Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day of Anger

Day of Anger (I Giorna Dell'ira)  (1967)
Dir: Tonino Valerii
Staring Lee Van Cleef, Giuliano Gemma

When aging gunfighter Frank Talby (Van Cleef) comes to the town of Clifton, Scott Mary (Gemma) uses his arrival as an opportunity to change his life, learning how to be a gunfighter. As he accompanies Talby he starts to question Talby's true intentions.

This is the second film from Tonino Valerii, who started out working behind the scenes for Sergio Leone and eventually started directing his own films. And this one is a great one. It's a story about a abused guy, who after meeting a gunfighter that has arrived in town, tries to learn his trade. What's interesting about this movie is how it plays as a darker version of The Shootist. In that film Ron Howard's Gillom looked up to the character of Books, who is presented as a noble character. Sure he's killed people, but he realizes it's not a thing to be proud of and in the end, Gillom learns that he doesn't have it in him to be like Book. This film is quite the opposite. Talby is a good teacher, passing important lessons down to Scott, but what seems like a revenge scheme is actually part of a plan to take over the town of Clifton. As he does this, Scott becomes disillusioned with Talby, who now sees Scott as a threat, due to him being superior in his skills with a pistol.

Lee Van Cleef is fantastic in this film, presenting a Frank Talby that is both friendly and likable and cold and menacing. It's an inpressive performance, and it's hard to imagine anyone else playing this role as well as he did. But a lot of why the movie works is the on screen chemistry that he has with Giuliano Gemma. If those two didn't work well together, the film would fall apart. Another thing that is great about the film is the score by Riz Ortolani, which is one of the best in the spaghetti western genre.

The movie is also shot and paced well. From a scripting standpoint it's prefect, with every scene furthering the plot by either setting up or paying something off. A great example of that is the final confrontation between Scott and Talby, where all of the lessons that Talby taught Scott are recalled and paid off. There's also an excting duel on horseback where the participants must prepare muzzle-loaded rifles while charging at each other.

I do have to say something about the blu-ray released by Arrow Films. They have remastered the film for their blu-ray release, and it looks fantastic. Arrow has really been doing some great work since they have started releasing discs in the States, but this one really surprised me. It's got me looking forward to checking out their release of Cemetery Without Crosses, which I also have in the unwatched movie pile. It appears to be available to stream for Prime members on Amazon, but I am not sure which version it is, but it's available to stream and that's good.

This movie is great.It usually ends up on lists of the greatest spaghetti westerns, and it deserves every bit of praise that it gets. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

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