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Comic western epic with plenty to recommend
Leofwine_draca16 January 2015
This early outing for Bud Spencer and Terence Hill sees the pair in fine form in a huge spaghetti western with loads of story, characters and tons of action to recommend it from the start. The meaty running time consists of dozens of plot twists, dupes, swindles and betrayals and the film never lets up from a spot-on pacing which holds the viewer's attention at all times. The three main ingredients for the film are drama, action and comedy and all are served up in spades. Obviously the Spencer/Hill relationship is played for laughs and both actors put in commendable performances; Hill as the Eastwood-style sharp-shooter, the intelligent member of the pairing, and Spencer as the clumsy but lovable oaf who's as strong as an ox and complements Hill's character perfectly.

The dramatic angle of the storyline comes in the sweaty form of Eli Wallach, reprising his role from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY as a bandit with a heart of gold who ends up being used and abused by those he considered to be his friends. Wallach's mission of justice makes up the bulk of the film and once again the actor puts in an excellent performance which hugely enhances the film. Writer/director Giuseppe Colizzi understands the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" in regard to Wallach's performances so gives the public more of what they have seen already in the Sergio Leone film and the result is no less successful. The script is unusually fine and lends plenty of comic banter and interplay to the scenes between the action sequences.

Speaking of action, there is plenty ranging from bloody boxing matches to more traditional shoot-outs, prison breaks, brawls and even a massive gun battle with a machine gun involved. The suspense is gradually upped for the genius climax, set in a dodgy gambling house as our heroes attempt to make themselves some cash by hiding in the loft and cellar and using the fixed roulette wheel for themselves with disastrous results. The film then plays its own ace by introducing arch-villain Drake, acted by American import Kevin McCarthy (INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS) as one of those slimy villains you just love to hate, and the resulting climax is wonderfully exciting.

Great use of widely differing music is made throughout the film from epic-sounding vocals to waltzes at the end! Technically the movie is proficient with a more than adequate budget put to good use in the sets and costumes; solid, slightly artistic photography; and well-staged action. One of the best I've seen from Spencer and Hill and a film guaranteed to please fans of the genre.
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A great comedy/western
christophaskell28 September 2003
The second, and in my opinion the best in the Cat Stevens/Hutch Bessy trilogy, ‘Ace High' has enough fun for everyone to come out and play. Everything from the heist to the violence was done in a light-hearted way, and without a hint of pretension. Eli Wallach joins the party for this film and, as a testament to the quality of actors involved, does not steal every scene he is in. He is par for the course, however, which means he does an outstanding job in a supporting role. Director Colizzi went on to direct a few more films, but overall had a short-lived career, which is unfortunate because he tells a great story, and doesn't shy away from adding humor in awkward places, or generally being a little unconventional. If you're a fan of spaghetti westerns you'll understand a lot of the humor herein, but even for the casual viewer there's plenty to keep you entertained. Rating: 26/40
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Ravioli and Fagioli Western from Giuseppe Colizzi trilogy with Terence Hill as Cat Stevens and Spencer as Hutch
ma-cortes21 March 2013
I Quattro dell'Ave Maria (original title) is an entertaining and amusing Macaroni Western starred by the notorious Italian couple , Hill and Spencer , pre-Trinity and Bambino . Likable Terence Hill and stocky Bud Spencer team up again as the valiant and enjoyable duo . The agreeable crew makes a new adventure movie plenty of fist-play , action , shootouts and entertainment . This fun Pipperone Western deals with our intimate friends in Far West , they're two bank-robbers , the blue-eyes and sympathetic Terence Hill as Cat Stevens and a grumpy and goofy Bud Spencer as Hutch . Then appears Cacopoulos (Eli Wallach) , a cunning thief who arranges to save himself from being hung on a fake charge , as he breaks out and steals Cat Stevens (Mario Girotti or Terence Hill , Massimo Giroti'son ) and Hutch Bessy (Carlo Perdesoli or Bud Spencer) a lot of cash and he also robs their horses . This results in a merry pursuit and Stevens and Bessy turn into unwilling allies in Cacopoulus' vendetta against the people who double-crossed him and accused him to get their loot back . Cat Stevens and Hutch unite Cacopoulus , after that , the trio joins forces with a circus artist (Brock Peters) taking on nasties . Nevertheless , the cruel baddie is still alive and seeks avenge , he is a relentless saloon owner (Kevin MacCarthy of Invasion of the body snatchers) and supported by ominous hoodlums .

This funny story contains crossfire , the usual slight fights and a little bit of action , pursuits and circus spectacle . The humor is based on physical and personality differences of the starring , as Terence Hill is the sympathetic and brave hero and Bud Spencer is the corpulent and hunk man . The movie contains gun-play , action Western , bloody spectacle and fist-fights . The film isn't always good , sometimes is fresh and diverting and on a couple of memorable occasions , it's frankly delicious . Terence Hill as a two-fisted gunslinger and Spencer as a bouncing hunk are good but still not personified the Trinity hero characters . Later on , the 'big time' duo of Spaghetti Western with humor such as ¨They call me Trinity¨, ¨ Trinity is still my name ¨ and sequels as ¨Troublemakers¨ were run out and for that reason were transfered in modern era film , playing the police/action genre and adventures as ¨All the way boys¨ also titled ¨Plane crazy¨ ; after that , they starred the successful ¨ Miami police series ¨, which belong the followings : ¨Crime Busters¨ , ¨Superfuzz¨ and ¨Supercops in Miami¨. However , being the great American actor Eli Wallach from ¨Actor's Studio¨ who steals the show as Cacopoulus , a similar role to Tucco he performed in ¨The good , the bad and the ugly¨ . At the picture appears customary Spaghetti secondaries who played ordinary characters as villains in numerous Spanish/Italian Western as Livio Lorenzon as Paco Rosa , Steffen Zacharias as Harold , Rick Boyd as Drake's blond henchman , Bruno Corazzari as Charlie , Frank Braña and Riccardo Pizzuti ,habitual secondary in Hill-Spencer films . The movie is finely photographed by director of photography Marcello Masciocchi , and of course is shot in Almeria , Spain, location where were filmed hundreds of Western in the 60s and 70s . Evocative as well as atmospheric musical score by the usual Carlo Rustichelli , conducted by Bruno Nicolai , ordinary collaborator to Ennio Morricone .

The motion picture was regularly directed and produced by Giuseppe Colizzi . Giuseppe directed a trilogy starred by Hill and Spencer as Cat Stevens and Hutch Bessy respectively . The first , superior and the best outing was ¨Dio Perdona..¨ with Frank Wolf and Jose Luis Martin ; this second installment also titled ¨Four gunmen of Ave Maria¨ or ¨Ace high¨ with the great Eli Wallach and more camp tendencies ; and the third is ¨Boot Hill¨ with Woody Strode , Eduardo Ciannelli , George Eastman , Alberto DellÁcqua and Romano Puppo . A bit later on , Colizzi again directed Hill and Spencer at an adventure movie titled ¨Più Forte, Ragazzi!" or ¨All the Way Boys" or "Plane Crazy" , USA title . Giuseppe subsequently realized another buddy movie ¨Joe and Margherito¨ with Keith Carradine and Tom Skerrit , being his last movie a real flop titled ¨Switch¨ , starred by Annie Belle , until his early death at fifty years old . The flick will appeal to famous pair fans , in fact , this was the second teaming of Terence Hill and Bud Spencer .
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Delightful Romp
ndrejaj19693 March 2002
A Leone pasta western without the pretentiousness. Easy going romp of crosses, double crosses, and triple crosses. Wallach is just fine and dandy reprising his Tuco role from GOOD, THE BAD... this time playing an ethnic Greek-Mexican bandit with a Yiddish accent (oy vey) manipulating ol' buddies Hill & Spencer into a scheme to get back at the people who left him out to dry years back. Along the way they pick up acrobat (!) Brock Peters who becomes crucial to their plan. Kevin McCarthy is the target of their wrath. The film concludes with a satisfying round-up. Colizzi directs with a sure hand, even allowing New York method actor Wallach to kvetch for several minutes at a time. No wonder he returned to Italy and Spain from time to time to make these films. No where else would a director allow his star to chew the scenery in such a way. The comedy is not broad or overpowering as most films in this sub-genre tend to be. The characters are uncharacteristically likeable, thanks to the cast. Great scene: revelutionaries mete out rough justice to a town's leaders. Later, our trio, with the help of some greedy peasants retake the town and mete out the same justice to the revolutionaries!!! I've never seen that done in a Euro-western.
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wonderful movie
42zaphod24 May 2004
I was completely amazed by this fantastic movie. I am not sure why - it isn't any much funny, the plot is unnecessarily complicated, there are few unnecessarily long scenes ... but still, the characters, the atmosphere, and the great musical score almost made me cry in the last scene where our three heroes are leaving together. All the actors do great work - from Spencer/Hill duo and Wallach himself to the black boxer champion, who gets beaten by Bud Spencer for $50. Another funny scene is where Wallach talks about his Greek ancestors, and thus makes his guards sleep. Or, when he breaks the bank in the casino. The movie is definitely worth seeing, and it does not disappoint even when watched more times. Nice!
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Has all the trademarks and weaknesses of the genre and may not suffice for the casual viewer
bob the moo4 August 2006
When he escapes the noose, criminal Cacopoulos flees the charges against him and, on his way, robs two banker robbers – Cat Stevens (no, a different one) and Hutch Bessy. Unwilling to kill the two men, Cacopoulos heads off with the money while Cat and Hutch begin the long walk out of the desert. Getting back to civilisation, they vow to track down Cacopoulos and get their money back. They start their search for him but meanwhile Cacopoulos is also bent on revenge on those that betrayed him – and plans to get Cat and Hutch to help, whether they know about it or not.

