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The Price of Power (1969)

Il prezzo del potere (original title)
The Pinkerton detective agency uncovers a plot to assassinate President James Garfield in 1881 Texas. The film, a "political" Spaghetti, is a very overt mirroring of the JFK Assassination in 1963.


Tonino Valerii


Massimo Patrizi (story and screenplay)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Giuliano Gemma ... Bill Willer
Warren Vanders Warren Vanders ... Arthur McDonald
María Cuadra María Cuadra ... Lucretia Garfield (as Maria Cuadra)
Ray Saunders ... Jack Donavan (as Rai Saunders)
Fernando Rey ... Pinkerton
Antonio Casas ... Mr. Willer
Benito Stefanelli Benito Stefanelli ... Sheriff Jefferson
María Luisa Sala María Luisa Sala ... Governor's Wife (as Maria Luisa Sala)
Ángel Álvarez ... J. B. Cotton (as Angel Alvarez)
Massimo Carocci Massimo Carocci ... Anthony Ward
Norma Jordan Norma Jordan ... Anne Goddard
Ángel del Pozo ... Lawyer (as Angel Del Pozo)
Julio Peña ... Governor of Texas
Franco Meroni Franco Meroni
Luis Rico Luis Rico


The Pinkerton detective agency uncovers a plot to assassinate President James Garfield in 1881 Texas. The film, a "political" Spaghetti, is a very overt mirroring of the JFK Assassination in 1963.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE KILLER AND THE TARGET relentlessly moving towards the date with death that would rock the nation. See more »




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Italy | Spain



Release Date:

18 December 1969 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

The Price of Power See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Patry Film, Films Montana See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Van Johnson's voice is dubbed by another actor in the English language version. See more »


President James Garfield: I could never feel like the President of the United States if I couldn't visit freely ALL of those United States.
See more »


Referenced in The Spaghetti West (2005) See more »

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User Reviews

THE PRICE OF POWER (Tonino Valerii, 1969) ***
8 September 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

I was unfamiliar with this film, until I saw it included in a list of the Top 20 Spaghetti Westerns I recently came across (following the marathon I made these last few weeks of films from the subgenre); it was auspicious, then, that the film had to turn up almost immediately on late-night Italian TV (for the first time, I'm pretty sure, in a good number of years)!

Unfortunately, the cable reception of the channel on which it was broadcast hasn't been great lately: I recorded the film on VHS but I decided not to keep it due to this factor; as it happened, the very next day I watched the film, I found out that it was available on a Region 2 DVD from Italy (featuring an interview with uncredited scriptwriter Ernesto Gastaldi) - and, having been sufficiently impressed, I decided to order it there and then, even if I knew that I wouldn't be getting to the DVD for quite a while as I like to allow some time between one viewing of a film and the next! A brief parenthesis here: when I recently purchased a spate of Spaghetti Westerns on Italian DVD, I opted not to order Sergio Sollima's FACE TO FACE (1967), since I was under the impression that it was a bare-bones affair; however, I've just learned that the disc actually contains an interview with the director (as had been the case with THE BIG GUNDOWN [1966], which I bought). It did seem baffling to me that Sollima wouldn't offer similar contribution to that film's DVD edition when he actually considered FACE TO FACE as his favorite work (as per the director's talent bio included on the Blue Underground Region 1 disc of yet another Sollima Spaghetti Western - RUN, MAN, RUN [1968]); the trouble is that I loved THE BIG GUNDOWN so much that I followed it with a viewing of FACE TO FACE via the recording I owned made off Italian TV! I did order the DVD of that film now - especially since it's still discounted - but as I said with respect to a second look at THE PRICE OF POWER (although I may still check out Sollima's interview when the disc arrives)...

O.K., rant over: the film under review is quite an unusual Spaghetti Western and a very interesting, indeed ambitious one at that, being a transposition of the JFK assassination case to an Old West setting! Actually, it's reminiscent of Anthony Mann's terse black-and-white thriller THE TALL TARGET (1951) - which dealt with an assassination attempt on the life of then-U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. It features one of the most popular Italian stars from this subgenre, Giuliano Gemma, in what is perhaps his most impressive Western role (many of his other films tended to have a light-hearted bent). The supporting cast includes at least two other notables: Van Johnson (in one of his few and mainly unremarkable Italian films) as the American President killed in post-Civil War Dallas and Fernando Rey as the head of a conspiracy of Southerners - who not only plots his assassination but also conveniently maneuvers the new acting U.S. leader, Johnson's Vice-President, by means of blackmail!

Benito Stefanelli also makes a good impression as a corrupt sheriff who pursues Gemma all through the picture, and with whom he's engaged a couple of times in a 'duel in the dark' - with the guns resting on the floor rather than in their respective holsters and the only light in the room provided by the end of the cowboys' cigars! Also involved is Ray Saunders as Gemma's black sidekick whom the narrative eventually turns into the doomed "Lee Harvey Oswald" figure. Stelvio Massi - who later cut his teeth, as director, on a number of poliziotteschi - is behind the film's luminous cinematography; similarly, Luis Enrique Bacalov supplies yet another great "Euro-Cult" score - which is different enough from the style of Ennio Morricone as to be equally distinguishable. Valerii's direction here may mot be as imposing as that in other Spaghetti Westerns but he handles the proceedings efficiently enough (the final gunfight is especially nicely done); the film is certainly one of the more underrated entries in the subgenre and, for those so inclined, the novelty of the plot line alone should make it one to look out for...

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