The Price of Power / Il prezzo del potere (Tonino Valerii, 1969)


(Mortimer) #1

THE PRICE OF POWER, directed by Tonino Valerri, 1969. Starring Giuliano Gemma, Van Johnson, Warren Vanders, Fernando Rey.

database linkhttp://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Prezzo_del_potere%2C_Il

What do you think of this one. I watched it a few days ago and have been thinking about it since. Here’s my review.

The US civil war has ended and President Lincoln is dead. The new president is planning a trip to Dallas, Texas. In the Dallas sherrif’s office a prisoner is being interrogated about a plot to assasinate the president.

Thus begins THE PRICE OF POWER, Tonino Valerri’s allegory of the assasination of President Kennedy (JFK) and racial politics in 1960s America.

There are several things to admire about THE PRICE OF POWER. The scenario is set-up in a quick and exciting fashion. The manner in which Gemma’s character is introduced is handled very well and he is given an interesting backstory. Valerri keeps the audience guessing about the true motivations of the characters and who is and isn’t part of the conspiracy up until the end of the film. The sequence where the president is killed is especially well done, looking very much like the 8mm home movie Abraham Zapruder filmed of the actual assasination of President Kennedy. And Luis Bacalov provides an excellent musical score, worthy of owning on CD.

I can certainly understand why some people would find this movie highly enjoyable. However I found it very frustrating. It seems to take forever before the inevitable assasination actually happens. In the meantime the president gives several moralizing speeches. Understandable, but it’s just too much and becomes repetitive. And there is some obvious filler in the first half such as an entire song performed in a saloon with an offscreen big band!

The second half of the film has many surprises as Gemma unravels the conspiracy, but by then I was so frustrated that I didn’t care anymore. Also certain sequences were given lots of thought and filmed with care but many of the action sequences seem to have been rushed and look sloppy.

On the technical side the synchro of the English dubbing is top notch for a low budget SW (even though the actors did not dub their own voices). From viewing the original trailer it seems the Italian dubbing was handled with the same care.

THE DVD: I watched the NTSC region 0 DVD made by Alfa Digital. I’ve read (but can not verify) they are a bootleg company but this disc does not look like a typical bootleg. It’s a real silver DVD, not a DVD-R. It’s well packaged. The print looks and sounds great, is in original aspect ratio and is 16 X 9 enhanced. There is a nice menu with plenty of chapter stops. There are no subtitles or other options.

My conclusion is this is one you should watch and come to your own conclusion about it. Those with an interest in the Kennedy assasination and US politics of the 1960s will almost certainly enjoy it.

PS: This is my first review for this site. I’d like to add this review to the database. Feel free to give any advice or assistance. Thanks, Mortimer.


Tonino Valerii: The Films (Roberto Curti)
(Lode) #2

I just noticed I have watched it early this year. (Thanks to my blog :wink: ) But I don’t even remember one second. So it couldn’t be that special.


(Mortimer) #3

That’s surprising. How often do you watch Euro Westerns? Were you familiar with the details of the Kennedy assasination before you watched it? (Also, I’ve revised and finished my review since your post.)


(Bluntwolf) #4

I liked the movie. I remember it wasn’t a lot of action in it but concerning the political/socialcritical aspects it was really good, maybe too much talking, or maybe I should watch it again !?


(Lode) #5

I often watch Euro Western. But I wasn’t familiar with this. Or was it? I don’t remember anything of this flick.


(Mortimer) #6

I’m the one who should probably watch it again. I was probably too critical in my review. There are some great things about this movie and it is very highly regarded by many SW fans.


(cigar joe) #7

I didn’t like it all that much either, it was too town bound, and a bit too political with not a whole lot of action.

I don’t really care for Gemma as an actor either he really reminds me of American actor Audie Murphy who had similar type roles.

The only thing I did like was seeing the train trestle, that was a different location that I haven’t seen before but at that time period in the West the trestle would probably been made of wood.


