Friday, January 10, 2014


One of many westerns featuring the ever mysterious character of Sartana, played here by Gianni Garko. In this one, which falls somewhere in the middle of his numerous film appearances, the plot is the familiar “bad guy wants your land (for gold/oil/a railroad) and will do anything (lie/cheat/steal/kill) to get it.” Sartana – did I mention he’s ever mysterious? – winds up in the middle of things, helping the lovely young Abigail Benson hold on to the land left to her by her uncle against the depredations of, well, of pretty much everybody in the movie, actually.

While not as stylish as some of the better known Italian westerns, nor as realistic as others (too many clean people and streets here), this movie offers a lot to enjoy for those who aren’t expecting things to conform too closely to reality.

Sartana Will Pay is actually fairly light on gunplay for a western; Sartana seems to favor a small, dainty pistol in many cases, though he’s no slouch with a rifle, either. He also knocks some heavies around with his pocket watch and fob, and uses playing cards as weapons on several occasions. As I watched the many unusual weapons used in this film, and some of the odd fights, I kept being reminded of Jackie Chan. So it was only appropriate, I guess, that at the end of the film Sartana has a kung fu fight with the evil Chinese owner of a casino. Something for everyone, right?

This last touch may have been courtesy of screenwriter Giovanni Simonelli, who a few years later would help bring Mr. Hercules Against Karate (1973) to the screen. The other screenwriter here, Roberto Gianviti, would go on to work on a number of interesting films directed by Lucio Fulci, including A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) and The Psychic (1977). Given the breadth and (weird) depth of these writer’s credits, it’s not surprising that their take on the western would be a little off kilter. Frankly, I admired the way they melded the cliché (see plot synopsis above) with the offbeat. I don’t know if it was meant to be tongue in cheek or campy, but I do know it was a lot of fun.

As for the title…It’s literally true. As Sartana goes about dispatching various bad guys, and collecting the bounties on their heads, he always follows up by paying for their funerals. Well, except for Colorado Joe, who winds up being blown up in a mining tunnel. Still, technically, Sartana does see that he’s buried, so…

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