A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof / … e per tetto un cielo di stelle (Giulio Petroni, 1968)

(Half Soldier) #1

My thoughts on Petroni’s “And for a Roof a Sky Full of Stars”…

Ah, such beautiful music!

This film opens with a classic sequence. A stagecoach is attacked by a gang, with all the passengers brutally massacred. Cue Morricone’s haunting soundtrack as the camera focuses on the dead, and in particular the face of a blonde girl. A hand brushes the dust from her face,and the camera pans up to show the sorrowful face of Billy (Giuliano Gemma). A truly moving scene, but made particularly so because of Morricone’s music.

In a way, this opening sequence is quite out of place with the remainder of the movie. The rest is a light-hearted affair, based around the partnership of Billy and Larry (Mario Adorf). Billy is a smart, world-wise man, whilst Larry is not gifted with the greatest amount of intelligence. This is a perfect foil for Billy, who is a convincing conman and successful in getting the better out of his gullible partner throughout the film (including robbing him of his entire life savings).

The action really hots up when the character of Roger Pratt (Federico Boido) is introduced properly (until this stage, he is purely the face of the gang leader from the opening ambush). He is a brutal man, tracking down Billy on behalf of his father Samual Pratt (Anthony Dawson). The second half of the movie concentrates on this pursuit, with Samual also arriving on the scene and proving to be as barbaric as his short-fused offspring.

Director Giulio Petroni (of “Death Rides a Horse” fame) adopts a similar style to the one used in his later Milian cast “Life is Tough, Right Providence?”. It shares its episodic structure, and “clever man/thick man” partnership. Anyone that has read my other reviews will probably have noticed that I do not generally like the more light-hearted westerns. However, I did very much enjoy most of this particular film (the same could not be said of “Providence” incidentally).

Gemma does not look as comfortable with the more comedic role as he does to that of an angel-faced gunman. But he still looks and acts the part - as likable in this film as ever. Adorf meanwhile is suitably oafish (in a role that would have been perfect for Bud Spencer), as Boido and Dawson are villainous.

A particular highlight of the film is a superb scene as Billy cons his way into the house of a beautiful Widow (played by the frankly gorgeous Magda Konopka). Another very beautiful Spaghetti Western actress, part sorrowful and part sexually teasing.

As my review closes, I must dwell further on that opening sequence. The background to this massacre is never fully explained - perhaps those killed have been unfortunate acquaintances of Billy, and suitably punished by the Pratt gang. I don’t know. And, in its serious nature, it perhaps feels like a scene that doesn’t really belong in this film. But… if you watch it for no other reason, then watch it for this powerful prologue (even close your eyes just to hear Morricone’s score). I am also quite confident as you sit through the whole film that you will find other scenes that you will enjoy.

(Sebastian) #2

Database link:

(Benito Alvarez) #3

I actually thought this film was a horrible episodic mess and a completely waste of talent (and Gemma can do comedy well - see BEN & CHARLIE or ALIVE OR PREFERABLY DEAD). The only good thing for me (score aside, and even then some of the tracks I was looking forward to hearing in context were played very mutedly), was that Rick Boyd almost survived to the end…

(Half Soldier) #4

Cheers Benito. I’ve not seen Ben & Charlie or Alive or Preferably Dead yet.

As for Skyfull, I can understand why some people wouldn’t like it. But I really enjoyed it.

(Benito Alvarez) #5

The Wild East BEN AND CHARLIE is excellent - recommended for your future shopping list!

(Mats) #6

I agree with Half Soldier´s excellent review. The opening scene is really amazing and doesn´t fit in the the rest of the movie and that´s the biggest problem with A SKY.

I used to own the greek VHS (before I got the SPO-disc) and the WHOLE pre-credits sequence was missing in that version. It started with Gemma and Adorf meeting in the saloon and you never got a clue why they seemed to know each other from earlier.

(Kitosch) #7

…albeit not complete. The German disc runs longer.

(Benito Alvarez) #8

Really? By how much? I obviously didn’t notice the missing bits when I got the WE version.

(Sebastian) #9

yeah the german one is longer, EMS seems to have gotten hold of a pristine complete print. but it’s german audio only, no subtitles

(Kitosch) #10

See here and scroll down to the bottom of the page: http://www.sundances.net/spaghetti/bencharlie.php

(Half Soldier) #11

Cheers for the info. Ben and Charlie should be near to the top of my shopping list, I have heard nothing but positive comments!

(Half Soldier) #12

[quote=“Mats, post:6, topic:124”]I agree with Half Soldier´s excellent review. The opening scene is really amazing and doesn´t fit in the the rest of the movie and that´s the biggest problem with A SKY.

I used to own the greek VHS (before I got the SPO-disc) and the WHOLE pre-credits sequence was missing in that version. It started with Gemma and Adorf meeting in the saloon and you never got a clue why they seemed to know each other from earlier.[/quote]

Meant to say also… “thats a weird beginning! oh the ruthlessness of the editors! I don’t know why anyone in their right mind would miss off that beginning”.

(Benito Alvarez) #13

Thanks mucho Kitosch (and Sundance!).

Having had only the one alcohol fuelled viewing of the German version I’m glad it wasn’t some 15 minute clip I’d slept through ;D

(Bill san Antonio) #14

I tend to like these light hearted buddy comedy westerns when there’s a good balance between comedy and action and I think it works well with this film. Gemma is especially good in making a little more comedic roles I think. Like Half-Soldier said in his review the scene where Gemma is flirting with the widow is one of the greatest scenes in the film.

Biggest problem with the film is some scenes which are way too violent for such film. The scene where main villain is torturing a girl with piece of wood full of nails is very nasty and uncomfortable. It just too out of place in otherwise funny and light hearted film.

The best thing in the film anyway is the Morricone’s beautiful music which i think is one of his best.

(YourPallbearer) #15

It certainly is. For the first 40 minutes. Then it clears the fat away and we’re left with a damn fine (and brutally violent!) final half hour.

(CactusCharlie) #16

This unusal title intrigued me until i saw the movie, it’s lacklustre to say the least.

I’m a not all that keen on Gemma.

2 Stars just for the title.

(Lasky) #17

I gave it 4 stars. :wink:

I haven’t a problem with the blending of comedy with brutal violence and its these sort of bizarre quirks that first attracted me to sw’s and Italian cinema in general.This sort of role suits the excellent Gemma to a tee though the gormless Mario Adoft character ain’t the most flattering. :smiley:

Other than the wonderful opening of course,the earlier lightweight portion of the movie is entertaining enough but as suggested earlier the brutal last half an hour or so is nearly as good as its gets,certainly for Petroni. :slight_smile:

(chuck connors brother) #18


Really nice movie, they chose well with Mario Adorf never seen him a goofy role like this, he was really sympathetic as well. The part where Rick Boyd cuts the womens arm with a knife was unexpected, it’s a sign of things to come later on.

(korano) #19

Have not seen this one yet. I have heard samples of the music and it sounded very good. Is the movie as good as the music?

(Silver) #20

Basically…no. The film itself is a bit of a shambles. It can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be a kind of “buddy” comedy or a meaner film. I was a little disappointed the first time i saw it, though there were a few good bits. It’s grown on me more with repeated viewings…but basically the scenes with the viilains are the best, and these guys really are nasty, which is why the film suffers from being a bit uneven…some of the violence jars with the comedy. I’d give it a go if i were you, just don’t expect too much. :wink: