Retrospective: The Colizzi Trilogy

There’s not much I know about director Giuseppe Colizzi, and I am not sure if there is much to know in general, actually. The main reason for this is that he passed away in 1978, and aside from the three spaghetti westerns I am focusing on, he made only three other films (the last one came out after his death). His biggest accomplishment seems to be that it’s to his credit that Bud Spencer and Terence Hill’s joint careers took off like rocket ships thanks to his direction. They had both established themselves on the big screen already, but not as a duo, that’s what his spaghetti western trilogy did successfully, thanks to the chemistry between the two, the stellar writing and dialogue of all three of his movies (to varying degrees) and I am assuming a few tricks in the marketing to make the most of the new duo, with some success stemming from overseas sales, especially to Germany, where endless censorship and comedy re-dubs had propelled the duo to slapstick superstardom. I sat down to rewatch the trilogy and hope to inspire more of you to do the same.

God Forgives, I don’t (1967)

This is criminally overlooked, one reason may be its scant availability in a lot of markets. It’s Spencer and Hill’s first joint outing and it’s a fantastic western, grim, violent, well-written and beautifully shot. The chemistry between the two is great, with Hill definitely being the lead character however. Frank Wolff shines as a bad guy. A really highly recommended film and great kick-off for his trilogy. I love Rustichelli’s music here, as well as some of the atmospheric camerawork resulting in a lot of shots that would’ve ended up on the cutting room floor had they not been so pretty.

The German BluRay is not English friendly, and it doesn’t even have German subtitles all the way through. But at least the transfer is quite solid (not the best encoding and the day for night scenes are a bit hard to see, but overall it seems to be a very decent restoration) and three versions of the movie are included. I have to say though, of the 14 minutes or so of footage restored back into the film from the Italian print, not much I’d classify as essential, either, so no wonder it had been cut to trim the film. Half of it would not be missed, but some of it is essential among other things to flesh out Bill and his gang.

Ace High (1968)

This is already a completely different animal, even though it was just one year later. The spaghetti western had already - and rather quickly - morphed into some kind of arms race in production value, authenticity, running times and “epicness”. Whereas his first was a very classic and gritty picture, this one smacks of Leone-isms (all the red haired kids from OUATITW already appear here), from the costumes to the photography scene, here’s ample budget that’s showing, and a director knowing what to do with it and yet also wasting valuable screen time on ostensibly useless stuff, which makes the movie a bit more of a drag compared to the rigid suspense picture that is the first entry in the trilogy. Hill and Spencer of course in best shape and chemistry, here with high-quality dubbing voices (Spencer less so than Hill, I think) to match the budget. The addition of Eli Wallach and Brock Peters (him just a minor cameo basically despite the top billing) makes for one hell of a gang. The thing is, the movie rather incoherent, hard to follow, all over the place. It is quite the epic undertaking, but Colizzi seems to have been in over his head, unable to tie it all together into one neat package.

This one got distributed by Paramount internationally, and that’s also the only BluRay so far - a Kino release out of a Paramount licensing package. It looks absolutely stunning, even though - this being Paramount after all - too much filtering and edge enhancement are visible. This being from a 4K scan, there’s still ample film grain, tons of details, rich colors, and all that, so there are really no complaints in the visual department really. The sound is a different matter, it often sounds way too muffled. And lastly, while there is an audio commentary on there and a few trailers to make it worth your money, what would have really stood out is the uncut version of the film. Instead, this coming plainly out of the Paramount vaults, all we get here is the 122:35 minutes (exact player time) international version of the film, which, depending on what sources you consult, misses between 10 and 20 minutes of footage compared to what Italians saw on the screen in 1968.

Boot Hill (1969)

I never liked this much, but I appreciate it a bit more now. Cat goes undercover with a gang of circus artists while on the run from some goons. This endangers the circus, but gets one of them on his side, until he tracks down Hutch, who swore off on the gunslingin’ life and teamed up with a mute. Cat convinces them to help him out put an end to the evil mastermind who’s after him and other poor fellas. Or something like that, is the story. This gives Colizzi plenty of circus stuff to play with. Aside from that, there are plenty of tricks, cool visuals, high quality lighting, action sequences and more. Lionel Stander and Woody Strode add some star power. It is a high budget indulgence, that works so-so, with the usual sets, costumes, music cues and semi-funny interludes that were an all too subtle hint at the comedy slapstick to come. It gets interesting for a while when it seems like they’d be using an elaborate circus number to pull a heist on the bad guys but they’re really just messing with them and then gunning them down. This is emblematic for the whole movie which puts on a lot of show for very little substance, including the abysmally little screen time Hill and Spencer get, and can’t decide whether it wants to be serious or leaning into the circus number, an imbalance heavily reflected in the soundtrack as well.

The BluRay is quite something, with about five different German versions and a soundtrack CD included. It is sort of English friendly with the uncut long version being included in English, and the other versions aren’t relevant to non-English audiences anyway. The transfer here is based on a fairly recent restoration made in France, the transfer is quite excellent.

Time for some international company to put these films out, how about a UK based release by Arrow Video for example? Kino? Come on!


This was my revisiting of Colizzi’s three extraordinary, excellent, often overlooked and watch-worthy spaghetti westerns, which are at the same time indulgent, imbalanced and messy. They are not the same, we can see some development of the film-making, story telling and the characters, and these are three distinct films in their own right, but altogether they form not just Colizzi’s trilogy but also the Cat and Hutch universe. As second tier spaghetti westerns go, these should rank among the best, the craftsmanship is stellar, the cast is great and the screenwriting can be…well forgiven, if you pardon the pun.