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The Civil War has ended, but not for Jonas, a ruthless Confederate officer who wants to continue the fight by reorganizing Confederate troops in the Southwest with the support of a large sum of stolen money. He devises an elaborate ruse to allow his small party to travel with minimal scrutiny through hostile territory, for the money is hidden in a coffin said to contain the body of his dead son. Jonas' other sons travel with him along with a hired "widow", as they proceed to what they hope to be a new start to the War between the States. However, while en route, they face severe, ongoing strife among themselves and successive threats from Union soldiers, a posse of cowboys, and an Indian war party. Written by
"Hellbenders" shocked me. While there are tons of bad Italian westerns, there are very few classics and near-classics. Too often, they were indifferently directed, poorly dubbed and were just meaningless violence. It's a shame, as I really do like the genre. When they are well done (such as the films of Sergio Leone), they are wonderful. As for Sergio Carbucci, I've found his films to be better than average. Yet, oddly, I have never heard of this film--and it seems to be his very best.
The film is about an insane family who refuse to admit that the Civil War has been lost. Despite General Lee's recent surrender, Colonel Jonas (Joseph Cotten has a bloody and nutty plan--to steal a huge cache of Union money and finance a renewed Civil War! To do this, he and his three sons cold-bloodedly murder Union troops--and even of their own men! The problem is that now they have to get the money from out west all the way east where the fighting has been occurring. When their plan starts to unravel when the woman assisting them is killed, they need another female gang member because they are hiding the money in a coffin--a coffin supposedly holding a grieving widow's husband. How can this go wrong? See the film.
There's a lot to like about this one. The dubbing is far better than normal and the film looks very professional. Plus, while some similar plots were used in the 1940s and 50s (several with Randolph Scott), they never were handled like this one. While I am not usually a fan of violence, it really helps make the family thoroughly despicable--and this evil, clannish quality gives the film a very gritty (almost noir) edge. Overall, a very successful film with only one tiny flaw (the way the family reacts to a 'bum' in the desert late in the film makes absolutely no sense--especially in light of how the family behaved early in the film). Still, there's a lot to like and admire about this one.
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