Screened under the main English title of Ace High, I recorded this film on late night TV hoping for a typical spaghetti western. While that is pretty much what I got, I must confess to being a bit put off by how silly it was at times. I know it was meant to be a comedy of sorts but it didn't sit very well with the spaghetti western genre because it made aspects of that feel like they had been badly done, as opposed to done for laughs. The plot is solid enough but the running time is too long for the material to sustain, making many scenes feel dragged out beyond their intended time. The action (as in movement generally) also suffers because of this perceived slow pace.

The cast are suitable for the genre, but this is not the same as being any good. Eli Wallach has fun in the central role and his performance is good value. I couldn't shake the feeling that Hill had borrowed his performance from many other actors but hadn't been sure how to make it work for him; he didn't really have the screen presence required to carry off the character. Spencer is better in terms of presence but his performance is a bit wanting. The support cast are all so-so, which works within the genre and as always much of the dialogue has that strange bad ADR/bad dubbing feel to it that I think is a prerequisite for the spaghetti genre.

Overall this is an enjoyable enough spaghetti western but if you only know the Eastwood, "Fist Full" or Leone spaghetti films then you'll probably come away thinking this is a low-rent version of those (which I suppose it is). With all the trademarks and weaknesses of the genre, this one will most likely please fans but probably not the casual viewer.
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Great fighting movie
bevo-136781 April 2020
Don't you hate it when a good punch up movie is spoiled by a hard to follow plot or meaningful dialogue??? Well this isn't one of those
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Tough boys Hill and Spencer
Petey-106 March 2007
The comical duo Bud Spencer and Terence Hill are teamed with a likable crook played by Eli Wallach.Hill as Cat Stevens and Spencer as Hutch Bessy show the western people what they are made of.Wallach as Cacopoulos is fantastic with the stories about his grandfather.And another veteran actor Kevin McCarthy makes a great character as Cacopoulos' third enemy, the sniveling casino owner Drake.All these people work great together in Ace High from 1968.There are some great scenes in this western comedy.Bud boxing with the champion is brilliant.Guess who wins.The sequence in the end with the roulette table and the violin...beautiful, just beautiful.These movies bring me back to my childhood, back to the early 90's.Those were the days Bud Spencer and Terence Hill ruled the world.
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Aces good
westerner35713 May 2005
(aka: ACE HIGH)

Eli Wallach plays Cacopoulos, a generous bandit who gives away all he steals to those less off than he is. That is, until he steals $300,000 from bounty hunters Cat Stevens and Hutch Bessy (Terence Hill and Bud Spencer) who then come trailing after him all over the southwest (or in this case, Almeria Spain) and want their money back.

When they catch up with him, Cacopoulos let's them in on his primary motive. To get back at three men who double-crossed him 15 years before, letting him get caught and sent to prison. He already killed one, and the other was killed in a Mexican shootout earlier in the film. That only leaves Drake (Kevin McCarthy) and since Cacopoulos had already gambled all Hill & Spencer's money away in Drake's gambling establishment, it's only natural that they help Cacopoulos out in getting their money back.

Reluctantly, Hill & Spencer agree and with the help of circus tightrope walker Thomas (Brock Peters), they stumble onto the fact that Drake's establishment has the roulette wheel fixed, with lookouts in the ceiling and a magnet in basement room under the roulette wheel itself. Needless to say, Drake will get his just reward for ripping the town off with his fixed gambling tables and Cacopoulos will get his revenge. I won't say how so you'll have to see for yourself.

The first half of this film is pretty standard, but the second half involving Drake is where the film really distinguishes itself, imo. It turns into a caper yarn. It also has it's funny moments but isn't as humorous as Hill & Spencer's later spaghetti western; THEY CALL ME TRINITY (1971). Btw, this is their second appearance together, the first being GOD FORGIVES, I DON'T from the year before.

The anamorphic Paramount DVD uses an excellent print although I think the widescreen is a bit too cropped on both top and bottom. Sound is also good with English subtitles (if necessary) and another excellent score by Bruno Nicolai.

If you like the genre with a little humor thrown in, then you might like this one. I did. Above average.

7 out of 10 -
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One of the better spaghetti westerns!!!
zardoz-1313 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"Ace High" (1968) qualifies as one of the better hybrid action/comedy spaghetti westerns that followed in the wake of Sergio Leone's trend-setting bounty hunter movie "A Fistful of Dollars." Variously titled overseas as either "Revenge In El Paso" or "Four Gunmen of Ave Maria," this handsomely-produced, elaborately-staged, sun-drenched, shoot'em up shares something in common with the Lee Van Cleef oater "Death Rides A Horse" (1968) in that our lice-ridden hero (EIi Wallach) got double-crossed by his outlaw buddies and left behind for the law to catch while they made good their escape. A two-bit bandit of Greek heritage, Cacopoulos winds up serving fifteen years in prison. Once he gets out of prison, he is framed by crooked banker Harold ("Trinity" alumnus Steffen Zacharias in a dramatic role) for a murder that he didn't commit, and then sentenced to hang by the neck. Although this Giuseppe Colizzi written & directed effort contains about as many twists and turns as a diamond-back rattlesnake, the scripting is often haphazard but nevertheless entertaining. Our heroes participate briefly in the Mexican revolution, a favorite theme of late 1960s and early 1970s spaghetti westerns, which hikes the body count substantially. Italian western buffs who aren't familiar with this well choreographed dustraiser need to saddle up and watch the bare bones Paramount DVD with enhanced widescreen to see what other less well-known helmers were doing with the genre while Leone rode herd over sagebrushers.

For the record, blue-eyed Terence Hill plays Cat Stevens (like the folk singer but no relation to him) and Bud Spencer co-stars as Hutch, his beefy, barrel-chested sidekick who shuns a Stetson. They are an arresting pair to watch in their sweaty, greasy, western outfits, on horseback in the blinding sun prancing around mainly on the plains of Almeria, Andalucia, Spain, where veteran cinematographer Marcello ("Assignment Outer Space" & "The Stranger Returns") Masciocchi lensed this sprawling western in widescreen splendor. A clue to its filming location is the lopsided anvil-shaped mountain in the background that dominates the long scenes not only in "Ace High" but also "For A Few Dollars More" and "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" the way that the Paramount logo mountain stood out against the studio sets in the old "Bonanza" TV series. Another dead giveaway that this is a foreign western is the perfectly synchronized but too cool dubbing of Hill and Spencer. Their perfectly modulated dialogue foreshadows the dubbing on anime adventures of the 1990s. Some of the dialogue sounds like it was translated into the English by foreigners, because nobody would talk that way, but that's what makes Italian movies of any genre so much fun.

Actually, "Ace High" is the second entry in the only cinematic trilogy that Hill and Spencer starred in. Remember, they only did two "Trinity" movies together. "Ace High" picks up where Colizzi's "God Forgives, But I Don't" wrapped up with the explosive death of bandit Bill San Antonio (American expatriate Frank Wolff of "A Stranger In Town"). Our heroes trundle into town with a wagon load of gold, $300-thousand, and try to collect the bounty on Bill, though all they have of him is his boots and hat. When they cannot convince the law as to the authenticity of their claim, they traipse over to Harold's Bank and blackmail him into giving them an undisclosed fortune that Hutch at least plans to retire on and run a small ranch. Seems that the late Bill San Antonio and Harold were in co-hoots in stealing from the bank. Spaghetti westerns always had more plot than they needed. One of the neat touches that occur through "Ace High" is little bits and pieces like the dusty boot prints that Cat and Hutch leave when they saunter across Harold's blood red carpet in this upstairs office. Meanwhile, Harold springs Cacopoulos and hopes that he will kill Cat and Hutch. Caco does steal their newly acquired fortune, but not before he deals with the slippery as a rattlesnake Harold, one of the three men who set him afoot after a bank robbery. Anyway, Cat and Hutch chase Caco across the parched southwest and run across a traveling circus sideshow Thomas (Brock Peters) who performs high-wire (in this case—rope) acts. Eventually, all team up to rob a casino—think a lean, mean, "Ocean's Eleven" with only one casino. The music is pure spaghetti. "Ace High" is tops!
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too early, Giuseppe!
elvinjones26 August 2002
giuseppe colizzi was a fine underrated director dead too early that invented the characters of Spencer-Hill. Differently from E.B.Clucher, Hill is more Eastwood-way then Trinità but the substance is the same. Colizzi was a well competent director, more american then italian, with strong sense of spectacule and correct with the particulars. In Italy is very underrated, I don't know why. "Ace high" is, probably, his best western. It's also hard to see his movies in tv. You can only see every summertime "Arrivano Joe e Margherito", but this is not his best. I hope one day critics rediscover the art of this modest, hard worker artigian of the screen.
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Well, no. Money corrupts men, it softens him. So to keep you young and pure, I think I'll take everything.
hitchcockthelegend16 December 2019
Ace High is directed by Giuseppe Colizzi and Colizzi co-writes the screenplay with Bino Cicogna. It stars Eli Wallach, Terence Hill, Bud Spencer, Brock Peters and Kevin McCarthy. Music is by Carlo Rustichelli and cinematography by Marcello Masciocchi (Technicolor/Techniscope of course).

