Il momento di Uccidere (I), Django, ein Sarg voll Blut (D)
1968 - Dir: Giuliano Carnimeo - Cast: George Hilton, Walter Barnes, Horst Frank, Loni von Friendl, Renato Romani, Rudolf Schundler - Music: Francesco de Masi
Two famous gunmen, Lord and Bull, are called to a southern western town by a judge to retrace a gold reserve, worth $ 500.000, hidden there by a Confederate colonel. Shortly after their arrival, the judge is killed, leaving them with only two clues as to where the gold is hidden: the name of the colonel’s favourite book, Camelot, and the name of the man’s handicapped daughter, Regina (Queen). The girl is kept prisoner by her uncle, town boss Forester, on a secret location outside of town. To deter all others, Forester has also hired an entire army of gunmen. Lord and Bull eliminate them all in a series of shootouts, but there are more villains than the usual suspects …
This is Giuliano Carnimeo’s first film as an independent director. He was only brought in when Enzo G. Castellari (who had written the original story with Tito Capri) decided not to direct the movie. Some parts of the already existing scipt were re-worked by assistent-director Fabio Piccioni, who later claimed to have written the entire screenplay and sustained that Carnimeo had blown the movie. Carnimeo and Piccioni apparently didn’t like each other. Carnimeo calls his film a ‘thriller-orientated western’. Two of the biggest clichés of the detective genre are respected here: there are two investigators, the smart sleuth and his more ungainly assistent, and there’s the classical revelation in the last few minutes that will surprise everyone who hasn’t read about it previously. Actually, with its dark humour and several scenes set in a slaughterhouse (!), the film often feels like a gothic thriller, occasionally interrupted for western action.
The film wasn’t received well initially, but today many (among them Carnimeo himself) call it a forerunner of the Trinity movies. And yes, Hilton is a Trinity-like smiling hero and Barnes does the Bud Spencer trick of hitting a man on the cranium instead of the chin, but there’s hardly any slapstick here and the violence is often of a particularly gruesome nature. Even the jokes have a cruel edge, such as the use of Lewis Carrol’s Humpty Dumpty when one of the villains is shot off a roof and therefore has a great fall. Hilton and Barnes seem to enjoy themselves very well, but their ‘partnership’ isn’t always very lucky, with Hilton presented a few times too often as the whimsical, almost supernatural hero who doesn’t even wince when surrounded by dozens of enemies, while Barnes remains down-to-earth throughout the movie, unbeatable in the end maybe, but always vulnerable: in one very nasty scene he is nearly clubbed to death by one of Forester’s henchmen, and only manages to escape thanks to one last, vigorous, nearly desperate effort.
Like many transitional movies, The Moment to Kill isn’t always sure which way to chose, but it’s great fun to watch, not in the least thanks to some excellent supporting performances: Horst Frank is ideally cast as Forester’s psychopatic son and Loni von Friedl turns in an endearing performance as the colonel’s paralyzed daughter, a true Regina with a mind (and a pair of braines) of her own. Stelvio Massi’s camerawork is inventive, but with only a few scenes filmed outside of of the western town, the film occasionally look static, almost theatrical. Ironically, those few outdoor scenes look fine, especially the opening scene, and you wonder why not more of them where shot. It might have been a budgetary problem: one of the producers backed out when Castellari decided not to do the movie. The location scenes where shot near the Tolfa Mountain range, near Civitavecchia, and the Grotte di Salone (where Clint Eastwood recovered from his beatings in A Fistful of Dollars). According to his fans Francesco de Masi’s score is one of his best. It’s alternately eerie and melancholic and the song Walk by my Side, sung by Raoul, is defenitely infectious: I watched the film late at night and was still humming it when I woke up the next morning.
Reviewed version: Thanks to a certain Bill from San Antonio I was able to watch a DVDr with a rare aspect ratio of 1,46:1 and no less than two forced Scandinavian subtitles, one on top of the other. It was a pleasure to watch. This review is dedicated to Pauli.