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Enrico Maria Salerno,
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Spaghetti Westerns would go on to become one of Italy's main exports, but A Coffin for the Sheriff was released while the genre was still in it's infancy, and before Sergio Leone had chance to complete his legendary Dollars trilogy, and it's a rather good little film that is worth seeking out for Spaghetti Western fans. The film is directed by Mario Caiano, who would go on to direct a number of entries in this genre; this film being one of his first. I've not seen a lot from this director, but his Giallo 'Eye in the Labyrinth' was decent and he directed the excellent 'Night of the Doomed' in the same year as this film. The title makes no sense, but anyway we focus on a mystery man who calls himself 'Shenandoah'. He turns up in town one day and bumps into a gang of local thugs in a bar. He gets challenged to a poker game and ends up loosing - though this doesn't concern him too much since all the dollar bills he's carrying are fakes. The game is interrupted when some other bandits attempt to rob the town's bank, and it soon becomes apparent that there's more to the stranger when he lends a hand to an injured robber...
The sound is always an important part of a Spaghetti Western, and this one features both the good and bad elements. On the plus side, we have an excellent Western score that while not rivalling the work by the great Ennio Morricone, is still good enough and fits the film well. On the negative side, however, we get 'treated' to some of the worst dubbing I've heard in a Western - it's not good at all! Cult star Anthony Steffen takes the lead role and does a good job of playing the gritty Western hero. Steffen would go on to take the lead in a number of Westerns (including a handful of Django flicks) and it's not surprising since he looks the part and plays it well. The rest of the cast is more than adequate, though as is often the case; the main focus here is put squarely on the lead player. I can't say that this is one of the very best Spaghetti Westerns that I've seen, although in fairness the standard has been set rather high by a number of films in this genre. The film is quite hard to come by, but I would certainly recommend that Spaghetti Western fans give it a look as it is a film worth seeing.
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