Priest turned vigilante Father John (Van Cleef) hunts down a gang of criminals, led by Sam Clayton (Palance), who killed a man in a local bar. On the gang's return to the town, they kill ... See full summary »
(Version reviewed is the 100-minute showing on tm3 on June 23, 2001.) Expectations of a spaghetti western will be disappointed: director Rudolf Zehetgruber (aka Cehett Grooper, according to the Italian-language opening credits) helmed a somewhat anachronistic picture in the style of American 50's horse operas as regards story, cinematography and music. Its basic asset is founded on the plot, sending seven w o m e n through an Arizona (or, actually, Southern Spain) desert after having survived an Indian raid. Their adventures on the road are surprisingly exciting enough to keep the spectator awake to the end, although unexpected turning points fail to appear. The seven characters are finely distinguished (down to the costume colors) but lack some convincing sympathy except for Baxter's rôle; best acting, apart from Baxter, is turned in by Maria Perschy (as the Austrian Ursula whose child is killed at the beginning but who regains her strength during the march) and Perla Cristal (as the Spaniard Pilar, the tough "lady in red"). Jorge Rigaud has two cameo-like scenes as a slowly nodding Indian, whereas Gustavo Rojo's strong male lead (appearing as late as 54 minutes into the film) seems rather detrimental to the storyline. There is something (pseudo-)feminist about the story, even more because the crew mainly refrained from presenting hot girls in sweat-soaked blouses as one might have foreseen. (There are, as a matter of fact, some unhistorical decolletés.) Editing of this picture is pretty odd at times. The well-staged action scenes, the one-dimensional portrayal of American natives and a singular pseudo-philosophical dialogue between Baxter and Rojo support the emulation of American 50's westerns. Director Grooper will have been well aware of the fact that he did not create a "Fistful of Dollars" or a "Once Upon a Time...", neither is there a touch of "The Magnificent Seven" as the Spanish title seems to imply. This is an unspectacular, if solid, western with women in the central rôles - an idea that does not change much after all. (German dubbing includes the fine male voices of Rainer Brandt (Rojo), Thomas Danneberg (Hilbeck) and Friedrich Joloff (Clarke).)
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