumps over, but it is the villain who crumples from a bullet. Incredibly, the beggar discovers that he is alive. Along with his scenarists, including Alfredo Varelli, Adriano Micantoni of "The Colt is My Law," and Alfonso Brescia of "When the Devil Holds A Gun," Baldanello packs several surprises into the screenplay, the biggest of which occurs about three-fourths of the way into the action.
A solitary horseman, Jeff Benson (Carl Möhner of "The Last Gun"), rides into a ranch where everybody but one man, Jerry (Antonio Garisa), has been gunned down by El Diablo's (José Torres of "Slave Queen of Babylon") murderous bandit gang. Two bandits are making the soul survivor dance to their gunshots. Jeff saves Jerry when the latter thinks that he is about to bite the dust. Once Benson has rescued him, Jerry follows him on foot to join him. "You can't leave me here," Jerry shouts. "You saved my life. You've got to take me with you." Benson keeps on riding, but Jerry surprises him a little later when he shows up on horseback to join him. They canter into Canyon City, or as some citizens refer to it "the worst damned town on the frontier," looking for work.
No sooner do they reach town than Jeff intervenes in a gunfight. Our hero blasts the revolvers out of the hands of two combatants. "If you've got to quarrel, settle it legally. Both of you are grown men fighting like a couple of kids." Sheriff Webb (Attilio Dottesio of "Hercules against the Moon Men") approaches Jeff and asks him what his business is in Canyon City. "Two gentlemen were about to kill each other and I stopped them," Jeff replies. "This might seem strange to you, but we're looking for work." A troubled cattleman, Randall (Renato Chiantoni of "The Man from Nowhere"), has been talking to Sheriff Webb about helping him find cowhands willing to help him move his herd to better pasture land before the animals starve to death. Nobody wants to help Randall because they fear El Diablo."
Eventually, Jeff and Jerry hire out to Randall and move his herd. During his discussion with Webb about the herd, Jeff notices Sheriff's Webb's daughter, Pamela Webb (Alessandra Panaro of "Hercules against Moloch"), and takes a shine to her. Meanwhile, at the local saloon, Sheriff Webb's no-good grown-up son Victor is consorting with a dance hall girl, Rosario (Mila Stanic of "And Give Us Our Daily Sex") who dreams of wealth and a new life elsewhere. What Victor doesn't know is that Rosario is also tied in with El Diablo. Sheriff Webb hates Diablo. "It is a dead end street," Webb rants. "El Diablo and his men are committing every crime they want to and laughing at the law." The lawman is dying to know how El Diablo receives his information.
Not long afterward, Sheriff Webb learns the government is shipping a load of gold through the county. Basically, Jeff spends the remainder of the movie battling El Diablo while Victor plots behind his father's back and Rosario plots behind Victor's back. She urges El Diablo to rob the train, but he hesitates because robbing the train is too dangerous. Nevertheless, before it is all over with, El Diablo and his gang hit the train and get the surprise of their lives. We learn that Jeff is really a lawman in disguise. Pamela and Jeff ride off together.
"30 Winchesters for El Diablo" looks like a hybrid oater, part of which is obviously Italian in the vein of Sergio Leone's "Fistful of Dollars," and the other part that resembles an American western from the 1950s. The character of the town sheriff with a family recalls American westerns. The lawman is widowed with a grown-up daughter and son who live with him in an elegant home in town. Typically, Spaghetti western lawman are not married and reside in a cockroach infested jail. Meanwhile, the scope of "30 Winchesters" is a little bigger than most Spaghettis because the action includes a railroad train and there are two major shoot-outs with a high body count. Despite this high body count, very little blood is spilled. The villains wipe out a ranch to the last man and in the big finale the villains are virtually eradicated themselves in an ambush of sorts.
"30 Winchesters for El Diablo" qualifies as a good little Italian western.
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