After Cacopoulos (Wallach) manages to save himself from being hung on a false charge, he robs Cat Stevens (Hill) and Hutch Bessy (Spencer) of a lot of money and steals their horses. This results in a merry chase and Stevens and Bessy become unwilling allies in Cacopoulus' revenge against the people who deserted him and framed him towards the rope...

Is it a spoof or a parody? Well I'll leave that to the hard core Spag Western fans to decide, what I do know is that it's good entertainment. Plenty of daft sub-genre staples are adhered to, as are the many cool action sequences as our gruff anti-heroes go about their greed and revenge fuelled ways.

Colizzi wisely keeps his cards close to his chest as regards our trio of lead characters, who in true Spag convention are making it unclear where we are heading. The action is wonderfully kinetic, with some sterling sequences unfolding when our leads get involved in a Texan/Mexican battle. Why I'm still not so sure, but it's exciting stuff!

It's all very derivative, there's no getting away from that, and as the genre often does, it renders the porotags/antags under developed. Yet for fans of such fare this is well recommended, with lovely cinematography that gives some authenticity to the era, Wallach channelling a Tuco clone, and Hill and Spencer doing their Spaghetti Abbot and Costello thing, it's all good really. 7/10
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Not even close to bullseye Warning: Spoilers
"I quattro dell'Ave Maria" or " Four Gunmen of Ave Maria" is an Italian (mostly) Italian-language movie from 1968, so this means that the outcome we have here is already comfortably over half a century old, but sadly also means at the very same time that most of the people working on this one are long gone now, but at least they left us their craft. With this film here and also some others. The original version is over 130 minutes long even, but the most common ones shown nowadays on television or even at some retro theater are minimally under two hours long and this includes the one I watched today. This film is actually the middle part of a trilogy and I watched the third (and final) film a while ago too and like that one more than this one here I must say. The first one I will find a way to catch at some point as well. Director and writer of all three films was Giuseppe Colizzi and it's these films really that he is most known for nowadays still. Admittedly, he really was not a prolific filmmaker from any perspective. And the real reason why this film is not forgotten is the cast of course, not the filmmaker behind it. Spencer and Hill will probably still be known (at least here in Germany) 500 or even 100 years from now and Eli Wallach has such amazing recognition value and of course people immediately think of his Clint Eastwood film (with Clint as an actor) when hearing his name. I like all three of them, probably love Spencer even, so it made me a bit sad that the story here did not do justice to the cast. This also includes Brock Peters that most people will know maybe from "To Kill a Mockingbird", but it is a bit of a joke that he is one of the four here because his screen time is so limited and he is barely in this movie at all. Strangely enough, it's Spencer though who did not receive one of the first four credits. That one went to Kevin McCarthy who plays the main antagonist here, but sadly his character is also not memorable at all and the final scene does not make up for that.

As for Spencer, it may be because he was far from the star he become in the 1970s and 1980s then. With him you can certainly say that his western years were the more (if not most) forgettable years from his career. He is really more of a ruthless brute for the most part and clearlly plays second fiddle to Hill, in it for some decent fight moment here and there and some comic relief, but not much else. The best example is the scene when he thinks he hallucinates because of his drink, but it's really Wallach's character there. And the latter also tricks him with his gun of course. And Hill's character has the advantage anyway in terms of how he is smart. Sadly, the good moments for Spencer are a rarity here. One really brief, but really funny inclusion, was when he called a family of people with red hair (i.e. Gingers) fire alarms. I liked it because of how politically incorrect it was too. I guess they could get in trouble in 2021 if they include this in a new movie. Kinda shameful. But yeah, in the first half Spencer still has an okay brawl scene when he stands up for a guy whose bird got shot, but in the second half, where this film gets worse, he is as forgettable as everything else. Even there the moment when he keeps slapping a prisoner was so weak compared to the energy he usually brings to scenes like this one.

