Sabata (1969)


The town-elite conspire to steal money from the local bank in order to purchase land which they know will be worth a fortune when the railroad comes. A bounty hunter, named Sabata, sets out to blackmail the bunch and bring them to justice………..


An almost cartoon-like movie which never takes itself too seriously, this is one of the most unique spaghetti westerns out there. Lee Van Cleef bosses proceedings as the mysterious anti-hero “Sabata”; William Berger (a veteran of mostly trashy italo westerns) gives a stunning portrayl of  the morally compromised banjo-playing-rifle-wielding jester of the town and Franco Ressel is terrific as the arch-villain Stengel. In addition, we have a cracking, if slightly, absurd duo of a mute indian acrobat and a boozy knife-throwing civil-war veteran as Van Cleef’s side-kicks.

The movie is packed full of action sequences, duels, TNT-inspired explosions and witty dialogue. In particular, the staging of Stengel’s duels with vintage-pistols and metallic cut-outs of gunslingers is superb. But it’s simply the richness and quirkyness of the characters that shines through, as well as the bewildering assortment of hand-tailored weapons and guns –  which both the bad guys and the good guys have in abundance! A number of plot twists and the element of mystery surrounding the two lead characters keeps audience interest high throughout (and even between the over-the-top action sequences).

Visually, the film is impressive with a good mix of dark camera shots (much of the movie takes place at night) and stunning landscape location scenes.

There’s a bit of an uneven pace to the film and the soundtrack never attains the heights of Morricone’s western scores but these are minor quibbles for a picture which is as original and exciting now as it was on release in 1969. A film you can watch over and over again.


hotdog rating: 7.5/10


About hotdogcinema

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Posted on November 10, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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