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The Big Gundown

Mr. Ugly comes to town!
The Big Gundown
Unofficial lawman John Corbett hunts down Cuchillo Sanchez, a Mexican peasant accused of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl.

Reviews

John Chard
If you don't kill me right now, it'll be the last mistake you make. La resa dei conti (The Big Gundown) is directed by Sergio Sollima and written by Sollima and Sergio Donati. It stars Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Walter Barnes and Gerard Herter. Music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Carlo Calini. Superior Spaghetti Western with shades of Zapata for good measure, The Big Gundown finds Van Cleef as bounty hunter - cum - unofficial lawman Jonathan Corbett, whose reputation for bringing in the criminals, dead or alive, has caught the attention of business baron Brockston (Barnes). With an interest in getting into politics, Corbett is sold on Brockston’s offer of political help if he will do a job for him. The job is to hunt down a Mexican rogue by the name of Cuchillo (Milian) who is alleged to have raped and murdered a 12 year old girl. Tracking Cuchillo across the land, the Mexican proves to be a slippery customer, and more importantly, Corbett begins to doubt the veracity of the charges against him. Adios Amigo. What do you need for a great Italo Western? A leading man with screen presence supreme? Check! Rogue antagonist able to overact opposite the leading man whilst still exuding charm personified? Check! Scorching vistas? Check! A musical score so in tune with the story it’s a character all by itself? Check! And violence? Check! Sollima’s movie has it all. Much of the film is about the manhunt and how the two men involved develop a relationship. Cuchillo claims he’s being set up and seems to have friends in every town featured in the play. Corbett is a dandy with a gun, but he’s not perfect, he can be outsmarted and get caught cold. There’s good thought gone into the screenplay in this respect, not putting the anti-hero up as an infallible superman. Then there’s the side-bar narrative strands that show Sollima’s political bent, even though this is hardly a heavily politico piece. From class struggles and racism, to asides on the justice system and the fat cats who operate around the system, Sollima does enjoy dangling such carrots. With zippy set pieces fuelled by brooding machismo that is in turn enhanced by the top work from Carlini and Morricone (it's one of Moricone's best scores, real dynamite), this is grade “A” Spaghetti and well worth feasting on. 9/10

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