(Yodlaf Peterson) #8

I myself think Giuliano Gemma has a good screen prescence and most of his Westerns are entertaining,check out his performance in Pasquale Squitieri’s “Corleone” to see what a fine actor he can really be. :wink:


(Lode) #9

I actually don’t like Gemma. I don’t known why, but he seems too clean to me. And all of his appearances are kinda amateur ones…


(Mortimer) #10

If I remember correctly Audie Murphy was the guy who won a bunch of medals in World War II and started his acting career playing himself (and variations of himself) in war movies. I don’t remember him looking like Gemma but I haven’t seen a film with him in it since I was a kid. But I do remember that he was one of those celebrity actors – a guy who gets to act not because he’s good but because he’s famous – such as Johnny Halliday.

I thought it was only me who didn’t like Gemma. I will admit I have not seen any of his non-western films, so I don’t know if he was able to show more emotional depth given different types of parts.

For instance in THE PRICE OF POWER he seemed to have only two facial expressions. Maybe if the DVD I have had an Italian language track I could hear emotion in his voice?

The other thing about him in this movie (& I can’t really say it’s his fault alone) is in many scenes his face is very dirty, but when he speaks or smiles you can see he has a mouth full of large bright white teeth. We’re all used to actors today (especially American actors) who have those horrible fake looking bright white teeth, but it’s kind of jarring in a dark & gritty western.


(cigar joe) #11

Murphy seemed to always play clean cut or seeming to be wet behind the ears types, who also seemed to be able to handel a gun unbelieveably well for someone who looked like he just stepped out of Sunday School.


(Silvanito) #12

“…a guy who gets to act not because he’s good but because he’s famous – such as Johnny Halliday…”

Maybe Johnny Hallyday was featured in films because he was a famous singer, but I still think he did a good job in Gli Specialisti. Haven’t seen any of his other films.

Regarding Gemma he is a bit wooden, and maybe even too pretty to be in spaghettis?
I think his most famous sw’s were the two Ringo-films by Duccio Tessari (where he was supposed to have an “angel face”) and later on he starred in many humorous spaghettis, something for which he was more suited perhaps.


(Yodlaf Peterson) #13

[quote=“Silvanito, post:12, topic:392”]I think his most famous sw’s were the two Ringo-films by Duccio Tessari (where he was supposed to have an “angel face”) and later on he starred in many humorous spaghettis, something for which he was more suited perhaps.
[/quote]
Check out “BEN AND CHARLIE” for a Gemma comedy western,it’s a fun buddy film with Gemma and George Eastman (Luigi Montifiore)


(AceHigh) #14

Watched this last night. Thought it was a good spaghetti although serious liberties were taken with U.S. history. I guess for the sake of artistic creativity, who really cares? Thought the supporting actors (and acting) were above average for the genre and Gemma did his usual. Recommended.


(autephex) #15

[quote=“Mortimer, post:10, topic:392”]Gemma.

For instance in THE PRICE OF POWER he seemed to have only two facial expressions.[/quote]

Is one of them, the one where his mouth is wide open and face all contorted/stretched/strained in mid-yell? :wink:


(cm215) #16

I don’t like this film (sounding like a broken record as my few posts are all on threads about movies I dislike!) It’s too much talk and not enough action… and not very spaghetti-like. Maybe it’s a good movie (that I still don’t like) but it’s not a good “Spaghetti Western.” :-\


(Angel Face) #17

I liked this one quite a bit, and not because Gemma is my favorite SW actor. The story is good and Valerii is a capable enough director in turning out an entertaining movie most of the time.


(AceHigh) #18

I enjoyed this one because it was different; and the story was fairly strong. Even though the action was minimal, it never was boring(IMO).


(Dillinger) #19

I watched it about a year ago. I didn’t like it that much back then. Maybe I would see it with different eyes today.


(Stanton) #20

In the long version this is a good SW.

Valleri was trying hard to get a bit more style on this then on Day of Anger. He partly succeeded