directed by Carlo Lizzani

starring Lou Castel, Mark Damon, and Pier Paolo Pasolini

CIDIF / Arrow

The best and fastest way to get land is to steal it, and in the post-Civil War years that was an active profession out west where neither Mexico nor the United States has clear control over territory. Confederate Officer George Bellow Ferguson (Mark Damon) promises a peace treaty to some Mexicans near Fort Hernandez, and then he mows them down with a Gatling gun. Requiescant (Lou Castel) was a small child who survives the slaughter and grows up to seek revenge. Adopted by a traveling preacher, he seems simple and highly moral and when his step-sister Princy (Barbara Frey) is lured into Ferguson’s brothel in San Antonio he sets out to free her. He’s up against Ferguson’s posse led by creepy Dean Light (Ferruccio Viotti) and his sidekick Burt (Franco Citti). Burt always has a doll with him; that somehow makes him even creepier. Our questions boil down to these: can Requiescant save Princy? Can he defeat Ferguson? Can he bring justice to the immigrants? And how does he shoot so well?

While the plot moralizes, it’s no worse than any other Western, Italian or otherwise. What makes this special are the wildly imaginative scenes from the gun-scavenging locals who follow Requiescant’s trail of bodies, burying them and taking the guns or his careful gunmanship that takes out Ferguson elbow-by-elbow leaving him unable to commit suicide. But he does have mercy; he completes the kill by dropping a church bell on Ferguson. Requiescant is an uncanny gunman, he’s never touched a pistol yet opens his gun-slinging career by killing two henchmen with one shot each, behind his back, while they are rolling on the ground. He’s unnaturally calm, he never insists or demands, and he simply asks or shoot, as needed. He’s even saved from a bullet by his bible: Way to go, Jesus! Castel is a superb as an aristocratic sleaze ball, he’s good looking even as he’s strangely interested in Mr. Light and imperious when he demands his token black slave confess preferring slavery to a paying job.

Themes of honor and ownership and stark differences between and aristocratic South vs a Democratic North are played out here; all with a subtext of post-war Italian politics where Mussolini is still a fresh memory and Communists run the government. The story takes the elements of a Western and rather than playing them for action and blood Lizzani stages a ballet of honor and gamesmanship. We end with Requiescant challenging Light to a bizarre duel: they stand on stools with nooses around their necks, and shoot away at the legs of the stools. To shoot the other man would be an admission of dishonor. And for some reason, Light goes for it. You will too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Best of Film 2021
    Best of Film 2021

    Lily and Generoso select and review their ten favorite features, seven supplemental films, and two prized repertory releases of 2021.

  • I Saw A Dozen Faces…
    I Saw A Dozen Faces…

    From The Windbreakers to Bark, Tim Lee is a trooper in the rock and roll trenches…and he’s lived to tell it all in his new memoir.

  • The Lyons
    The Lyons

    A man on his deathbed is surrounded by bickering family members, many of which you would strangle him given the chance. In other words: a brilliant comedy!

  • The Reading Room
    The Reading Room

    Today’s episode features author Anna-Marie O’Brien talking about her book Adventures of a Metalhead Librarian: A Rock N’ Roll Memoir with Ink 19’s Rose Petralia.

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

From the Archives