Amiable, unassertive Scott Mary picks up the trash, cleans the toilets, sweeps the floors in the town of Clifton. Then a gunfighter comes to town. He offers advice and guidance to Scott who... See full summary »
Lee Van Cleef,
A blind, but deadly, gunman, is hired to escort fifty mail order brides to their miner husbands. His business partners double cross him, selling the women to bandit Domingo. Blindman heads into Mexico in pursuit.
Mann is a gunman informed by a childhood friend that his father was murdered years earlier by his mother and her lover. To make matters worse, Mann's sister, who is in love with his friend,... See full summary »
The tough gun-man Burt Sullivan (Franco Nero) leaves his job as a town sheriff to go to Mexico to find the man, Cisco, who killed his father many years ago. He and his younger brother ... See full summary »
After a stagecoach is robbed and the passengers murdered, a long and tangled series of surprise attacks a murderous double-crosses leaves the coach's strongbox in the hands of the killer ... See full summary »
Finito in prigione per avere ucciso, per legittima difesa, tre uomini mentre giocava a campana, Ringo viene liberato per infiltrarsi tra i banditi capeggiati da Sancho che, dopo una rapina ... See full summary »
Lorella De Luca
A pure spaghetti western; once upon a time in the west...
It's always very difficult for me to articulate my thoughts on films that leave me as speechless and mesmerized as Cemetery without Crosses did. The hardest part is not to describe the mechanics of plot but to convey the emotional truth that resonates through them. In the vast spaghetti western desert populated by everything from goofy slapstick comedies to leftist political westerns set against the Mexican revolution to gritty revenge flicks to schematic allegories about iconic men with no names carrying coffins, CEMETERY WITHOUT CROSSES occupies a peculiar place: it is a pure spaghetti western, one of the very few that dared follow in the footsteps not of the picaresque THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY but of the elegiac ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.
In a way it encapsulates the very essence of what the genre is about in its most poignant undiluted form. The old American west seen through the eyes of fascinated Europeans. If American westerns were myths about history, this is a myth about a myth. An iconic world and a dusty limbo. The archetype behind it all. In that sense we're talking about a dance of death, a term Sergio Leone coined to describe his magnum opus Once Upon a Time in the West. As if the universe conspired to prove future reviewers right, the film closes with a dedication: "Robert Hossein dedica questo film all' amico Sergio Leone"
I won't go into plot details because they are of little importance to the overall picture. Very elemental, very stripped-down, something you've seen many times before but not quite this way - Raymond Chandler's praise of Dashiell Hammett's talent, how to spin a familiar scene in a unique way. Hossein himself stars as a leather-clad killer, drawn into a tragic kidnap/murder plot by a widow. What makes the difference here is the execution, the style and the form. The mythic place Cemetery without Crosses takes place in leaps into the screen with an opening sepia-tinted scene of horses galloping; a wounded man is being chased. When all is said and done, a long shot of a dusty ghost town in the middle of the sierra fades back into sepia and the film ends.
A wise man once said "silence teaches you how to sing". Hossein here silences everything and lets the defeaning silence and a Mexican guitar say it all. Dialogue is totally absent for long stretches, a mournful Mexican deguello sounding in the background, glances and gestures carrying all that needs to be communicated. Just watch how total silence can make a dinner scene so captivating. Perhaps the pinnacle being a completely wordless exchange between a man and a woman in the middle of an empty street; they say so much by saying nothing. The score leaps to sudden crescendos then falls back to a sea of melancholic chords. But in the same time Hossein has taken great care to preserve a near perfect sound design. Everything is audible, from the wooden planks creaking at the weight of footsteps to the sounds of the night. Such attention to detail is always appreciated.
As far as the look of the movie is concerned, it matches the audio both in tone and style. Everything looks grungy and torn; a plain wooden cabin, long dusty raincoats, a ghost town falling to shambles in the middle of nowhere, a cemetery seen from afar, figures in the landscape, a funeral procession, a hanged man's feet dangling mid-air; no place for squeaky clean studio backlots trying to pass for the real dea, no clean-shaven cowboys. Rugged faces, a perfect mirror of the film's world, just the way Sergio Leone used them. Tired eyes, scars and wrinkles, unkempt beards, sullen and ugly people, the human face as a landscape unto itself.
The light is bright at first but as the film progresses to its inevitable end, everything turns dimmer. After the 40 minute mark, the film exists in a twilight world. Truly a land of some other order. A land that Hossein practically leaves behind in the desert when the film ends. It's like a mythical place we were allowed to glimpse for 80 minutes. Elegiac.
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