Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 9th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, August 24th, 1968
Director: Umberto Lenzi
Writers: Marco Leto, Eduardo Manzanos Brochero, Vittorio Salerno
Cast: Peter Lee Lawrence, John Ireland, Gloria Osuna, Eduardo Fajardo, Julio Peña, Raf Baldassarre, Piero Lulli, Franco Pesce, Andrea Scotti, Calisto Calisti, Francesco Narducci, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia, Paola Natale
Approximate running time: 84 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono German
DVD Release: X-rated Kult DVD
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Germany)
Retail Price: $29.95
Synopsis: After spending time in a prison camp for refusing to fight during the Civil War Jim Slade returns home only to find his family slaughtered at the hands of bandits. Jim is a devoted Jehovah witness who has never shot a gun. He convinces a friend to teach him how to shot so that he will be ready and able to kill the four men who murdered his family. Jim quickly disposes of the first three men and while looking for the fourth man he reluctantly agrees to help defend a town whose sheriff was just killed by bank robbers who have ties to the man he has been looking for who murdered his family.
Umberto Lenzi is chameleon like director who throughout his career has worked in the genres that were the most popular at the time. One genre he barely dabbled in is the Spaghetti Western in which he would only two films, One for All and A Gun for One Hundred Graves (both in 1968). The plot for A Gun for One Hundred Graves is one of the more unusual that I have comes across in a Spaghetti Western. The films hero Jim Slade is a reluctant killer who also doesn’t drink any alcohol. Also he has strong religious ties to his Jehovah witness faith. In the role of Jim Slade is an actor named Peter Lee Lawrence who has all the physical attributes one would look for in a leading man. He just lacks charisma and depth in his acting. One of Peter Lee Lawrence’s first roles was in the role of Mortimer’s brother-in-law in For a Few Dollars More.
Umberto Lenzi tends to get knocked by many cult fans because his films are often work fire hire jobs that lack a personality and while there may be some credence to this theory there is still no way of denying that most of his films excel when it comes to their visual style. A Gun for One Hundred Graves may not be Umberto Lenzi’s strongest film visually; still it does feature some memorable compositions that are striking in their design and execution. The two scenes in the films that stand out the most are a scene were Jim hidden in a casket helps smuggle money out of town into the graveyard and the films finale were Jim finally gets a chance to settle the score with the last of his families killers’. One that is common in many Umberto Lenzi films is pushing violence to its limits. The level of violence in A Gun for One Hundred Graves is not as sadistic or graphic when compared to some of the more brutal Spaghetti Westerns made during the mid 1960’s and late 1960’s.
The film does feature some colorful secondary characters like an old man who makes coffins and buries the dead. This character his relationship with Jim Slade reminds me of the relationship that the man with no name shared with the coffin maker in a Fistful of Dollars. One bizarre addition to the plot was the inclusion of mental patients who are kept in the jail because the locale asylum burnt down. These characters add very little to the plot and one has to wonder why they are in the film at all. Jim is not the only gunfighter rooted deep in a religious background. Around the time Jim arrived in town another stranger a man Douglas who quotes from the bible and doesn’t like to kill unless he is provoked has also just arrived in town. The acting as whole is adequate with no real performance that grabs your attention. Angelo Francesco Lavagnino’s score has that same guitar feedback feel that so many Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western scores have to them. Overall A Gun for One Hundred Graves is a fun ride that has all the elements which make Spaghetti Westerns so enjoyable.
A Gun for One Hundred Graves is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 scope aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated and at times lively. Details look crisp and black levels look good with some lack of shadow detail in darker scenes. Overall the transfer for A Gun for One Hundred Graves looks pretty darn good and there is no noticeable print damage.
A Gun for One Hundred Graves comes with three audio options English, Italian and German. All three are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The English audio mix has a noticeable background noise that is present for most of the mix and at times the audio sounds a tad too flat.
The Italian sounds the best of the three audio mixes and there are no subtitle options with this release.
Extras for A Gun for One Hundred Graves the Italian language trailer, a photo gallery, German language opening credits and three minutes of Alternate scenes (in German). This release also comes with a bonus film Antonio Margheriti’s “Vengeance” which is in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It is the ninety five minute version of the film and the only audio option is in German (no subtitle options). Vengeance also comes with a theatrical trailer and two bonus scenes. Vengeance was already released once before by X-rated Kult DVD and this version included with this release looks and sounds like a direct port minus English and Italian audio mixes. On its own A Gun for One Hundred Graves is a solid Spaghetti Western and it would have sweetened the pot with this release if Vengeance included an English audio option.