I Giorni dell’Ira / Days of Wrath
Ok, here’s an excellent spaghetti western for you; it’s Day of Anger, directed by Tonino Valerii and released in 1967. Valerii has directed several other fine spags, such as Price of Power and the Sergio Leone-produced My Name is Nobody. This one is a great, story-driven plot on the ‘teacher-student’ theme, with all hell breaking loose at the end.
This one has two of the genre’s biggest stars, Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma. Gemma plays a young guy named Scott Mary, who’s basically the janitor of tiny Clifton, AZ, emptying shit buckets, sweeping porches and such. Everybody in town treats him like crap, and make fun of him because he’s a “bastard child of a whore”, and he pretty much sits there and takes it. He also works in a stable, where the old stableboss, a former marshall named Murph, has taught him how to draw a pistol, really well. Scott has an old wooden pistol he trains with, and is saving his dollars to buy a new Colt.
Lee Van Cleef plays a man named Frank Talby, who, when he rides into town, treats Scott with respect and dignity, buying him a drink at the local saloon and even blows someone away who tries to stop Scott from being served. He’s aquitted on the charges and leaves town, followed by Scott, where we then see Talby trying to collect an old 50,000 dollar debt from some guy named Wild Jack. Wild Jack was double-crossed by the leaders of Clifton, so Talby basically goes back to Clifton, raises hell to collect his debt, and ends up taking over the town, all the while teaching Scott the tricks of the trade.
Needless to say, the power goes to Talby’s head, and without revealing the plot, let’s just say he makes some poor choices, and the result is the student and the teacher having a final showdown.
I loved this movie; it had a great story line, good character development, plenty of plot twists and action, and was entertaining from the get go. In particular, there’s one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen in a spag western when Talby faces off a would-be assasin in a duel on horseback involving muzzleloading rifles… it’s all about keeping the bullet in your mouth. The acting was great; Van Cleef filmed this shortly after coming off of Leone’s Dollars trilogy, and was now a huge star in Europe. He seems to be enjoying this role, was well in his element at this point, and his chemistry with Gemma was quite apparent. The writing was great, and even the English overdubbing was really good. That’s important, because often a crappy overdub can sink what would otherwise be a decent movie. There’s also a great soudtrack by Riz Ortolani, full of twangy electric guitar.
This was the Wild East reissue of the movie, and it looked and sounded fantastic, they did an excellent restoration. Many previous American versions of this movie had about 40 or so minutes cut from it, which is absolutely ridiculous. This is the full 112 minutes.
So, if you’re a fan of the genre, definitely see this one. It is definitely in the upper tier with some of the Sollima and Corbucci films.As I explore more and more of the genre, I still often find myself thinking about how much I enjoyed this film, and it's definitely one you can watch more than once. Enjoy. Here’s the trailer: