Review of “Any Gun Can Play” / “Vado … l’ammazzo e torno” (Enzo G. Castellari, 1967)


(scherpschutter) #1

Dir: Enzo G. Castellari Cast: George Hilton, Edd Byrnes, Gilbert Roland, Carla O’Hara (Stefania Careddu), Gerard Herter, Pedro Sanchez (Ignazio Spalla) Music: Francesco De Masi

Three men, looking like Clint Eastwood, Lee van Cleef and … Franco Nero (I guess it’s supposed to be him, some say Gian Maria Volonté) ride into town, but they’re not the main characters of this movie. They’re evil gunmen - they’re so evil people quickly close their doors and windows - and someone is waiting for them, a bounty hunter dressed in black. The gunmen meet a gravedigger who’s riding three coffins out of town and find out they are destined for them. The next moment they are shot by the bounty hunter …

Vado, l’ammazzo e … torno (I go, I kill and … I return - a reference to Caesar’s Vini, Vidi, Vici) freely borrows from more illustrious genre examples, but it’s all done with a wink of the eye and without any possible disrespect. In fact, the wonderful opening scene is one of the best in-jokes the genre has to offer, and the rest of the film has problems to live up with it. The bounty hunter (Hilton) accidently witnesses a train robbery, executed by the Mexican bandit he is trailing (Roland). The Mexicans fall out among themselves and Hilton starts to have second thoughts about killing Roland. There’s more money involved and maybe it would be wiser to team up with the guy. After Roland has killed the man who betrayed him, he is arrested and sentenced to death. Hilton saves him at the last moment, but there’s also a treacherous bank employee (Byrnes) who is now in possession of a part of the medaillion that reveals where the gold is located.

With three men vying for a hidden treasure, double-crossing each other almost constantly, the film rips off the famous premise of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Still, with it’s mix of tongue-in-cheek humour, violent action and slapstick approach to the fisticuffs, the film unmistakably bears director Castellari’s imprint. Enzo G(irolami) Castellari, one of the most prolific directors of the genre, is probably best known for the twilight spaghetti Keoma and the Shakespeare adaption Johnny Hamlet (Quella Sporca Storia nel West), but he also added some light-hearted impulses to the genre. Like Alberto de Martino’s Django shoots first (1966) this is an early example of a spaghetti western that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Still, in spite of the spoofy opening and some tongue-in-cheek humour, the first half of the movie is still pretty violent, with a excellently executed assault on the train and some cynical behaviour of the bandits. It’s only halfway that the movie takes its comical turn with a hilarious fistfight between Byrnes and Hilton (in his underwear!). The script takes enough turns to keep our attention, but Castellari has a tendency to over-elaborate the action scenes. A good example is a chase scene on a market place that begins well with some heavy punches launched, but ends up with Byrnes using trampolines to escape from his persecutors. Occasionally sliding off into silliness, the film nevertheless remains enjoyable, due to some great visual moments - the opening scene, Hilton’s near surrealistic appearence against a red background, the avalanche of dollars and the build-up to it - and some good performances. I have never been a great Hilton fan, but the part-of the ever-smiling, nearly immoral adventurer/bounty hunter fits him like a glove; Roland seems an odd choice to play the sophisticated Mexican bandit, but turns in a fine, laconic performance and television actor Byrnes was a pleasant surprise to me as the deliciously wicked white collar criminal with a fifties forelock (the Fonz out West!). I don’t really know what to think of De Masi’s score; it’s not bad and even fits the movie quite well, but it’s also very odd and some parts reminded me of French comedies from the sixties, with Louis de Funès as the gendarme of St. Tropez.

Reviewed DVD: the film is part of a 3DVD/9MOVIES box of St. Clair Vision. You can’t expect too much from these boxes but this film is presented in more or less the original aspect ratio and the image is not bad at all. Moreover it runs 1:37:22, so unlike the official US release it seems to be uncut. Sound is said to be 5.1 virtual surround - whatever that may be - but I didn’t detect much surround activity: it’s a bit crackly and suffers from hiss, but dialogue is always understandable (but not free from lip-sync problems). With quite a few lines spoken in Spanish, some people might deplore the lack of subtitles.


(Phil H) #2

Nice review Scherps.
I like this movie. A kind of a caper film set in the west which I think works quite well and although it has it’s lighthearted tone it is not too silly. I have the same St Clair version you have viewed and I was frankly amazed at the quality for such a cheap edition.


(Stanton) #3

Yeah Scherp, another good one.

My views of the film are similar to your’s.
Only the staging of the train assault wasn’t that well made, as far as I remember it. But compared to most of the other stagecoach/train robberies in SWs, it was an ok one.

The film was a great success, and provided Hilton with the model for many of his later Spags.

Fittingly the germans later redubbed Vado… into a Hallelujah western, whereas in the original german release they had voted for another Django, while in the original version he was another nameless one.

But as a Django the funny idea of the opening scene, to introduce a new hero by him killing the most famous of the former SW heroes, is somewhat destroyed.


(scherpschutter) #4

I quickly rewatched the train assault

I still think it’s well-made: it has cute camera angles (especially from Roland’s pit - you suddenly notice his girlfriend Guapa) and above all it’s sharply edited.

Great remark about the film providing Hilton with a model for later spaghetti westerns
With your permission I’ll add it to the review.


(Søren) #5

The official release from VCI runs 1:37:17 !? The extra 5 seconds are probably due to some St. Clair-intro or something. Or is it a different US release you refer to? I belive that the print used for these cheap boxes for their Any Gun Can Play-print was just “borrowed” from VCI, like a couple of the other prints used.


(Silvanito) #6


(Stanton) #7

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:4, topic:1000”]I quickly rewatched the train assault

I still think it’s well-made: it has cute camera angles (especially from Roland’s pit - you suddenly notice his girlfriend Guapa) and above all it’s sharply edited.

Great remark about the film providing Hilton with a model for later spaghetti westerns
With your permission I’ll add it to the review.[/quote]
Of course, you don’t have to ask.

Maybe I’ll watch the train sequence also again, hmmm… or maybe the complete film.


(scherpschutter) #8

No I was referring to the VCI disc
I read it ran 130 mns (approx), apparently you can’t trust those commercial sites !

But it’s my mistake, I should’ve checked it


(Søren) #9

You can’t trust anything. Even the cover of the VCI-release states that it is 105 min.


(scherpschutter) #10

You can’t even trust my posts!

I meant to say I read it ran 90 mns approx, so 1:30 (!)


(Stanton) #11

I have just seen that the idea to Vado… was by Romolo Guerrieri, who’s real name is also Girolami.

One of the screenplay writers was Tito Carpi, the most prolific of all. The above mentioned Django Shoots first was co-written by him, and he also collaborated on most of Carnimeo’s SWs . They made together with Hilton The Moment to Kill in the same year.

And both, Vado … and The Moment to Kill, are early examples/forerunners of the Sartana/Sabata/Halleluja type of SWs, which emerged one year later.


(Chris_Casey) #12

That is correct. He is Enzo’s uncle.


(Søren) #13

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:10, topic:1000”]You can’t even trust my posts!

I meant to say I read it ran 90 mns approx, so 1:30 (!)[/quote]
I know you calculate with metric hours so no, you didn’t make a mistake :slight_smile:

Nice review by the way. Any Gun Can Play was one of the first spaghetti westerns I bought on dvd but it took a while before I had the nerve to watch it. The VCI-cover was simply a big turn-off for me. I know you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cover but this one sporting an almost black and white photograph of Gilbert Roland (who I didn’t know at the time) on the cover made me think this was one of those American spaghetti westerns that I still can’t stand. Imagine my surprise when I was presented with an action-filled really fun spaghetti western with all the right ingredients. Very nice. This must also have been the first time I was confronted with George Hilton (may have seen Massacre Time first, can’t remember) and I still to this day several confrontations later consider this one of his finest entries in the genre.

It’s a comedy western sort of, sure. But not slapstick and certainly very well presented. And since it is available for almost no money it should of course be on every spaghetti western fans movie shelf.


(Bluntwolf) #14

[quote=“stanton, post:11, topic:1000”]They made together with Hilton The Moment to Kill in the same year.

And both, Vado … and The Moment to Kill, are early examples/forerunners of the Sartana/Sabata/Halleluja type of SWs, which emerged one year later.[/quote]

Actually, I like both movies (great soundtracks btw) but I like ‘The moment to kill’ better mainly due to the cast (Horst Frank, Walter Barnes, Loni von Friedl) and maybe 'cause it was one of my very early SW-viewings !!! Hilton is great in both !!!

P.s.: Nice review scherp. !!!


(Chris_Casey) #15

I actually like MOMENT TO KILL the best, as well, Bluntwolf!
It just has a much harder edge to it than ANY GUN CAN PLAY.
I like ANY GUN CAN PLAY just fine; but, the overall movie just doesn’t live up to the opening sequence (just like our amigo, scherpschutter, has said in his great review).


(Stanton) #16

It seems that many think so. Not the most clever idea to start a film with the best sequence. Ha ha

But the difference between both is obviously that Vado… is more tongue in cheek, whereas Moment… is a sinister film. Carnimeo’s only sinister SW by the way. Beginning with the Sartana movies he opted more and more towards comedies with Hilton following him.


(I...I...Idiot) #17

A decent sw. For me, it had the feel of being shot earlier than 67 for some reason. Good watch though.


(p.pereira) #18

Yes. Lots of action. Forgettable but very enjoyable!


(ION BRITTON) #19

Although a bit inferior to Kill Them All And Come Back Alone, I really liked it.


(Spaghetti Monkey) #20

A very good example of a light-hearted SW, without quite being a comedy. More entertaining than most of the comedy SW’s for me. Fun Factor - 6.5/10