The Hellbenders / I crudeli (Sergio Corbucci, 1967)


(Goodfella) #41

Some examples of expelling disbelief? Well how about the characters constant stupidity in their decision making?

For examplr wondering off out of site to get undressed and take a bath, ten feet away from a dude you know wants to rape you.

Or raping and killing an indian girl when you travel into their camp to by some horses?

Plus the structure of the script was simply horrible. The whole film was pretty much this… bunch of dudes dressed in very cheap replica confederate uniforms ride around while wanted by Union soldier. They constantly happen to run into large groups of said soldiers, only to easily dupe them and head on their way.


(Stanton) #42

I have to agree with Goodfella, the script lacks obviously intelligence, but at the same time the plot is one of those which needed some intelligence to work. And, I’m repeating me, the characters are much too flat.

And therefore it’s only a would-be drama.

My supposition: It was only a money job for Corbucci, and in contrast to Navajo Joe one which hadn’t suited his talents.


(Romaine Fielding) #43

[quote=“stanton, post:42, topic:578”]the script lacks obviously intelligence, but at the same time the plot is one of those which needed some intelligence to work.

And therefore it’s only a would-be drama.

My supposition: It was only a money job for Corbucci, and in contrast to Navajo Joe one which hadn’t suited his talents.[/quote]

I don’t know. I like this one more with each viewing. Maybe I just have a soft spot for Joseph Cotton.

It is only partially useful to talk about poor scripts in Spaghettis. I do this all the time myself in my own posts too. But the reality is that MOST Spaghettis have holes in their plots and logic. Goodfella, if you’re lookin’ for logic you came to the wrong place. It does not exist in any recognizable form in the Italian west.
I do think Goodfella gets it a little wrong in his observation about the bathing scene. She goes more than 10 feet and she does go to a hidden area and Gino Pernice DOES follow her serepticiuosly. But I won’t quibble too much about that.

Stanton, I don’t think that all of the performances are flat. In fact, I think that Norma Bengell’s performace may be the most accomplished by a woman in a Spaghetti. At least at the moment I can’t think of a better one. The ancillary characters (Pernice, Aranda) are indeed flat charicitures, true.
But I also liked Cotton, Mateos & Martin in their roles and performances.

Blah, blah, blah. Just my opinion.


(Stanton) #44

Flat are mainly the 3 brothers, who should be the centre of the film, but can’t occupy it. Cotten is ok, but he seems desinterested, only acting without heart.

Bengell’s character has some more flesh on it, but not enough. (Somehow I don’t like her looks)
There were many charismatic women in Spags for me, but not her, and I have to think about accomplished performances, there must be some, not too much, sure.

Stereotyped or flat characters are no problem in films like the Sartana’s for example, quite contrary they add to the fun of these type of SWs.

But films like The Hellbenders or The Ruthless Four (which are not typical for the genre) suffer on the quality side if they fail to create believable characters, and a careless developed plot could kill them.

The R. 4 is quite a good film, preferable to The Hellbenders, but could be better if the director had shown a deeper understanding for the relations between his characters, and had some more ideas how to develop them to a more satisfying end. So he ends somewhere in the middle with a good, but not too interesting western.

But in The Hellbenders all the ambitions are only assertion.


(Stanton) #45

Poor scripts. Well … hmm …
Of course many SWs were produced for only a handful of lira, and money was also saved in the screenplay department.

I don’t think that SW scripts are generally poor, only because most of them are not interested in psychological deepening or fail to deliver the usual dramatic solution.
They mostly serve the style, and style it is what matters in SWs.
Don’t forget it’s a very visual genre.

There are enough SWs which have a well constructed, in itself logical plot, which shouldn’t be mixed up with something like believability or even “reality”.


(Romaine Fielding) #46

[quote=“stanton, post:44, topic:578”]Stereotyped or flat characters are no problem in films like the Sartana’s for example, quite contrary they add to the fun of these type of SWs.
But films like The Hellbenders or The Ruthless Four (which are not typical for the genre) suffer on the quality side if they fail to create believable characters, and a careless developed plot could kill them.[/quote]

Your point is well taken. I was too broad in my assessment that “most” Spaghettis suffer from poor/illogical plots/stories. There are differences among them and some DO aspire to a higher standard, even if they don’t reach it.
Even so, I think better of Cotton’s performace and, especially Bengell’s.
And shit, I just loved the twist-of-the-knife ending.
But that whole beggar thing with Al Mulcock (like a lot of other parts of the movie) came out of nowhere.
If I may be so immodest to quote myself, I said this about the Hellbenders in another thread: “In a way, this is really a “road” movie that is almost episodic in its stucture. It is made up of a series of improbable events strung together to form a journey of existential and even, perhaps, eternal damnation.”


(Romaine Fielding) #47

[quote=“stanton, post:45, topic:578”]Poor scripts. Well … hmm …
Of course many SWs were produced for only a handful of lira, and money was also saved in the screenplay department.

I don’t think that SW scripts are generally poor, only because most of them are not interested in psychological deepening or fail to deliver the usual dramatic solution.
They mostly serve the style, and style it is what matters in SWs.
Don’t forget it’s a very visual genre.

There are enough SWs which have a well constructed, in itself logical plot, which shouldn’t be mixed up with something like believability or even “reality”.[/quote]

We both agree that there are different kinds of Spaghettis. The Spaghetti that was made for the urban audience or for playing in larger urban theaters was of a higher quality and had a different standard than the “lesser” Spags (as I understand it) which played in the second and third run movie houses.
We often talk about Spaghettis as if there was no distiction to be made between quailty, target audience, etc.
I don’t know that style was the defining characteristic. I think action. Western action, of course, so it had a certain look and style that was much imitated.
But most of the lesser Spaghettis that I have seen seem like formulaic compositions that throw in some unusual (sometiems bizarre) elements to add variety and differentiate them from the mass of others.
I would say (as a matter of opinion, not of empirical fact) that the overwhelming majority of lesser Spaghettis contained illogical elements. The better Spaghettis were, well, better, but not imune to the vagaries of plot confusion.
To further confuse matters: there is a difference between being generally logical and being logical within the confines of the movie plot. I think Goodfella was saying that Hellbenders was illogical in the broader sense and I was taking issue with that. Within movie plots it is possible to be perfectly logical and be far removed from any “real life” logic.
Don’t know if that makes any sense but I am too tired to rewrite it! :slight_smile:


(Stanton) #48

That’s perfectly ok, I know (and knew) what you mean.


(Goodfella) #49

Im sorry, but the making excuses for poorly written script does not fly with me. Plenty of films have had low bugets and have great scripts.

Spag or not theres simply no rexcuse for a poorly written screenplay. A screenplay doesnt have to be perfect to work but at least some some effort as to be put into it. Some passion. A couple small plot holes or what not isnt going to sink a film.

just looking at spags take Sabata for example, scripts far from perfect but the films awesome. Same with a classic like Django.

Besides the whole spags having poor scripts by default appraoch really doesnt fly when you have films like The Great Silence and especially Keoma in the genre. Granted it was written on the fly but that only makes it even more impressive.

All im saying is a good films a good film and genre as nothing to do with it in the end.


(Stanton) #50

It wasn’t meant as an excuse. It only explains why there is a greater amount of sloppy screenplays.

You’re right with everything you say.

And amen to that.


(Goodfella) #51

Amen brother


(Reverend Danite) #52

Well I like it!
I’ve just watched it again, for the 3rd time in 5 or so years, and it kept me hooked til the end (yet again).
Starting with a brutal and realistically executed ambush that involves cold-bloodedly mopping up the wounded, and also includes shots of the dead and dying horses, it moves on to become (as RF states) a road movie - that follows the fortunes and misfortunes of some interestingly flawed characters. These include a sexual predator and a messed up anti-hero amongst the brothers, and a lush of a ‘wife’ - all tied to the ‘hellbender lizard’ and a million dollars in a coffin, via a naive and idealistic father. It starts good and it gets better.
There are some plot-holes and a there maybe a clumsy lack of reason in tying things together at times. But these are outweighed by the set, eposidic dramas that revolve around peoples’ attitudes, and the amount of compassion afforded to a perceived dead body, and to the real (then perceived) million dollars in the coffin.
These range from a societal, honour-bound and ultimately hypocritical respect from the ‘enemy’, to genuine heartfelt pain from friends, contrasted with an honest disrespect bred from indifference from a guy who simply values a pair of boots more highly than the dead.
I think, unlike some, that this is a well thought out film of vignettes that plays with and contrasts attitudes about the human condition, dealing as it does with love, honour and dishonour, sexual violence, and the promise of what the dollar bill might bring, all emanating and revolving about a non-existant body.
… And I had no problem with the bathing scene, whereby she’s followed to the river in the attempted rape. Having just found out thet she’s wearing the dress that her predecessor was murdered in, wanting to take it off to bathe is a good enough context for me to believe in. The pretext works for me, and altho’ obvious to us where it would lead, I was prepared to go with her wanting to wash - after all, people did do that, and she did have a ‘brother’ that was looking out for her as well, and was (meant to be) affording her some protection.
Maybe (as I said before) this film is a bit clumsy in the links between, but it’s still poetic in the vignettes, and I’m with RF - ‘improbable’ maybe - but definately an ‘existential’ journey, and an enjoyable one at that.
4 outa 5 from this brother. Recommended!


(ENNIOO) #53

Well I think this is a great film, and never bores me.

Some great suspense moments, with a good opening massacre scene, and I think the score by Morricone adds to the tension. The story is what I like as keeps you on your edge of your seat, with plenty of doom in the story.
Joseph Cotton has never been better, as a man obsessed with his quest.


(davidf) #54

it’s in my top 20 at number 4. i think it’s great.as i’ve said before on here we all have different opinons, each to their own, that’s what makes it interesting :wink:


(Goodfella) #55

Yep, thats why i really dig this site. People can disagree without others acting like pricks, as they do on most boards.


(Bill san Antonio) #56

[quote=“Goodfella, post:55, topic:578”]Yep, thats why i really dig this site. People can disagree without others acting like pricks, as they do on most boards.[/quote]Yes, that’s so great here. But you were not around during the SD days… :-X


(ENNIOO) #57

You never know a future SD could be lurking around the corner…


(Silvanito) #58

SD wasn’t here from the start though, only a few months and then he was banned


(Pacificador) #59

Well I just watched this for the first time and I liked it. The characters worked well for me and I thought that Cotten was excellent. I can see the points made about the costuming however, the hats looked cheap. I would agree that the ending came up a little suddenly, but I would suggest that it was done on purpose to jar the viewer and leave them thinking.

I’ll stick my neck out and say 4/5 from this guy!


(Dillinger) #60

I got one question regarding this flick:

It contains great music, but it sounded quite familiar to me. It was recycled somewhere. Do you know where?