And Then... A Time for Killing (1968)

...e venne il tempo di uccidere / Tequila Joe

Last night, I watched Vincenzo Dell'Aquila's And Then... A Time for Killing. In many ways, it's kind of a run-of-the mill spag, but a few things stood out to make it worthy of a recommendation.

As the film begins (with one of those horrible over-the-top songs crooned by Raoul), we see members of the Mulligan gang corner the Mexican Manuerl Trianas (Mimmo Palmara, with ridicuolous hair and fake mustache), who sacrifices an innocent painter to get away. Back in town, a stranger rides in. It's Burt (Jean Sobieski), the new deputy, and he's looking for the sheriff, whose office looks like it hadn't been visited in ten years.

Mimmo Palmara

He finds the sheriff, a drunk named "Tequila" Joe Donnell (Anthony Ghidra), and comes to find that not only is he a serious drunk, but there's a gang war crippling the town between the two gangs. The tension escalates, after a failed brokered meeting between Mulligan and Trianas, in which Trianas kidnaps Mulligan's beautiful daughter, sleeps with her, then turns her over to his gang, who proceed to rape her (reminicent of the scene in Cemetery Without Crosses). Eventually, there's a big showdown, but Burt manages to capture most of the men and jail them. Alas, most of them die in transport by the army... and Mulligan gets his due, as well. We also find out why Burt has come to town, as well as why Joe stays drunk all of the time.

Anthony Ghidra

Anthony Ghidra gives a first-class performance as the drunken Tequila Joe.

Ok, two things in particular make this seemingly average spaghetti work for me. First, I liked the plot, it had just enough going on in it to keep it from feeling formulaic. Second: Anthony Ghidra's performance - it's nothing less than stellar. The genre, with some obvious few exceptions, is not exactly known for top-notch acting. Ghidra plays a real, believable, tragic character. He's always drunk, but never plays it up for laughs. We pity him, and it's very obvious that he's carrying some immense, heavy burden with him. It turns what is a run-of-the-mill film into a story of redemption, of sorts. I was literally blown away, as I'm not used to seeing these kinds of performances in these films. Often, a good performance can be tarnished by a crappy voice overdub. Whoever did the English overdub for Ghidra was remarkable, as well.

That said, the rest of the film, moderately paced, was pretty typical. De Masi's score sounds like something you've heard a billion times before, and there is the typical close-ups and such. Some of the acting's ok, some not so great, and the same for the dialog. Palmara's Trianas character was laughable at times, but by and large, it was decent.

Recommended.

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