Alive or Preferably Dead / Vivi o preferibilmente morti (Duccio Tessari, 1969)

I’ve written a review on this likeable/forgettable movie:

I’ve written a new summary (including some brief commentary notes) for the movie as well:

Nice work there Sherp! Poor movie, but nice work :wink:

It’s really not one of Gemma’s best

This is part of Mill Creek’s 20-pack Spaghetti Western set. It is a full-frame, non-pan&scan English dub with grainy but acceptable picture quality. The onscreen title is SUNDANCE CASSIDY AND BUTCH THE KID; the DVD packaging lists the title as SUNDANCE AND THE KID. Runtime is approx. 79 minutes.

It’s a very lightweight and easy-to-digest show. To call it a comedy would be technically accurate, since everything that happens in the story is played for a laugh. However, there is also quite a bit of very accomplished stunt and fighting activity thrown into the mix as well. If this came out today, it would be called an “action comedy”.

Giuliano Gemma, as Monty the city slicker, has more of a straight-man role to Nino Benvenuti’s Ted, a straight-up hillbilly. Antonio Casas is on hand as a hustler who keeps popping up to aid and abet (or does he have another motive?) the boys’ schemes. Pretty and likable Sydne Rome is the rich banker’s daughter who ends in our heroes’ camp after a botched kidnapping.

Things proceed toward a rousing conclusion aboard a moving train which is transporting a cache of the banker’s gold. (Or is it? – our boys are in the dark about a few things in the film, for sure).

This picture will not make anyone forget Hill and Spencer. But for what it is, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of enjoyment I got from it. A special nod to the great acrobatic and hand-to-hand combat setpieces featuring the two leads. Each man is spry and lively, and the film really comes alive during their fights in a bathhouse and on a muddy hill. Also, the train climax is funny and action-packed, with mayhem aplenty.

Runtimes are listed elsewhere at up to 103 minutes, meaning the version I saw has been trimmed coinsiderably. As noted, the print is acceptable but less than stellar, so completists might want to seek out a continental version for the full “Monty”, pun intended.

6/10 stars.

Just watched the SPO release of this which is an improvement on both the heavily cut Mill Creek DVD and uncut Greek vhs I have yet still full screen which is unusual for them. I’m wondering if it was open matte.
Anyhow, the film is a comedy so not one of my favourites but Gemma is always a pleasure for me, even in his later, comedy, buddy film type stuff so it could be worse. A couple of real highlights though are some stunts which Gemma pulls off here which are genuinely impressive and worthy of a better film. In one he is dragged behind a stage coach and hauls himself up in a kind of backward roll to land on the back of the stage. And in another he leaps off the top of a moving train, grabs a side rail and swings into an open box car. No camera tricks or stunt doubles here. It is clearly Gemma himself and both stunts are dangerous and beautifully executed. Lord knows how they got insurance for him in those days. You’d surely not see a star of today allowed to try this kind of stuff, even if he was capable. Which I suspect few would be.
In general though, the film is nowhere near his best.

Also noticed a very young looking Dan van Husen towards the end playing one of the men guarding the gold on the train. 1969 is quite early for Dan I think. Was this his first Spaghetti appearance?

I have the SPO release too and I’m also wondering why its only 4:3. Anyway, descent as far as SW comedies go. As a boxing fan its nice to see Benvenuti in there as well. Gemma and Nino were gods in Italy back in the day.

Think this is one of the better comedy westerns, I prefer it to Duccio Tessaris other comedy Don’t Turn the Other Cheek.

At the end on the train I actually thought they were referencing Emperor of the North… until I saw this was made 4 years before it.

i saw the trailer, a very good combination of comedy and action i never liked teccari films before
now maybe this will make something good for my tastes :slight_smile:

The german versions i’ve seen are all 4:3,too.
Anybody ever seen a Widescreen version of this ?

The film was shot for an 1,66:1 aspect ratio, so fullscreen is not that bad. And all the versions are most likely open matte.

I confirm the 4:3 versions are in a not much understandable open matte.

Most probably the correct AR is 1,85:1. Since I have a widescreen TV recording, when I have time I’ll check this.

It is a Panoramico film, and that means 1,66:1, which was in the 60s an often used widescreen aspect ratio in Europe.

Most DVDs ignore this for the sake of 16:9 TVs and present the film in the usual 1,85:1 aspect ratio. The difference between both formats is of course not that big.

Spanish (~1,60:1):

vs German

Telecolor version (from an old and deteriorated copy, no DVD master adapted to 16:9) has a 1,85:1 aspect ratio, see with your eyes :wink:

i can’t wait the wild east version ;D

I’ve just seen this from the DSX dvd (which is also very good quality and open matte) and I enjoyed it for what it is. Far from being Gemma’s best and from any top or bottom list. Just nice entretainment with plenty of good action scenes and some funny moments. Gemma’s stunts are great, as it was already mentioned.
If you don’t mind light hearted SW, I’d reccomend this one but only if you can get it easily and/or cheap. I got it only because it came along the two Ringo movies.

On the whole a very lightweight affair, and no one gets killed till the last section of the film. In the past this would have annoyed me, but could have done without the change of pace of really. Was well and truly settled into the films laidback and silly charms. Viewed the Wild East disc this time around.

JonathonCorbett, that telecolor version looks cropped top and bottom and doesn’t seem to show that much more picture sideways than fullscreen.

Yes, but that version is properly matted, not cropped. :wink: