Monday 18 March 2013

Movie Review: Fistful Of Lead (1970)

Also known as I Am Sartana, Trade Your Guns For A Coffin (and various variations thereof), Fistful Of Lead is a semi-official entry in the Sartana Spaghetti Western franchise. Under any name, the movie is well below average in all respects.

Bounty hunter Sartana (George Hilton) stumbles upon a robbery of a transport wagon presumably carrying gold. But once the bandits are done killing all the guards, they attempt to blow up the wagon without looting the cargo. Sartana stops the explosion and discovers that the wagon was carrying nothing but sand. He decides to investigate an apparent con whereby hard working miners are being cheated out of their income with staged robberies.

Sartana follow the trail to businessman Samuel Spencer (Piero Lulli) and his main assistant Baxter (Carlo Gaddi). Spencer is stealing the gold for himself and arranging fake robberies with the bandit Mantas (Nello Pazzafini) to cover his tracks. Local madame Trixie (Erika Blanc) wants in on some action, while a mysterious and flamboyant gunman named Sabbath (Charles Southwood) shows up to either protect or steal the gold, depending on the opportunity.

Nothing about Fistful Of Lead really works. George Hilton as Sartana lacks charisma and carries little menace. His ability to gun down opponents in sets of threes even when they get the draw on him is over-used to distraction and becomes tedious in the extreme, both for the blatant dumbness of the bad guys and Sartana's seemingly extraordinary ability to invisibly reach across time and space when it suits him. The loaves of bread and boiled eggs are quirky traits of limited effectiveness.

Spencer and Baxter as the evil plotters are lightweight villains, while the entire scheme of repeatedly stealing gold from under the noses of miners and faking violent hold-ups to avoid paying them would only ever succeed in the script of a dreadfully lacking western. And it's never quite clear what Erika Blanc's character is exactly doing in the movie other than providing perfunctory eye candy.

While Sabbath's appearance a good 50 minutes into the film, complete with parasol, marginally livens proceeding, director Giuliano Carnimeo and writer Tito Carpi do not help themselves by steering Fistful Of Lead to an exceedingly complicated final chapter filled with convoluted antics and double-crosses. There simply isn't enough substance on show to justify attentiveness to all the over-elaborate conniving.

With a Francesco De Masi music score that only rarely rises above the routine, Fistful Of Lead is mildly irritating and wholly unnecessary.

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