The Moment to Kill / Il momento di uccidere (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1968)


(scherpschutter) #1

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.


(Phil H) #2

Nice review Scherp. I have always been intrigued by this film as the only copy I have is a second hand VHS which turned out to have a huge chunk missing from it. (literally cut out and spliced, presumably due to some damage to the tape.)
As you can imagine, not the best way to watch a detective mystery. Here’s hoping it gets a proper release one day and I can watch it in its entirety.


(ENNIOO) #3

I have a nice 2.35 english language version with no subtitles to this one, which is an improvement over the Global disc as the widescreen ratio is cropped to 1.85.1.


(Bluntwolf) #4

Wonderful review scherp. !!! I like the movie very much. Hilton and Barnes are a great ‘Holmes&Watson’ team and the German actors do and fit well once again. I consider myself a huge Francesco de Masi fan and I agree with scherp’s statement that the score including the song “Walk by my side” performed by Raoul is one of de Masi’s finest works !!!


(AceHigh) #5

Truly enjoyed this one. Hilton and Barnes as the aforementioned pair of sleuths were good together and Horst Frank does his usual admirable job as the deranged son. Very nice change-of-pace spaghetti western and plenty of blood and gunplay for any aficionado of the genre.


(ION BRITTON) #6

Not a bad film, but i expected more having read some praising reviews. It is well directed, but somehow the pair of gunmen doesn’t do it for me, especially Hilton who, as a character, is almost always in need of Barnes to get through a difficult situation, i would prefer him if he could stand on his own in one or two cases. Good acting from everyone nontheless. I think it’s a good starting point for Carnimeo although the elements of his film making would be developed to the highest degree in the Sartana films. Oh and the Trinity movies probably owe something to this film. 3/5


(LankyFellow) #7

Yep,the same here !
Everytime when i hear or read about this movie,first i think about this great score that escorts Lord and Bull through the dust
8)


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #8

I personally enjoyed this movie very much. One of the flaws I’ve noticed about this movie was that it didn’t really emotionally invest in its characters. Lord and Bull were cool characters and all, but I didn’t really care whether they lived or died. I didn’t find out what makes them tick. They just didn’t really connect with the audience.

Carnimeo is my fav director other from Leone of course. Always entertaining.


(Stanton) #9

Ain’t that so for nearly all SWs?

A emotional involvement with a SW hero is the exception not the rule. That’s not the way SWs are ticking, at least it’s not what I’m searching for when I watch them.


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #10

[quote=“stanton, post:9, topic:1023”]Ain’t that so for nearly all SWs?

A emotional involvement with a SW hero is the exception not the rule. That’s not the way SWs are ticking, at least it’s not what I’m searching for when I watch them.[/quote]

That is true. But in the case of Moment to kill there was an even greater detachment. Franco Nero in Django, Jean Louis and Kinski in the Great silence, are examples of what I mean, they really allow the audience to see things through their eyes, to feel for them. Even Sartana manages to connect with his audience. We like the guy. We root for him, even though he is superhuman, his habits and mannerisms make him human.

THe case of Lord and Bull was that they were simply just a couple of bounty hunting buddies, nothing more, nothing less. They have no past, they have no quirks, no motivations, they have no unusual habits. They simply are just there. I need a little bit more than that in a SW. But again, I consider this to be not a major flaw, I’m just picking very small bones here, overall I liked the movie.


(Paco Roman) #11

Had some time to write a little Review: :slight_smile:

IMO a fine little SW from Director Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott) with George Hilton as Lord (or Django) and Walter Barnes as his Buddy named Bull. The movie starts with a good title song and an atmospheric scene. In the opening credit you see two guys (Lord and Bull) riding through a hot desert like landscape. Both riders are wearing confederate uniforms and feel the heat. In the next scene they arrive at a house with a fountain. Lord takes a scoop and tries to drink from the cool Water but a typical SW Badass is spitting in his drink. Never a good Idea in a SW. Behind an open window of the house two beautiful eyes of a woman are looking on the incidents outside.

I appreciated all the other atmospheric scenes in that movie too. For example the final shootout appears in a slaughterhouse. It’s always interesting for me to see actors in non usual roles. This time it’s Walter Barnes as Buddy Sidekick Bull. IMO Barnes and Hilton are fit together. Bull is really a helpful Buddy and not as annoying as many others. The all time great bad boy Horst Frank is playing a villain again and yes he is again charismatic and evil. In one scene he shoots just for fun with a repeater on one of his employees. The story round a hidden gold treasure and a kidnapped handicapped girl (played by Austrian Actress Loni von Friedl) is not without flaws but is told efficiently. The Shootouts are good looking and include some ideas. Different Camera Angels, Close Ups not really new to SW Fans but every time effective. THE MOMENT TO KILL is a SW with a lower Budget as usual but IMO Carnimeo is doing a good job in his first SW.

