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Lee Van Cleef,
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A spaghetti western in which three adventurers team up during the Mexican Revolution. Mary O'Donnell, a radical Irish journalist, wants to foment a peasant revolt in Mexico. She enlists the help of a seedy bandit, Lozoya, by saving him from a death sentence in Utah. They meet a man calling himself Prince Dmitri Vassilovich Orlowsky, who claims to be a Russian prince, not to mention a man of the cloth. Wallach pretends to be a Mexican folk hero. The trio crosses the border, the two men seeking a cache of gold while O'Donnell pursues her revolution. Lozoya has the key to the gold, but Nero knows where the other half of the map is. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gonzo Euro Comedy Spaghetti Western Mishmash That Tries Too Hard
So the Spaghetti Western as a comedy. You know whatever, there are some great examples of the approach; the TRINITY films, the priceless TOO MUCH GOLD FOR ONE GRINGO, Giulio Petroni's under-appreciated TEPAPA, various parts of DUCK YOU SUCKER ... The formula works best when the filmmakers don't try too hard, simply allowing the conventions of the genre to be as absurd as they are naturally. Terence Hill's bottomless plate of beans from THEY CALL ME TRINITY comes to mind. Beans. Eating. Cowboys. Get it? LONG LIVE YOUR DEATH tries to announce itself as a "funny" movie from the first frame with an oddball musical score and still images of Franco Nero yukkin' it up as a Russian Prince pretending to be a minister and holding up the congregation at a wedding ceremony for what turns out to be proceeds to help fund the Mexican Revolution. He drives a car instead of riding a horse, packs an automatic pistol instead of a six-shooter, and after his automobile is wounded during a shootout he puts it out of it's misery with another bullet to the engine block.
Eli Wallach was of course hilarious as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY'S "Tuco", the poster child misfit Spaghetti Western serio-comic leading man, and is probably the film's greatest asset. Here he plays a two bit Mexican chicken thief who may or may not know the location of a fortune in gold, but finds himself sprung from jail by a pretty, perky Lynne Redgrave, who wants to find the revolutionaries a hero to lead their struggle & write a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper story about it. Nero and Wallach are good, but Redgrave is excellent and took her only Spaghetti Western performance to heart, trying a bit too hard, but we appreciate the effort.
So already we have several "fish out of water" plot threads, a couple of "mistaken identity" skeins, and ample opportunities for Wallach to mug for the camera while he eats food, tries to proposition Redgrave, and form an uneasy buddy alliance with Mr. Nero to find the gold. Just for added effect, Horst Jansen apes his rather wooden cinematic persona as a corrupt sheriff with back problems, Victor Isreal pops up as a mining executive with some rather eye opening thoughts about the Mexican workforce, and Eduardo Fajardo wanders in from some other film as an unscrupulous cavalry officer bent on capturing the mischievous trio & keeping the gold for himself. As usual.
A musical stopwatch gives composers Gianni Ferrio & Ennio Morricone an excuse to work yet another glockenspiel theme into their somewhat rushed sounding musical score, a sexy mute Spanish supporting actress gives Franco Nero someone to make googlie-eyes at, and director Duccio Tessari had a stable filled with scriptwriters to come up with all sorts of double-entrade laden dialog for Eli Wallach to belt out as quickly as possible when not running around jabbering excitedly and waving his arms in the air trying to be funny instead of just standing there being himself, which is hilarious all on it's own. What is amazing is that he manages to be constantly upstaged by Lynn Redgrave even though she never displays her breasts.
I am fairly certain the filmmakers had good intentions and talent to spare when cobbling this movie together and if it seems like I am just not getting into the spirit of things you are correct. I have nothing but respect for everyone involved in the production, which is a nearly tactless, transparent attempt to cash-in on the notoriety of DUCK YOU SUCKER, TEPAPA, ARRIVA SABATA!, HEADS YOU DIE TALES I KILL YOU: THEY CALL HIM HALLELUJA and every other would-be gonzo Mexican Revolutionary Spaghetti Western made between 1968 and 1974 or so.
The problem is that the number of jokes to be had about that conflict and it's ramifications was pretty much tapped out before DUCK YOU SUCKER entered it's fifteenth reel (I personally prefer TEPAPA with it's outrageous Thomas Millian performance as a prime example of the comic possibilities of the genre). And come to think of it, why do these Mexican Revolution Spaghettis all turn out to be social satires with gonzo comedy broken up by spats of war atrocity scenes? Are the Italians trying to tell us something about Mexico or the Mexicans that perhaps my liberal Eastern education failed to point out? Don't get me wrong, LONG LIVE YOUR DEATH is a fine movie with some entertaining parts, including another great Eli Wallach meal as he scarfs down some form of stew while describing his childhood kills to Nero in his cell. The problem is that this exchange -- the funniest in the movie -- happens in the first twelve minutes, and ninety minutes of additional "repeat and rinse" developments becomes nothing more than a bunch of Euro genre actors running around waving their arms & jabbering excitedly after a while. It gets old quickly, and as such this rather tired example of the later period of the Spaghetti boom is perhaps as obscure & hard to find as it deserves to be. Recommended for die-hard fans of the genre or those who have never seen one of the other examples. They shouldn't care.
4/10; You know your Spaghetti Western is in trouble when your best asset is upstaged by Lynn Redgrave with her shirt on.
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