As for Hill, I cannot say much more about him either. He is maybe even more forgettable really. What could be added is that they may be thugs, but they never hurt decent people as you can see from the fact how they defend women and Blacks as well. By the way, some of the characters (also the Black fella) return for the third film too. As for Wallach's character, he is also not an evil man or so. You can see that from the way he is introduced already. He is freed by these two men who kill the guard in cold blood and he kills them immediately afterwards, so he is also certainly a bit of a tough guy. We find that out again when he manages to trick Spencer's and Hills's characters and steals their horses. This scene was still okay, also how Spencer keeps saying he should shoot him or his revenge will be a bloodbath. However, this inclusion was also one of the most negative aspects because with all the anger Spencer's character was carrying around (directed at Wallach's character), it is so difficult to believe that they work together quickly afterwards, even if it's not a deep friendship or something. And a little later, Hill's character even joins them and maybe in the final shot when they are riding off, they really have become friends. With the earlier animosities, it just did not feel too credible to me at all. But what can you say?..Had the quality stayed the same as it was in the first half, i would certainly have liked this film more and perhaps even given it another two stars, which would have resulted in a positive recommendation.

The casino/roulette idea in the second half, well, it was not among the worst inclusions, but thinking about how much I like casino scenes in Bond films for example (that franchise had also started at that point), this one here was underwhelming with the fateful number 13 and how the corrupt casino owner/gangster gets his fair share in the end from those who lost money to him. I must say this film did drag a lot at times and the sometimes fine sceneries, sets and cinematography cannot make up for that on their own. I am glad I did not have to watch another 15 minutes here. Kinda sad that they could not turn the quality cast into a quality movie this time. I really, really wanted this to be better, but my finall verdict here would be a thumbs-down. Admittedly, from a subjective perspective it also felt a bit strange here and there to see Spencer's character being dominated (at least for a moment) in fight sequences, like against the big Black guy when they fight for this sum of money. Anyway, kinda funny how amounts of money that are really peanuts nowadays meant so much to people back then. Okay, this is all now, actually maybe this is even a better watch if you don't know too much about Spencer and Hill and their legacy of comedy films, so you go see this one with a more open mind. It's very different compared to those, not only because of the characters, but also because this does get more violent at times and is not just about funny punching. People die in here. Then again, it is a western, so it's gotta be this way I suppose. Not even close to the best western movies from the 1960s, probably not even to the better ones. Morricone is also missing here and it shows a bit. Watch something else instead.
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very delightful western comedy
Frank-8725 May 1999
fun, fun, fun; well made in every detail; fantastic score, beautiful photography, story with twists, lots of action, fun actors - having fun doing the movie and being fun to watch, this western comedy is a delight. By the way; I'm NOT exaggerating. One of the Hill/Spencer highlights.
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A Plot with Several Strange Detours
Uriah4318 May 2017
This film essentially begins with a man named "Cacopoulos" (Eli Wallach) sitting in jail waiting to be hung for a murder he didn't commit. Fortunately, he manages to escape and then proceeds to rob two drifters named "Cat" (Terence Hill) and "Hutch" (Bud Spencer) of a large amount of gold that they had just acquired from a bank the day before. Needless to say, wanting their money back both Cat and Hutch set out in the same direction as Cacopoulous in an effort to track him down before he can spend all of it. However, once they catch up to him he agrees to return the money if they can help him get revenge on the people who set him up. Unfortunately, this proves to be more complicated than any of them initially imagined. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this film is a sequel to the movie "God Forgives...I Don't!" which is probably best to see first in order to gain a better understanding of the overall course of events. It is also followed by another sequel "Boot Hill" which was produced a year later. In any case, although the film contained some pretty good actors I thought that the plot took too many strange detours which caused the film to lose some of its coherence. Because of that I have rated the film accordingly. Average.
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Eli is the ACE...
Manco26 June 1999
Character actor Eli Wallach is the real treat here as he carries his Tuco role from "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" over to "Ace High." This is a pre-Trinity pairing of Spencer, Hill and most of the fun and hilarity is carried on the able shoulders of Eli Wallach, who is more than up for the assignment. Wallach steals every scene he's in and this only means total enjoyment for the viewer. A must see for all western fans!
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"They sure got nasty folks around here".
classicsoncall16 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I think another reviewer for the film here got it right, it's got the trademarks of a spaghetti Western but may not suffice for the casual viewer. I felt the recurring double crosses got tedious after a while and the story lasted a lot longer than it needed to in order to get to the final resolution. I've seen enough of these European Westerns to realize the circus elements are par for the course but even so, it was a little distracting to see that marching band come through town and the principal characters ride past an assemblage of colorful blocks in the middle of the desert - what were they supposed to be? I've seen the Hill-Spencer team up in a couple of other films ( "Boot Hill", "God Forgives...I Don't") and I just don't see the chemistry. Eli Wallach is your main reason for tuning in here, and he's a pretty endearing sort of outlaw except that one time when he said "I spit on your mother".
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Better than usual spaghetti Western with Wallach in top form
adrianovasconcelos1 October 2020
Scoundrel Wallach, who has been duped and robbed by an even greater scoundrel (Kevin McCarthy), dupes and robs the likeable Hill-Spencer duo. Wallach steals the show with a great performance, in line with those of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Somewhat overlong and over-elaborate spaghetti Western which plods in parts, with a rather taciturn Hill, not at all the smiling rogue we would all see in the TRINITY movies, and a budding Spencer showing the attributes that would earn him the part of Bambino in the aforementioned TRINITY flicks.

