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Death Rides a Horse (1967)

Da uomo a uomo (original title)
A young gunfighter plans to track down and eliminate the bandits who killed his family, and forms a tenuous alliance with an aging ex-outlaw, till the surprising end.

Director:

Giulio Petroni

Writer:

Luciano Vincenzoni (script)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Van Cleef ... Ryan
John Phillip Law ... Bill Meceita
Mario Brega ... Walcott's Henchman in Waistcoat
Luigi Pistilli ... Walcott
Anthony Dawson ... Burt Cavanaugh
José Torres ... Pedro (as Jose Torres)
Franco Balducci Franco Balducci ... Sceriffo
Bruno Corazzari ... Walcott's Bartender
Felicita Fanny Felicita Fanny ... Martita
Ignazio Leone ... Ex-pastore
Carlo Pisacane ... Capostazione
Angelo Susani Angelo Susani ... Paco
Guglielmo Spoletini Guglielmo Spoletini ... Manuel
Vivienne Bocca Vivienne Bocca ... Sorella di Bill
Walter Giulangeli Walter Giulangeli ... Sr. Meceita
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Storyline

Before his very eyes, a young boy watches the cutthroats of a small gang raid his humble home, rape and slaughter his whole family. Fifteen years later, Bill Meceita, the once-helpless boy and the sole survivor of the massacre, has now become a cool and skilful sharpshooter, seeking revenge against the band of unknown killers. In the meantime, the seasoned gunslinger and freshly out of prison, Ryan, has already embarked on a journey of sweet retribution, unaware that before long, he will cross paths with Bill, sharing the same desire for justice. But what could possibly unite the two unlikely companions? Written by Nick Riganas

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

When You've Waited Fifteen Years To Find A Man... It's A Shame You Can Only Kill Him Once! See more »

Genres:

Western

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some western violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Italy

Language:

Italian

Release Date:

31 August 1967 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

As Man to Man See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bollywood hit Zanjeer starring Amitabh Bachhan,Jaya Bhaduri n Pran is inspired by this movie. See more »

Goofs

When Bill talks to the girl in the inn, before the bandits arrive, the long shot shows her face in shadows. When it goes to a closer shot, her right eye has was highlighted by sunlight. See more »

Quotes

Wolcott: I've been working at this for years. Building their confidence in me, the citizens, as well as the governor of this state. But the most important thing is that finally, believe it or not, I have in my bank more than a million dollars, now. The funds the state deposited with me in view of our future public works. What do you think, Ryan? Should I build their stupid old public works with this mountain of dollars?
[Walcott's bandits laugh]
Wolcott: Well, they don't think I should. I guess I'll have to go ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some versions, including the Japanese DVD release from SPO, are missing a single shot of a person being stabbed (in the opening sequence), cut by the censors on the film's first English language release in the 1960s. Subsequent DVD releases from MGM in Europe contain the uncut version, with the shot of the stabbing included in the film. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inglourious Basterds (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Death Rides A Horse
Composed by Maurizio Graf (as Attansio) and Ennio Morricone
Performed by Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Good movie, bad DVD
22 May 2004 | by EyeDunnoSee all my reviews

Death Rides a Horse is one that Spaghetti Western fans (and fans of Lee Van Cleef) would thoroughly enjoy. The FILM is most watchable (read below about the DVD and possible hopes for a Region 1 letterbox DVD release), and Van Cleef is at his best in this one, playing a thug who is betrayed by his com padres. We usually see him playing the ultimate bad guy in most of his films, with his knife-deep stare filling the screen. At times, though, Van Cleef exposes his compassionate side for just a tease, and then just as quickly masks his inner humanity behind The Stare, as he plays Ryan, who arm-wrestles throughout the movie with stubborn youngster Bill (John Phillip Law), who has forsaken his lady and his life by embracing only revenge - and a single spur - after watching his father murdered, only to then bear witness to his mother and older sister brutalized at the hands of an out-of-control gang, greedy for gold.

The match-up between Ryan and Bill is one that plays itself out quite well, as Ryan acts as surrogate father, dishing out advice through some memorable quotes, teaching young Bill with his words and actions. Bill's anger is worn heavily on his sleeve, while Ryan steadily and calmly works out his own dishes of revenge, suppressing his anger even better than his empathy for Bill, which he touches on even as the pair first meet. Phillip Law was okay, but not thoroughly convincing as a bitter young man who witnessed his family's killing. Every once in a while, he might could have done just another take or two, but it's an easy pill to swallow since Van Cleef balances him out.

I wouldn't want to go deeper into reviewing the movie, except that there's a nice plot twist somewhere inside the film. Many of the actors seen in this 1968 film have been in films by the great Sergio Leone. It seems that there was a core of actors who performed in a number of Italian Westerns, and for good reason: the chemistry was there. Add a good dose of Ennio Morricone film scores, and you have the potential for a quite watchable film. Most spaghetti's would be overcooked and unpalatable if not for Morricone music, which acts as an unseen, yet incredibly talented main character.

Once in a while, the dialog (like Bill's off-balance delivery: "I'll find out who he is. If he is who I think he is...get ready to get mad") detracts from the slow and steady pace of Death Rides a Horse (that line makes me want to Kill Bill, myself), but the overall storyline works well enough to entertain Spaghetti Western fans. There are very few plot holes to pick at in the film, which has an air of dread or darkness throughout much of its length. A lighter moment always seems to pop in just when the viewer might like to come up for air (like a character who offers Bill a kiss).

For those concerned about bad or unbelievable endings, Death Rides delivers without disappointment.

Now, for the DVD: Sadly, there seems to be no Region 1 release that does this nice yet overlooked film, justice. Mine, which is a 2-4-1 DVD with "God's Gun" on the same side, and "Quality" as the title logo, is horribly lacking in everything but bad quality, perhaps one of the worst DVD productions I have EVER seen. The letterboxed original, cropped to pan/scan, suffers from multi-generational degradation of image quality.

One particular scene that makes the argument to respect the director's intent by preserving a film's original screen aspect ratio is the card game between Bill and Burt Cavanaugh (Anthony Dawson). Watch as the camera pans the players. Terrible cuts were placed into the scene at the card table as the camera panned the players, in order to preserve timing since the film transfer is a TV format crop from letterbox. It's an unforgivable way to present such a scene, which can lead the viewer to believe that it was the fault of a lazy film editor, or an incompetent director . I can't wait to see the film in its original format.

There is not one frame in my DVD that has any kind of decent image quality with respect to color, tone, or saturation. Its terribly washed out and either too contrasty and bright, or too muddy and dark, and neither extreme results in any texture. And in some scenes, the image degrades to a pixelated mess, which you'll see in the opening scene, and it returns of and on throughout the presentation. The only reason I watch it again and again is to enjoy the Morricone tracks and view an entertaining film. MGM has released a PAL-Region 2 DVD, and subsequent DVD reviews suggest that they finally did "Death Rides a Horse" justice. It has the original letterbox (2.35:1) and infinitely better video quality. Search online for some businesses in the UK as I will, and once I get it, I'll burn my copy and play it in my region-free DVD player.


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