A Town Called Hell / A Town Called Bastard (Robert Parrish, 1971)

(R-T-C Tim) #71

Just a warning, there is a cheap UK release under the Town Called Hell title by a company called Excalibur. Avoid this, it is a bootleg with a ‘make your own DVD’ “menu” screen and a great big watermark just off the centre of the print. Unwatchable. Fortunately Amazon UK agreed and refunded me the money.

(Jonny Powers) #72

Kino just announced on their FB they will be releasing this in August on Blu and DVD

(ENNIOO) #73

Good to hear, like this one.

(morgan) #74

This film has been lacking a review, so I have taken the liberty to write one. And, believe it or not, it seems I have managed to publish it:


Some questions for the Forum members: It seems most films registered in the SWDB are registered under their original title. This film is registered as A Town Called Hell, while I think it was originally released as A Town Called Bastard. On the DB page the running time is given as 94 minutes, but actually it runs for 97 minutes, while the PAL release is 93 minutes. Should it be changed in the DB? According to the SWDB (and a lot of others) Cris Huerta is in the film. But I didn’t spot him. Did you?

(ENNIOO) #75

No did not see Cris Huerta .

(carlos) #76

It seems you like this film quite a biit, A very nice and informative review. Regarding the runtime, the Spanish database Mundocine lists 97 min, the BBFC has 2 entries with A Town Called Bastard: 97 min, A Town Called Hell: 95 min.

(scherpschutter) #77

The films are listed under their original title, which seems the most logical thing to do in the light of the chaos that has been created over the years. How many titles they make up, in whatever languange, Per un pugno di dollari will always remain the original title. But in the case of a co-production there’s of course a problem. A Town called Bastard was shot in Spain and co-produced by Spanish company Zurbano Films, located in Madrid. It was a co-production with UK based company Benmar, not a well-known company with only 5 titles on their conto (IMDb). The cast is very international, not predominantly Spanish, therefore imo both the Spanish and the English title can be called ‘original’.

(morgan) #78

Yes, I like it a lot. It may not be everybody’s SW though. No individual gunfights in this one. The gunfighter, who has put his guns away, only to take them out for one last fight, is of course a familiar western theme. Not so in this one. Only once (except for the flashbacks) the protagonist cocks his rifle, only to uncock it without having fired.

So it seems it was released in UK 1971 as A Town Called Bastard and in Spain 1972 as Una ciudad llamada Bastarda. By the way, Giusti has the original title as A town Called Bastard. The correct running time should be 97 minutes. And if Ennioo has not spotted Huerta in the film, nobody will. I’ll correct it on Sunday if nobody intervenes in the meantime.

(carlos) #79

Sounds good. Regarding Shaw’s character, I believe he was called Montes in the flashbacks, I seem to remember that being engraved on his saddle or maybe his saddlebags.

(morgan) #80

Shaw’s character is called Irlandés (by Benito) in the opening flashback where he kills a priest and later. So we know he is an Irishman. Who is he really? Who was Alvira’s husband? Who killed him? And who is Águila? Those are the enigmas of the film. Yes, the saddle bag has something with them to do …

(Extranjero) #81

I would recommend the novelisation of this film, by William Terry (pen name of Terry Harknett, who went on to write the legendary Edge series of pulp westerns). As well as fully explaining the plot, it is more violent, grotesque and sadistic then any film version I’ve subsequently heard about. There are also some striking images and memorable dialogue not found in the original screenplay.

I’ve only seen a UK VHS release of the film, many years ago, which was a let down after the book, but I keep meaning to catch up with it again on DVD.

A question, particularly for German members. When I did German at university, we studied Durrenmatt’s play Die Besuch der Alten Dame (The Visit) where a woman arrives with a coffin and corrupts the townspeople by offering them a reward to kill someone from her past. I immediately thought: That’s where they got the idea from! What do you reckon?

(morgan) #82

Thanks for the recommendation, didn’t know about the novel. So it was written after the screenplay?

(Extranjero) #83

Yes, the novel (published as A Town Called Bastard) is “based on the original screenplay by Richard Aubrery.”

(morgan) #84

On its way. Currently unavailable on amazon.co.uk.Still one left in stock on amazon.com.

(Martin) #85

The parallels to Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Der Besuch der alten Dame (The Visit) are striking indeed; definitely an influence or inspiration for screenplay writer Richard Aubrey. Probably an unlikely connection, but in 1964 actor Robert Shaw had played the role of Johann Wilhelm Möbius in the Broadway theater performance of Dürrenmatt’s Die Physiker (The Physicists).

For some reason, Christopher Frayling doesn’t mention A Town Called Bastard in his recent essay on “Irishness.” A strange omission, for the conflicts depicted in Parrish’s film are obviously informed rather by the contemporaneous escalation of political violence in Northern Ireland than by events in Mexico between 1890 and 1905, when the country was under the rule of Porfirio Díaz.

In his detailed discussion of A Town Called Bastard, Lee Broughton emphasizes the film’s Gothic elements and the presence of a strong female character, revenge-seeking Alvira Montes, as distinctively British.

@morgan: Good review! Were you able to find out who played “Águila”?

(morgan) #86

Thanks, companero. No. I have been thinking about Fernando Sánches Polack. But to speak the truth I know nothing about Spanish actors. Here some screenshots of him. Surely, someone who do will recognize him.

(carlos) #87

You may be on to something there. That’s a pretty distinctive profile. Here in The Bounty Killer, Pancho Villa and Captain Apache.

The last two being UK productions, like Town, shot in Spain. At about what point does he appear in A Town Called Hell?

(morgan) #88

In the flashback, 73 - 80 minutes.

(Martin) #89

And long before the flashback sequence in a black-and-white photograph with his wife Alvira (English version: 27 min 30 s, Spanish version: 27 min 18 s), posted by morgan above.

(ENNIOO) #90

Film full of no hope and dispair. Full of sweat aswell ! You just get involved in one character and they go, but then you just get involved in another on the same level. What a great cast !, and this of course enhances this theme. Its such a negative film, and gets better with each viewing. Top notch stuff for this viewer !