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Bandidos (You Die… But I Live) 
Written by: on December 30th, 2011


Theatrical Release Date: Italy, October 15th, 1967
Approximate running time: 91 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen
Languages: Italian, English

Director: Massimo Dallamano
Writers: Juan Cobos, Luisi Lasco, Luis Laso, Romano Migliorini, Gianbattista Mussetto
Cinematograper: Emilio Foriscot
Composer: Egisto Macchi
Cast: Terry Jenkins, Enrico Maria Salerno, Cris Huerta, Marco Guglielmi, Venantino Venantini, María Martín


Synopsis: Outlaw Billy Kane and his gang execute a train robbery. The sole survivor of the massacre is a prior acquaintance and professional sharpshooter. Kane shoots both his hands and sends him packing. Years later their paths will cross again.

The train job is a shocking opening which culminates in an unforgettable ballad (in English) with haunting refrains regarding the stolen lives of the young women and lovers that were slain by the thieves as the camera pans across corpses that litter the train on the plain. Next we cut to our former sharpshooter and his traveling show as his latest protégé is gunned down during a performance for no reason at all. During the brawl that ensues he is aided by a mysterious young stranger who consents to become the new ‘Ricky Shot’. Who is he really? Talk about the ‘man with no name’.

Director Massimo Dallamano was cameraman on both A Fistful Of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, and his directorial debut hit theaters months prior to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’. Later known for giallo (What Have You Done to Solange?) and poliziottesco (Colt 38 Special Squad), this was his sole spaghetti western, and that’s really a shame. Terry Jenkins’s role as the latest ‘Ricky Shot’ is rather undemanding, mostly requiring him to channel the Clint Eastwood (Monco)/ Franco Nero (Django) stoic gunfighter poise. Enrico Maria Salerno (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage) gives an exceptional performance as the has-been precision shootest, but Venantino Venantini steals the show as ruthless villain Billy Kane.

There is a compelling mystery woven betwixt the rivalries, revenge, and general chaos of this bleak and grim vision of the old west. Great care is afforded to the English dub, and the dialog is quite poetic. The score is excellent, though quite evocative of Ennio Morricone. There are twists and turns galore, the pacing is brisk, and the story quite engaging.

Availability:

There have been several releases from Germany, Brazil, and Japan as well as gray-market DVD-R releases, but this title is long due a definitive R1 release.

Spaghetti westerns come in three basic flavors: sweaty, political, and Hollywood. With the Sweaty Filter on, that eliminates contenders such as A Bullet For The General, A Pistol For Ringo, The Great Silence, Companeros. Once the herd is thinned, Bandidos comes out smelling like a rose.

Note: a review of the lackluster Video Asia release is here.

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