Unfortunately I watched the bad German DVD Version. Which includes bad picture quality, cut, a wide screen made to full screen … and an annoying dub with funny lines likes “Sagte der Herr von der Friedhofsverwaltung” (Said the man from the cemetery administration) or “Grüsse aus Solingen” (Greetings from Solingen). I enjoyed the look of the movie and tried hardly to ignore the German Dub. The DVD was a bargain so I didn’t mind. The German Title “Django – Ein Sarg voll Blut” (A Coffin full of Blood) is a joke by itself. The Moment to Kill is definitely worth to watch.


(Dillinger) #12

Is there also “Haue regiert die Welt” in it? An all-time classic…


(Bad Lieutenant) #13

Gave this one a rewatch yesterday. Still like it as much as the first time. Hilton & Barnes make a nice team and Horst Frank is great. It’s not too gritty, but it’s no slapstick either. Good direction, good music.
I was wondering if the South African dvd is worth the purchase. Can anybody shed some more light on this? I have the Video 49 vhs, which is widescreen and probably uncut. But of course the pic quality could be slightly better, though I own dvd’s that have way inferior pic quality than this vhs release.


(ENNIOO) #14

The widescreen ratio on the South African dvd has been cropped from 2.35 to 1.85. Colours are not the strongest and I have some VHS prints that are better quality than this dvd.

There is a fan version floating around which is in 2.35 though.


(chuck connors brother) #15

I think this could be my favourite Carnimeo western, the ending was brilliant I thought.


(Starblack) #16

A very effective and enjoyable film that epitomises many of the genre’s most vital qualities at this central stage of its development: the black humour, neatly held in check; the comic-book indestructibility of the heroes; the convoluted noir-esque plotting, etc. Almost a companion piece to Killer Calibre 32, although it’s more polished than the latter.

And Stelvio Massi’s work lifts it to a higher plane. He was like Carnimeo’s Tonino Delli Colli. For me, he managaes to make the restricted locations feel claustrophobic, adding to the tension, rather than stagey, as in many other town-bound Westerns.

Like many others I keenly await a decent widescreen DVD release.


(Bad Lieutenant) #17

[quote=“ENNIOO, post:14, topic:1023”]The widescreen ratio on the South African dvd has been cropped from 2.35 to 1.85. Colours are not the strongest and I have some VHS prints that are better quality than this dvd.

There is a fan version floating around which is in 2.35 though.[/quote]
Thank you. I’ll stick to my ex rental tape then.


(korano) #18

I thought this was an interestingly made film which deserves asecond viewing from me. I didn’t care for it that much initially but I was in a distraught mood and watched it only because I was obliged to since I paid the rental price.

Remeber the first nightime shoot out was well filmed. As were the many other set pieces. But it lacks a certain flavor or atmosphere to go with the extravagent style. A little bland if memory serves.


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #19

[quote=“korano, post:18, topic:1023”]I thought this was an interestingly made film which deserves asecond viewing from me. I didn’t care for it that much initially but I was in a distraught mood and watched it only because I was obliged to since I paid the rental price.

Remeber the first nightime shoot out was well filmed. As were the many other set pieces. But it lacks a certain flavor or atmosphere to go with the extravagent style. A little bland if memory serves.[/quote]

Yeah I know what you mean. I can’t seem to put a finger on it, its certainly well made but it seems to lack the “character” of other Carnimeo films.


(elSanto) #20

I saw this one yesterday. I watched the german DVD of VPS/AVU. The aspect ratio was ~ 2,10:1 (not as cropped as the other DVDs on the market which are cut down to 1,85:1 I think). The picture quality was kind of low average VHS-quality however I have seen worse ones. The location of the picture on the sceen is displaced to the top, the is one narrow bar on the top of the screen and one huge bar on the bottom. This could be kind of annoying but I mask my screen with a custom-built mask anyway so it did not bother me :). The DVD has undergone 4 violence-related cuts and the end-titles are missing which is a shame cos the score of Francesco de Masi and the song “Walk by my side” are great.

The film itsself was entertaining and mainly the shootout at the end was well-made. If there wasn’t the awfull comedy-like german dubbing, the cuts and the cropped aspect ratio I would maybee rank it alittle bit higher.

3/5