Colizzi's direction is borderline satisfactory (should have done better with all the acting talent at hand), and photography is strictly spaghetti standard.

Great fun watching Wallach. 8/10
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Cedric_Catsuits10 July 2006
I am a huge fan of the three main stars of this movie - Wallach, Spencer & Hill - so it is with sadness that I have to report negatively on it. Even as a sort of benign curiosity, it fails to work for me. This is a very poor imitation of spaghetti westerns such as 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly', and Wallach tries hard - but ultimately fails - to successfully re-create a Tuco-style character here. Hill is a good-looking, charismatic chap, but he's no Clint Eastwood. He and Spencer are magnificent together in more honest, comic capers like 'Watch Out, We're Mad' but this movie tries to be something it's not - stylish.

I guess it proves how brilliant Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone are together, and how futile it is to attempt to copy their works. If nothing else it proves the old adage - stick to what you're good at.
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"Money corrupts men, it softens him. So, to keep you young and pure, I think I'll take everything."
Hey_Sweden5 January 2018
"Ace High" is an adequate example of the Spaghetti Western genre that top-bills Eli Wallach as Cacopoulos, a bandit released from jail who's determined to avenge himself since his partners had abandoned him. He doesn't exactly endear himself to bounty hunters Cat Stevens (Terence Hill) and Hutch Bessy (Bud Spencer) when he takes their money and decides to share the wealth with those less fortunate. Yet, they all hook up (along with Thomas, an acrobat played by Brock Peters), in various attempts to get rich.

Directed by Giuseppe Colizzi, this so-so film lacks the mastery of Sergio Leone, and doesn't tell a particularly interesting story (at least, not one that sustains itself for over two hours). Its action scenes are decently executed, but not numerous. It does bear some of the trademarks of its genre, such as the impressive widescreen photography and an appropriately melodic music score (by Carlo Rustichelli). However, it's really the sense of humour that is the films' strong suit, as it does get reasonably amusing at times. It also travels a fair distance on the chemistry between the charismatic star trio. Wallach is amiable as the slippery rascal who makes guards fall asleep to the tales of his Greek heritage. Of course, it's always a pleasure to witness the Hill-Spencer pairing. Peters has an engaging presence as well. However, if you're intrigued by the casting of Kevin McCarthy in such a lark, be advised that he doesn't show up until an hour and 46 minutes into the story.

The unorthodox robbery of a casino during the climax does help "Ace High" stand out a little bit. It may plod too much, and it never gets truly exciting, but overall it's pleasant enough to make it acceptable viewing.

Six out of 10.
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Mediocre spaghetti Western.
gridoon11 October 2003
Bud Spencer and Terence Hill click perfectly as a team and Eli Wallach, obviously enjoying himself, provides some funny moments. But the plot is so rambling that for about the first three quarters of the running time (a slow 120 minutes) it is never entirely clear what the various characters are trying to accomplish; they simply seem to be going from one place to another. It all gets more involving in the last 30 minutes or so, but still, if you're not a VERY dedicated fan of the genre, you can safely miss this one - it is nothing special. (**)
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Outwitting the outwitted.
mark.waltz5 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This Spaghetti Western comedy is mostly a lively live action version of the Road Runner / Bugs Bunny cartoons with Eli Wallach hysterically funny as the Bugs / Road Runner character, outwitting a group of fellow outlaws every chance he gets after he claims a reward for a bank robbery that they were about to claim themselves. But Wallach shouldn't underestimate some of the people that become involved in his little scheme, especially Brock Peters and Kevin McCarthy. As for the others (Terence Hill and Bud Spencer), well, they get pretty much what happened to the coyote and Elmer Fudd.

