DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
HILLS RUN RED, THE (Fiume di dollari, Un) (director: Carlo Lizzani; screenwriter: Piero Regnoli; cinematographer: Antonio Secchi; editor: Ornella Micheli; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Thomas Hunter (Jerry Brewster), Henry Silva (Mendez), Dan Duryea (Vinny Getz), Nando Gazzolo (Ken Seagull), Nicoletta Machiavelli (Mary Ann), Geoffrey Copleston (Horner), Loris Loddi (Tim); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Luigi Carpentieri/Ermanno Donati; United Artists; 1966-Italy-dubbed in English)

 
"This spaghetti western just has too much red sauce on its plate to be appetizing."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Critic-turned-filmmaker Carlo Lizzani ("The Wicked"/"Luchino Visconti"/"Another World Is Possible"), as Lee W. Beaver, helms this ludicrous misanthropic spaghetti western that's set against the Civil War backdrop. It's a revenge tale, whereby violence is its main calling card (violence for violence's sake) as it tries to live up to its title with its bloodbath story. 

Confederate veterans and best friends Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter) and Ken Seagall (Nando Gazzolo) are heading home in a wagon with a stolen army payroll at the war's end and are pursued by Yankee soldiers. To throw the soldiers off the trail they draw cards and the winner Ken takes the money one way and Jerry rides the wagon with the soldiers in pursuit. Jerry's captured and spends five years in Fort Wilson in Texas, and when released returns home to his wife and son. Ken, in the meantime, has become a rich man and a corrupt Austin cattle baron with designs on controlling by force the entire territory. He refused to help Jerry's wife pay her debts and she died as a result of his callousness. He also snatched the Brewster's young son Tim and raised him on the ranch.

Warning: spoiler in the next paragraph.

When Ken learns of Brewster's release, he sends two gunmen to ambush him. But Brewster prevails and is befriended by a mysterious stranger, Vinny Getz (Dan Duryea), who reports to Ken's ranch that Brewster is dead because he killed him and gets hired to work as one of Ken's thugs. The boss man of the thugs is the psychopathic Mendez (Henry Silva), a grinning lunatic bent on sadism. Soon Brewster maneuvers to get hired by Mendez, and it leads to the predictable climactic shootout between Brewster and Getz against around a hundred of Ken's thugs. No problem there for the two boys. After knocking off all the baddies, Brewster reunites with his lost son. The surprise at the end is that Getz is a government agent, who vouches that Brewster redeemed himself by going after Ken and rewards him with an appointment as the sheriff of Austin.

Duryea sleepwalks through this dismal role, but it's still good to see the old timer at his craft. The pic is also saddled with an awful dubbing, which makes the chatter not only artificial but hard to decipher. But the main problem was that this spaghetti western just has too much red sauce on its plate to be appetizing, unless you're addicted to such junk films and the violence is what rocks your boat.

REVIEWED ON 1/22/2008        GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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