The Moment to Kill (1968)

a.k.a. - Il Momento di uccidere (ITA)

George Hilton and Horst Frank star in an uneventful Spaghetti Western for Giuliano Carnimeo. Global DVD RSA R0 DVD

The Film

In the Old West, a hired gun Lord (George Hilton) and his friend Bull (Walter Barnes) arrive into a small town. They are trying to find their old friend Judge Warren, but the boss of the town, Mr Forrester and his son Jason (Horst Frank) seem very unkeen on the presence of Lord and Bull and the pair have to fight off several attacks from Forrester's men. Eventually tracking down the Judge, Lord and Bull learn about the presence of a Confederate gold haul in the town but the clues to its existance are vague and there seem to be several twists to the tale.

Co-written by genre regular Tito Carpi (who would go on to write several of the Sartana films), The Moment to Kill is a rather typical Spaghetti Western from the initial 1966-69 boom period. The storyline is a very generic affair with nothing that we have not seen a thousand times before and it is presented completely without ambition, doing nothing to enliven the formula - a couple of attempts to add mystery and twists fall rather flat because of the simple lack of characters while the unusual 'unfinished' ending comes across as something of a misfire and it is hard to know what the writers really had in mind.

Pacing is on the slow side with even the climactic gunfight being quite slow and much of the storyline seems to be padding - other genre films of a similar length were able to pack in considerably more storyline and action. Hints of Carpi's later work on the comic side of the genre are present in a few lighter (although not all-out comic) scenes and most notable in a trick filled gunfight, although this comes across as rather unnecessary considering that Lord is shown as being an infinitely better gunslinger than his opponents, without need for any decoys.

This film marks the first real Western for future genre regular Giuliano Carnimeo (credited probably for the first time as Anthony Ascott) whose only previous work in the field had been as assistant director on the Franco & Ciccio Western comedies, including I due figli di Ringo (1966). He already shows a good talent for the Western and handles the gunfighting scenes with confidence while cinematographer Stelvio Massi incorporates some original and inspired camera-work to a number of sequences. Set design and production values are certainly nothing to write home about but Francesco De Masi provides yet another impressive score.

George Hilton made his genre debut in Lucio Fulci's Tempo di massacro (1966) and had become something of a genre regular by this time so he looks comfortable in his role throughout - he works well with Bull, played by American actor Walter Barnes who appeared in a long stream of European adventure films, including some of the earlier Karl May Westerns. German actor Horst Frank plays yet another merciless villain role, although his character is unusually subjugated here by his father, played by Arturo Dominici (best known for playing the re-incarnated warlock of Black Sunday (1960)).

A solid and experienced cast, combined with some strong direction are not enough to salvage a generic script in which very little actually seems to happen. Not a bad film compared to many later genre entries, but simply a little dull. Of interest only to fans who have worked through the genre's best works.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? George Hilton - a British raised actor who appeared in a number of Spaghetti Westerns and Giallo films
Horst Frank - a German actor who routinely played Western villains, including in Il grande duello (1972)
Directed by anyone interesting? Giuliano Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott) - an Italian director best known for his work on the Spaghetti Westerns including several films from the Sartana series such as Buon funerale, amigos!... paga Sartana (1970)
Any gore or violence ? Some blood.
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? A decidedly average boom era Spaghetti Western - only really of interest to fans who have worked through the better known genre entries.

Visuals Cropped - 1.85:1 non-anamorphic wide-screen. Colour.
Picture quality is acceptable - some damage and grain but always watchable. Cropping is not usually evident.
Note: opening credits are in the original 2.35:1 ratio
Audio English mono - sounds fine.
Subtitles None
(note: forced subtitles do appear on the screen in the very final moments of the film, see notes below in 'Cuts?')
Extras This disc includes:
  • Trailer for Kill the Wickeds (1967)
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Availability Released in South Africa, available only via specialist DVD importers. (Note: these are pressed DVDs, not burned discs)
Other regions? Released by Wild East in the US, as a double-feature with Uno di pił all'inferno. Available in Germany in a wider ratio (reported as around 2.20:1) but without English options and with at least one cut for violence.
Cuts? Cut status unknown. The final scene of the film appears to be from a different source as the print quality changes and burned Italian subtitles appear on screen (spoken dialogue is still English however) suggesting that there might be alternative endings to the film. The spurs killing scene cut in the German edition is shown in full here. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 11th October 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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