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El Chuncho's bandits rob arms from a train, intending to sell the weapons to Elias' revolutionaries. They are helped by one of the passengers, Bill Tate, and allow him to join them, unaware he is an assassin working for the Mexican government. Written by
TOM SELDON <email@example.com>
I first read about this film in a great book about Spaghetti Westerns wherein every Italian western was presented in complete detail. It was a scholarly approach to the genre and has made me a fan for years. Known in the U.S. as A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, it has a darker mood than Sergio Leone's DOLLAR trilogy and his masterpiece, DUCK, YOU SUCKER! (a.k.a. FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE), more angst ridden than Sergio Corbucci's A PROFESSIONAL GUN (a.k.a. THE MERCENARY) and more bleak than Corbucci's masterpiece, DJANGO (which spawned countless sequels that had nothing to do with the original and the only one worth mentioning is: DJANGO KILL!) which is difficult since the western was awash in a sea of mud that was the stage where the characters ruthlessly slaughtered each other.
I love the Italian approach to westerns because they create an atmosphere where John Wayne is not welcome. If the Duke were to enter their world, he would be shot in the back by some crazed revolutionary/bandit who wouldn't wait for a showdown in the street. Plus the Duke probably wouldn't be fast enough on the draw. A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL has plenty of mood, crazed revolutionaries/bandits, double-crossings, contempt for "gringos" (which makes me wonder about how the Italians think of us--are these films suppose to be "political statements" too?), gun fights and endless desolate landscapes that would make Sam Peckinpah drool with delight. There is no happiness to be found in this film and every fan of Spaghetti westerns would revel in it's excess.
A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL is great on this level and should have multiple viewings (check out Klaus Kinski as the bible thumping revolutionary who spouts credo with gunfire and Lou Castel as the cold-hearted gringo who doesn't drink, smoke, look at women but LOVES money). The only Spaghetti Western regulars missing from this one are: Franco Nero and Lee Van Cleef. Director Damiano Daminani has made a Spaghetti western cult classic in his own right. I want to see his other westerns. See it and you won't be sorry.
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