The Mercenary (1968)
"Il mercenario" (original title)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Western  |  29 August 1968 (Italy)
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Reviews: 27 user | 22 critic

A well-groomed, greedy Polish mercenary aids a Mexican Revolutionary against the repressive government, while butting heads with a young female radical and an American rival.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Musante ...
Lorenzo Robledo ...
Álvaro de Luna ...
Eduardo Fajardo ...
Alfonso García
Raf Baldassarre ...
José Canalejas ...
Vicente Roca ...
Elias Garcia
Franco Ressel ...
Guillermo Méndez ...
Enrique Navarro
Simón Arriaga ...
Ugo Adinolfi


While a Mexican revolutionary lies low as a U.S. rodeo clown, the cynical Polish mercenary who tutored the idealistic peasant tells how he and a dedicated female radical fought for the soul of the guerrilla general Paco, as Mexicans threw off repressive government and all-powerful landowners in the 1910s. Tracked by the vengeful Curly, Paco liberates villages, but is tempted by social banditry's treasures, which Kowalski revels in. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He sells death to the highest bidder! Buy or die!


Comedy | Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and brief nudity | See all certifications »





Release Date:

29 August 1968 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

A Professional Gun  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


ESP 21,793,177 (Spain)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jack Palance plays a character named "Curly". Palance later won an Oscar for City Slickers (1991), in which he also played a character named "Curly". See more »


Sergei Kowalski uses a Spanish Astra 400 pistol. The pistol was not introduced until 1921, after the Mexican Revolution. See more »


Columba: [of Paco] He was my man. But you only betray a Mexican woman once.
See more »


Referenced in The Spaghetti West (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

Great fun, good action and characters. Should be a classic.
14 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

Franco Nero, sporting a burly mustache and sideburns, stars as Segei `The Pollack' Kowalski, an angelic opportunist, who, for profit not nobility, helps a revolutionary, Paco (Tony Musante), overthrow the corrupt Mexican generals. It is a very good Spaghetti Western, with a nice pace, good action, and interesting characters playing off one another. Jack Palance is Curly, an obviously gay bad guy, whose prissy demeanor hides his ruthlessness- that is until he kills his own partner out of spite and blows a few men's heads off. The story starts with Nero establishing his badassness while catching a dice cheat, forcing the gambler to eat the dice and saying, "When you get them back, I suggest you dont use them again." He is then hired to help protect a trainload of silver make it through rebel territory to the States. Nero goes to the mining town only to find it overthrown by Paco and his gang, and the mine collapsed. Nero luckily finds himself able to offer his help to the rebels and guide Paco in the art of stealing, strategically avoiding, and attacking the corrupt army, eventually overthrowing it. But, mostly it is not a buddy-buddy relationship, Nero is in it for the money, Paco is in it for the righteousness, yet they both respect each other. (To give a good example, at one point, while crossing the desert, Nero makes Paco and the revolutionaries empty their canteens so he can have a shower while they go thirsty.)

Aside from nice bits of humor, it sports some religious allusions, such as, Paco begins with only twelve men + Nero (their Jesus), they masquerade at one point during a religious parade and attack while dressed as angels and virgin Mary's, as well as Nero being strapped to a t-shaped cross when captured. There is also a nod to Macbeth when Paco's woman uses his power drunk naiveté to convince him to turn against Nero. The film makes use of an obviously fairly high budget, with many large battles, crowd scenes, entire towns destroyed, planes bombing, and many locales. It has an interesting structure, since the bulk of the film is told in flashback before returning to the beginning and then reaching the grand finale. The Morricone score is great, and amazingly enough, very understated. Corbucci's direction has never been better.

(Any film that opens with a shot of a dwarf clown dressed like a matador, you just know is going to be good)

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