Pray to God and Dig Your Grave / Prega Dio … e scavati la fossa! (Edoardo Mulargia, 1968)


(alk0) #1

http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Prega_Dio…_e_scavati_la_fossa

Thanks to Silver i was finally able to watch this one. The first thing that surprised me was the fact that this movie is supposed to be a Zapata western but it’s set in 1889, so technically it isn’t one. The second surprising thing is the fact that i enjoyed it much more that i thought i would. It’s very fun and fast-paced. It was produced by Fidani, but it’s much better than any of his efforts. It was clearly filmed in Italy, but the fact that it’s filmed in that ‘big’ way that cinematographers usually film Almeria makes it work for me. The score by Marcello Gigante is a very good one. Its worth noting that Robert Woods role is nothing more than a cameo.
SPOILERS AHEAD
I liked the fact that hero doesn’t get his revenge at the end. There’s also an interesting scene earlier on: a peone gets buried up to his neck in the sand and his head gets smashed by galloping horses’ hooves. Now - in every spaghetti i’ve seen earlier if someone ended up in situation like that he was rescued. Not in this one. We even get to see the actual moment of this grizzly death.
8/10


(Stanton) #2

This is one of the few on my actual search list. It wasn’t released in Germany.


(scherpschutter) #3

Never seen it, sounds like a winner


(Silver Wolf) #4

I have to disagree with alk0, this one isn’t even average. It’s like Fidani film, just with slightly more coherent script. Ultra-cheap shooting locations look exceptionally unconvincing since the film is supposed to take place in Mexico and transitional scenes go on forever as usual. 4/10.


(Stanton) #5

First things first.
To avoid confusion for further viewers it must be said that in my english 86 min version (83 min Pal), sourced from a scandinavian (swedish?) VHS, the parts from minute 35 to min 53 should be watched after min 70. This must be wrong unless this is also that way in the original version, in which case the film marks even more clearly the stamp of producer Demofilo Fidani. At least I doubt that what happened between min 53 and min 70 was intended to be a flashback.
But the film makes a cut impression anyway, and maybe Fidani (or whoever) tried to make the film more commercial by recutting it, and ignoring thereby the film’s structure.

Christian Kessler has written in his SW book that Pray to God and Dig Your Grave could have been Mulargias best western but is instead his worst.
That’s not true, because the film is much better than the routine bore Brother Outlaw, because here are good looking scenes and angles along the way, but this time without giving in to an interesting whole.

Mulargia shows somehow that he was capable to make more than simple shoot’ em alls, that he had the potential to make another SW like his masterwork El puro, but here his directing is as unfocused as the whole film by mixing in an unmotivated way scenes of political talk, with typical SW action, with intended (but unfinished) character development.

Indeed this is a rather confused film with a script, which starts to tell several different stories, but fails to bring them together. Some story lines are not even finished, some others are muddled together in a strange way, and what in the beginning seems to be the main story, a political story about a social motivated uprising, ends in a way which Kessler made so angry while watching it, that he nearly had destroyed his TV.
The end of the film makes the beginning a joke.
The landowner who has misused his privileges in the beginning, who towards the end has started hanging innocent peones for the kidnapping of his daughter, this landowner pardons Fernando (Robert Woods), who was just prior to the kidnapping trying to organize a revolution. All of Don Enrique’s crimes are now forgotten by the film’s happy end, which brings the daughter back to the arms of her lover. The cinematic convention of the happy end now justifies the death of the innocent. Fernando seems to accept the pardon (why?) in a resignative way, but that’s not enough after all what had happened before, that’s not breaking cinemtic rules, that’s only chaos out of inability.

Instead of following the early premises the film tells in the second half about a disappointed friendship between the returned Fernando and his former friend Cipriano (Jeff Cameron).
Fernando had left for Texas because of his resignation about his passive compatriots, Cipriano had turned into an ordinary bandido. The conflict between them turns the film into a more typical SW, and turns, by constructing this false happy end, the intended message about the overcoming of resignation into a film which ends in resignation, but a resignation which isn’t justified by what was shown before, which is arbitrary, which makes the hastily end look like a bad joke.

And there is a friend of Fernando, who joins him for his political motivated revenge, who starts to develop his own ideas, who starts to become a real revolutionary, who starts to deviate from his sidekick role, only that his character is also dropped towards the end, so that his inner development remained unfinished, so that the possibilities of his development for the ongoing story remained unused.

It’s maybe somehow fitting for this film that an uncomfortable looking Robert Woods gives his weakest SW performance, whereas of all people Jeff Cameron in his best role steals the show by showing an unexpected charisma.


(alk0) #6

Ok, maybe 8/10 was a bit too generous, but i was in a good mood that day :wink: It’s more like 7/10 when i think of it, i still think it’s a good one


(Stanton) #7

I’ve just realized that the wrong order of scenes begins earlier at minute 35. Obviously the first encounter between Fernando and Cipriano is not their first scene in this version.
I’ve changed it above and I have to think about if this changes the film for me.

At least the confusion is now only the way how Pray to God ends.


(Bill san Antonio) #8

Average film and very confusing. Makes one wonder if the ending is just the result of bad script and editing or if it’s meant to be so bleak. Robert Woods character actually makes things only worse when arriving back home to get his revenge and trying to help peones.

There’s potential in the film’s theme’s: mixture of revolution and revenge western with friendship theme might have worked pretty well but now it’s a kinda big mess.

Anyway, I liked it quite a bit. 3/5 stars.

btw, is it Fidani who’s playing the role of the grooms father?


(Stanton) #9

Yeah, that’s old Fid with Simone Blondell lurking in the background.

Bill, did you watch the same “wrong order” version I have described above?


(Bill san Antonio) #10

[quote=“Stanton, post:9, topic:1540”]Bill, did you watch the same “wrong order” version I have described above?[/quote]I think it was. It’s funny as Cameron is having a flashback where his friend gets shot by soldiers but that actually happens some 20 minutes later or so.


(Stanton) #11

Well, you should first have read my post above. Watch the film in this order and the film isn’t confusing anymore:

“To avoid confusion for further viewers it must be said that in my english 86 min version (83 min Pal), sourced from a scandinavian (swedish?) VHS, the parts from minute 35 to min 53 should be watched after min 70. This must be wrong unless this is also that way in the original version, in which case the film marks even more clearly the stamp of producer Demofilo Fidani. At least I doubt that what happened between min 53 and min 70 was intended to be a flashback.”

Only the end is still puzzling.

At least we had the same thoughts about the film after a 1st watch.


(alk0) #12

That was not Woods. He played henchman if i remeber correctly


(Bill san Antonio) #13

[quote=“alk0, post:12, topic:1540”]That was not Woods. He played henchman if i remeber correctly[/quote]What? Who was the main actor then? He looked like spitting image of Woods to me.


(Stanton) #14

No no, Woods is the lead.


(alk0) #15

My memory must be playing tricks on me i guess


(LankyFellow) #16

Watched this one yesterday,its not bad.
But what a final was that -
The baddie said to the hero you can go home and he obediently ride back.
Unusual for a SW


(tomobea) #17

Anyone having a widescreen version of this film???
in Italian or Spanish Audio, my English version is Fullscreen.


(LankyFellow) #18

I’ve only the same with danish subtitles and weak audio quality


(Bad Lieutenant) #19

Some months ago Robert Woods declared on Facebook that it was actually Demofilo Fidani who directed Prega Dio… e scavati la fossa, not Edoardo Mulargia.


(Stanton) #20

Does not look like directed by Fidani.