Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Movie Review: The Moment To Kill (1968)


A largely forgettable Spaghetti Western, The Moment To Kill offers little that is new and comes up short in both style and substance.

Gunslingers Lord and Bull (George Hilton and Walter Barnes) are looking for $500,000 in lost Confederate gold. Judge Warren (Rudolf Sch√ľndler) is an old timer who provides clues to the whereabouts of the treasure before being killed by men working for the evil Jason Forester (Horst Frank). Jason is rich, temperamental, and also looking for the gold along with his father (Carlo Alighiero).

Jason's cousin Regina (Loni von Friedl) is wheelchair bound, but may unknowingly hold the critical piece of information needed to find the hidden fortune. Trent (Renato Romano) is Regina's trusted caregiver, and teams up with Lord and Bull to help Regina and fight-off Jason. But there are many personal agendas at work, and Lord and Bull will discover that all is not what it seems in the quest for riches against the Forester clan.

Lord and Bull are precursors of sorts to the Trinity (Terence Hill) and Bambino (Bud Spencer) partnership from the Trinity series that kicked off in 1970. In creating a dynamic that is only vaguely successful, Lord is the smarter and faster one, while Bull is slower but deadlier, with an ever-present smile and a dedication to offing bad guys with his trusty shot-gun. Hill and Spencer brought significantly more charisma and rapport to their roles compared to the expressively challenged Hilton and the artistically limited Barnes, who barely register a synergistic spark.

Horst Frank delivers his usual intensely engaging performance as the scion suffering a severe case of impatience, while Loni von Friedl enjoys playing Regina as physically vulnerable but holding the power of essential information. Regina is subjected to disturbing abuse at the hands of Jason's unruly men, making their ultimate comeuppance at the hands of Lord and Bull all the more deserved.

The Moment To Kill has several prolonged action scenes, and they tend to liven the proceedings despite rudimentary execution. The energy suffers during several scenes that take place in the dark, and the borderline dull shoot-outs descend into an incomprehensible and uninteresting game of shadows with characters indistinguishable from each other taking cover and trading fire for what seems like eternity.

But the action scenes are the best thing that director Giuliano Carnimeo can deliver, since the dialogue and plot advancement sequences are pedestrian in the extreme. Despite the involvement of Enzo G. Castellari in the script and concept development, Carnimeo simply has nothing to add to countless westerns that have come and gone before. The photography, camera angles, music, and plot of The Moment To Kill are strictly derivative, and quickly become tiresome.

The Moment To Kill is filled with moments of boredom, and not enough moments that deliver.






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