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Death Rides a Horse (Italian: Da uomo a uomo, lit. As man to man ) is a 1967 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni, written by Luciano Vincenzoni and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.
Bill (John Phillip Law), a boy whose father was killed and mother and sister were raped and murdered in front of him by a gang, sets out 15 years later to exact revenge, having used the time to become an expert marksman with a gun. Each of the outlaws bears a characteristic that Bill memorized while watching his family slaughtered and his house set on fire: the first has a tattoo of four aces on his chest, the second a scar, the third one a distinctive earring and the fourth (who was the one who saved young Bill from the burning house) wears a necklace bearing a skull; while he saw the face of the fifth, he never saw the face of the man who saved him from the fire.
As he begins his journey, a gunfighter named Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) is released from a prison after serving 15 years there. He was framed for an armed robbery by the very same men who murdered Bill s family. When they meet along the way, Ryan gets the better of Bill, who is blinded by vengeance, but he does Bill no harm. In the next town, Ryan asks for a man named Cavanaugh (Anthony Dawson), whom Bill recognized later as the man with four aces tattoo. Bill manages to kill Cavanaugh in a duel, but the more experienced Ryan insists on tracking the other outlaws alone. They cross paths again in Lyndon City, where Ryan meets rich banker named Walcott (Luigi Pistilli) and demands his share of the robbery 15 years ago. Walcott stages a robbery on his own bank and frames Ryan. When the tables are turned later, Bill reciprocates, helping Ryan escape from a jail. An equally determined Bill sets out ahead of him.
Bill reaches a Mexican town, where he recognizes the man with the big earring and guns him down. He is captured by the outlaws, beaten and buried alive from the neck down (he had also recognized the man with the scar and Walcott). Left to die in the hot sun, he is rescued by Ryan, who shoots several men standing guard. Preparing for the gang s return, Bill notices that Ryan is wearing a necklace with a skull. Ryan admits he was present during the murders, but arrived late and did not participate; he also rescued Bill from the fire. He gives his word that once the outlaws have been dealt with, he will remain to face whatever justice Bill seeks.
In a final shootout during a sand storm, the last remaining man who killed Bill s family has him dead to rights, only to be killed by Ryan s thrown knife. Bill nonetheless insists on revenge. Ryan s gun is empty, so Bill tosses a bullet to him. He has just one bullet left now himself. Ryan turns his back and walks away, daring Bill to shoot him in the back. Bill fires, but it is only to kill a surviving outlaw. A grateful Ryan then watches as he mounts his horse and rides away.
- Lee Van Cleef as Ryan
- John Phillip Law as Bill Meceita
- Mario Brega as One-Eye, Walcott henchman in waistcoat
- Luigi Pistilli as Walcott
- Anthony Dawson as Burt Cavanaugh/Manina
- Jose Torres as Pedro
- Franco Balducci as Lyndon City sheriff
- Bruno Corazzari as Walcott bartender
- Felicita Fanny as Martita
- Ignazio Leone as Minister
- Carlo Pisacane as Holly Spring station master
- Angelo Susani as Paco
- Guglielmo Spoletini as Manuel
- Vivienne Bocca as Bill Meceita s sister
- Walter Giulangeli as Mr. Meceita
- Elena Hall as Mrs. Meceita
- Mario Mandalari as Walcott henchman
- Nazzareno Natale (c.s.c.) as Member of Pedro s gang
- Ennio Pagliani as Walcott henchman
- Giovanni Petrucci as Walcott henchman
- Romano Puppo as Lyndon City deputy
- Richard Watson as bartender
- Archie Savage as Vigro
Uncredited (in order of appearance)
- Carla Cassola as Betsy
- Nerina Montagnani as the Minister s wife
- Nino Vingelli as Card player
- Remo Capitani as Gold escort member
- José Terrón as Walcott s henchman
- Jeff Cameron as Cavanaugh s henchman
The screenplay and story of Death Rides a Horse was written by Luciano Vincenzoni. Vincenzoni went to work with director Giulio Petroni after having a falling out with Sergio Leone while the latter was making The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.
Death Rides a Horse was released in Italy in August 1967. The film was released uncut in the United Kingdom and United States in 1969.
A contemporary review, the Monthly Film Bulletin declared the film to be a display piece for John Phillip Law and Lee Van Cleef, noting that Van Cleef was in excellent form. The review declared the film to be less gimmicky than most Italian Westerns, and all the better for it. The review noted that the recurring flashbacks were tiresome but had relevance to the narrative. Robe of Variety said that the film wouldn t reach the popularity of earlier Clint Eastwood westerns, noting that the script borrows from other Italian Westerns and that good color photography and an interesting score by Ennio Morricone are the pic s strong points. Otherwise, all technical elements are routine.
In his investigation of narrative structures in Spaghetti Western films, writer Bert Fridlund ranges Death Rides a Horse, together with Day of Anger as prime examples of a tutorship variation that further develops the play on age/experience between the protagonists in For a Few Dollars More, with Lee Van Cleef playing the older partner in all three films. In the Tutorship films, a younger protagonist seeks the more or less reluctant partnership of an older one, but differences of motivation eventually bring them into conflict.
|Plot||A young gunfighter forms a tenuous alliance with an aging ex-outlaw to track down and eliminate the bandits who killed his family, till the surprising end.|
|Stars||Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law, Mario Brega|
|Produced by||Henryk Chroscicki,Alfonso Sansone|
|Music by||Ennio Morricone|
|Cinematography by||Carlo Carlini|
|Film Editing by||Eraldo Da Roma|
|Production Design by||Franco Bottari|
|Set Decoration by||Rosa Cristina|
|Costume Design by||Luciano Sagoni,Enzo Bulgarelli|
|Makeup Department||Maurizio Giustini|
|Production Management||Gianni Minervini,Nicolò Pomilia|
|Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Enrico Bergier,Mario Molli,Giancarlo Santi|
|Art Department||Rosa Sansone|
|Sound Department||Elio Pacella|
|Special Effects by||Sergio Sagnotti,Eros Bacciucchi|
|Camera and Electrical Department||Carlo Carlini,Gastone Di Giovanni|
|Music Department||Maurizio Graf,Bruno Nicolai,Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni,Raul Lovecchio|
|Additional Crew||Tullio Altamura,Roberto Bertea,Carlo Buratti,Emilio Cigoli,Giuseppe Fortis,Virgilio Gazzolo,Cesarina Gheraldi,Carlo Hintermann,Franco Latini,Walter Maestosi,Michele Malaspina,Luciano Melani,Gigi Proietti,Vinicio Sofia|
|Companies||Produzione Esecutiva Cinematografica (PEC), Sancro International Film|