Probably one of the first westerns that I can recall having a waltz as it's score, this is a gorgeous spaghetti western, filled with action and violence, yet funny and fortunately missing unnecessary sexual innuendo. This is about the chase, and sometimes, the chased and the chaser sit down to have a little chat. It keeps you in suspense, has a lot of nice little twists and turns, and it is a pleasant surprise among the many films of its type to come out of the 1960's.
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Oh look, another underrated spaghetti western
andiarrhonds21 February 2022
Movie was worth it for Terence Hill and Eli Wallach alone.

Not sure why anyone would rate this so low. Yes, its obviously not a big budget film, but the actors and the setting are some of the best. People like this just dont exist anymore. Its such a unique style of film from a period of time never coming back. Young Terence Hill is perhaps one of the most stone cold hombres I've ever seen. Its such a perfect casting. And Wallach... Wallach is always pleasant to behold. The film is not bad at all despite the use of dubbed voices. True, the acting is perhaps not the most vibrant, but I dont look at this as a shortcoming at all. I think it only adds the overall character of the film.

I'm so disappointed in the current user rating being under 7.0. I just cant understand why this would be. Doesn't feel right.

My personal and realistic rating as a fan of westerns from the early 1930s, and all the way up into 1979, would be a score of 8.5.

However I'm giving it a full 10 score here in hopes it might someday elevate this current and low user rating. It deserves it.
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Ace High!
BandSAboutMovies31 October 2022
Warning: Spoilers
I quattro dell'Ave Maria, which means The Four of the Hail Mary, this is the second film in between God Forgives... I Don't and Boot Hill, this starts with Cat and Hutch (Terence Hill and Bud Spencer) arriving in El Paso and getting mixed up with Cacopoulos (Eli Wallach), who takes $300,000 from them and goes on the run, but the three eventually have to come together.

There's also Kevin McCarthy from Invasion of the Body Snatchers as a bad guy, as well as a role for Brock Peters from Porgy and Bess and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Director and writer Giuseppe Colizzi is the one that got Hill and Spencer together, which is a genius thing, and Spencer never wanted to be a comedic actor - I mean, the guy was a polymath. An Olympic swimmer, water polo champion, an attorney, an inventor, a pilot and a singer. Fate found him forever cast as a "grumpy strong-arm man with a blessed, naive child's laughter and a golden heart."

I can watch Spencer and Terence Hill movies all day, into the next day and into the next week. This is a more serious story for them as they had not yet become as devoted to comedy as movies like They Call Me Trinity would take the team.
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ACE HIGH (Giuseppe Colizzi, 1968) **
Bunuel197612 June 2008
One can see the influence of Sergio Leone writ large all over this large-scale Spaghetti Western (and not just in the casting of Eli Wallach from THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY [1966]) – but Colizzi doesn’t in any way show a comparable talent! The director also receives sole writing credit, which rather explains the film’s relentless self-indulgence – padding a wafer-thin plot with lame attempts at characterization and dreary passages of local color!

The film happens to be the second teaming of popular Italian brawling duo Terence Hill and Bud Spencer (the first – GOD FORGIVES…I DON’T [1967] – was actually a prequel to this!) but Hill’s atypical glum countenance robs the film of some much-needed charisma. Incidentally, neither title – American (which places an emphasis on the gambling subplot which comes into play only during the last third) or original, which roughly translates to FOUR GUNMEN OF AVE MARIA – is really satisfactory…but, then, neither is the film itself: one isn’t bothered by the sluggish pacing and extreme length of Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, but that certainly can’t be said here! Mind you, being a vintage outing, it’s moderately watchable and, at least, the print (via the Paramount DVD – how they suddenly felt the urge to release this I’ll never know!) was very nice…in contrast to its follow-up, BOOT HILL (1969), which I recently viewed by way of a horridly panned-and-scanned Public Domain edition.

Anyway, the plot involves “lice-infected jailbird” Wallach being sprung from jail by a corrupt banker to retrieve a sum of money ‘stolen’ from him by Hill and Spencer; there follows an endless series of chases and double-crosses – with occasional interjections from black tightrope-walker Brock Peters and, it goes without saying, numerous stops for the duo’s trademark brawling antics. Eventually, the four join forces to clean up the gambling-house owned by Wallach’s long-time enemy (and former partner) Kevin McCarthy: this is an elaborate and mildly suspenseful sequence – climaxed by a shoot-out between the gang and McCarthy and his (anonymous-looking) henchmen on either side of the gambling table during a particularly busy night. The soundtrack is, once again, the handiwork of Carlo Rustichelli – but, while serving its purpose, isn’t especially remarkable within the impressive pantheon of Spaghetti Western scores…
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