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The Five Man Army (1969)
"Un esercito di 5 uomini" (original title)

M  |   |  Western  |  20 February 1970 (USA)
6.8
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 947 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 10 critic

Spaghetti western about a group of bandits, led by Peter Graves, who plan on robbing a train transporting gold for the Mexican army.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Dutchman
...
Capt. Nicolas Augustus
...
Mesito
Nino Castelnuovo ...
Luis Dominguez
Tetsurô Tanba ...
Samurai
Claudio Gora ...
Manuel Esteban
Daniela Giordano ...
Maria
Annabella Andreoli ...
Perla, the Mexican girl
Carlo Alighiero ...
Capt. Gutierrez
Giacomo Rossi Stuart ...
One of Gutierrez' mexican officers
Marino Masé ...
Railroad man
Dan Sturkie ...
Carnival barker
José Torres ...
Mexican spy
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Storyline

Set during the Mexican Revolution, a man known only as "The Dutchman" has a plan, and brings in four of his old acquaintences, including an old army buddy and a silent Japanese swordsman, to help him out by promising a $1000 reward if it succeeds. The plan turns out to be a fool's mission: rob a train carrying $500,000 in gold that's guarded by dozens of heavily armed soldiers and passes through a steady stream of military checkpoints. Naturally, his friends agree to go along with the scheme. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

20 February 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Five Man Army  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Partially shot on Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) location (the railroad and the farmhouse). See more »

Goofs

One of the soldiers killed on the train opens his eyes as they set up his body to make it look like he is still alive. See more »

Quotes

Dutchman: Some men die for money, some die for causes. They're gonna die for us.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Agent Vinod (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE FIVE MAN ARMY (Don Taylor and Italo Zingarelli, 1969) **1/2
14 February 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

To begin with, this is one of the first films I ever recall watching – my father having acquired a copy on 16mm when I was still a kid!; needless to say, I've been wanting to re-acquaint myself with it for several years – particularly to see how it stacked up against other Spaghetti Westerns which, naturally, I came across much later…and, this, in spite of Leonard Maltin's unflattering rating!

As it turned out, the film lived up to my expectations in being a middle-of-the-road genre effort – not one of the best, perhaps, but reasonably entertaining all the same. Incidentally, it forms part of a handful of Spaghetti Westerns with the Mexican Revolution as backdrop; an added attraction to the film, then, is its main plot involving a caper aboard a moving (and heavily-guarded) train – it has, in fact, been referred to as a cross between THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960; in view of the select group called upon to aid in a cause) and THE WILD BUNCH (1969; which had a similar robbery as a subplot)!

While the central train sequence involves some notable tension (the elderly dynamite expert loses part of his equipment, the samurai falls off and has to run across a lengthy stretch of fields in order to rejoin his associates), the gang is never shown to be in any serious danger throughout; the final confrontation with the Army, for instance, is nothing at all like the notorious massacre seen in THE WILD BUNCH itself – in fact, none of them gets wounded or killed…and even the tension within the outfit over whether they should hand over the gold to the revolutionaries or else keep it for themselves is resolved without so much as a punch (rather it's shrugged off with a laugh!).

The multi-national group is played by Americans Peter Graves (well cast in a basic extension of his signature role in the classic MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE TV series) and James Daly (his presence here isn't displeasing yet quite baffling, as he can't have been at all a familiar name to Italians – personally, I only knew him from his brief role in PLANET OF THE APES [1968]!), Japanese Tetsuro Tamba (who's just as anonymous as Daly – perhaps the film's budget could afford only one foreign 'star') and, of course, Italians Bud Spencer (a staple of the genre and, thankfully, resorting only very briefly to his trademark comic brawling) and the youthful Nino Castelnuovo (who, naturally, sides with the Revolution all along). The supporting cast includes another genre contribution from Italian starlet Daniela Giordano (as a Mexican peasant girl who shows interest in samurai Tamba): her lovely presence is always welcome – and I still recalled the scene here in which the Army General tears off her clothes from all those years ago! – but it's not quite as captivating as in the two other films of hers that I've watched; there's also Giacomo Rossi-Stuart – who, for an actor of his stature, is given very little screen-time as a lieutenant to the Mexican General.

Having mentioned the surprise casting, one also has to question the decision behind offering the directorial reins to a minor-league American, former actor Taylor; incidentally, years later, when Giordano was asked by a magazine to comment about the film, she couldn't even recall him being on the set and that co-director Zingarelli handled most of the proceedings! Dario Argento was also behind this film as a scriptwriter – which makes the film's tameness all the more curious and, given its derivative nature, perhaps shows his ultimate disenchantment with the Spaghetti Western genre…or else he was already thinking of branching out into direction (his debut film, the seminal giallo THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE [1970], was released not long after). THE FIVE MAN ARMY is marked by yet another rousing Ennio Morricone score – which is cited by fans as being among his best from this era but, to me, it felt somewhat too similar to his work on Sergio Leone's "Dollars" trilogy!

Finally, I couldn't really determine the running-time of the film – since it was interrupted by numerous publicity spots (I watched a VHS recording of a TV broadcast); however, curiously enough, the Italian version is listed as being only 91 minutes long on "Stracult"…whereas the edition prepared for U.S. consumption is 107 minutes!


4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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