One Damned Day at Dawn... Django Meets Sartana! (1970)

a.k.a. - Quel maledetto giorno d'inverno... Django e Sartana all'ultimo sangue

Fabio Testi and Jack Betts star in Demofilo Fidani's low budget Spaghetti Western. Wild East US R0 DVD

The Film

Jack Ronson (Fabio Testi) arrives in Black City on a stagecoach. He is the new Sheriff fresh from Denver City, hoping to bring some law and order to the town that has been run by the criminals Bud Willer and Paco Sanchez and their respective gangs, since the last Sheriff was killed years ago. At the same time, another mysterious stranger (Jack Betts) rides into town. Willer is unintimidated, particularly by the inexperienced Sheriff and continues to bring his reign of terror to the area, eventually challenging Ronson to a dawn showdown in the middle of town...

Co-scripted by director/producer Demofilo Fidani and his wife Mila Vitelli Valenza, Django e Sartana has an unoriginal and quite simple storyline. The sum total of the defined characters consist of two black hearted villains, two anti-heroes and a friendly local to provide exposition and nothing more. The Ronson character seems to be the one that had the most potential, we learn that it is his first real Sheriff position and he seems quite inept, but little is ever made of this and by the end he seems to be an assured gunhand. As a result, nothing much happens throughout the run-time and the film is quite slow paced but does not drag too badly. Fidani had already helmed two faux-Sartana films before upping the game with the title for this project although there is no trace of either original character in the storyline and the names seem to be just tacked on (indeed the film would seem to work a lot better with the two character names switched over).

Fidani has become notorious for his exceptionally low budgeted Western and crime films and Django e Sartana certainly has a shoe-string feel. Fortunately the production does not try and over-reach itself, with most of the action confined to a couple of interiors and the typical genre town sets that all look good - the few location shots however are obviously just filmed in a quarry. Camerawork is generally solid with some nice angles and effective use of handheld cameras in the fight scenes which also feature some impressive stunt work and balcony dives. The music consists of just a few themes which are used well and not too repetitive but are missing in many of the scenes that could have used it to help build tension.

American actor Jack Betts, under the name Hunt Powers, was a small time television star in the States, but had taken a leading role in the early Spaghetti Western Sugar Colt (1966) and subesequently appeared in La pių grande rapina del west (1967) and in Fidani's Dead Men Don't Make Shadows (1970). He gets little more to do here than play the brooding silent type, but plays his part well. Fabio Testi, oddly credited as Stet Carson on some prints, gets one his first leading parts but seems rather uninterested in the role and is limited by the poorly defined character. A few familiar faces, including Fidani regulars Dino Strano and Benito Pacifico provide a solid supporting cast.

Django e Sartana will never make a best Spaghetti Western list - despite the decent direction that helps to disguise a shoestring production, the script is just too spartan, never capitalising on the potential of the Ronson character and as a result leaving Fabio Testi looking rather bored throughout proceedings. Still, the film is far from unwatchable and genre completists should find something to enjoy.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Fabio Testi - a popular Italian film star who later appeared in L'important c'est d'aimer (1975)
Directed by anyone interesting? Demofilo Fidani (credited as Miles Deem) - a Sardinian film-maker who wrote, produced and directed a string of low budget exploitation Westerns including Passa Sartana... č l'ombra della tua morte (1969)
Any gore or violence ? Nothing more than a few bloodless fist and gunfights
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Of interest to Spaghetti Western fans as a chance to see the unique shoestring style of Demofilo Fidani.

Visuals Aspect ratio 1.85:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour.
Picture quality is generally good - there is some very occasional print damage and a slight lack of detail throughout but colours and contrast are good.
Audio English mono - sounds good, there is some slight background hum in a few scenes.
Subtitles None.
Extras This disc includes:
  • Interview with Jack Betts (aka Hunt Powers) - a very interesting interview in which he discusses his Spaghetti Western career in great detail, explaining how he came to make them, working on the set and his experiences working with a number of different actors and directors. Certainly worth watching. (40 minutes)
  • Trailer - a random assortment of action scenes from the film that actually makes it look like a worse production than it really was. With English text but no dialogue. Non-anamorpic 1.85:1, decent PQ.
  • A lengthy gallery of press-book, promotional images, lobby cards and video covers for the film under various international titles. As a video file with music and chapter stop scrollable.
Additional features are included on the disc for the other included film Dead Men Don't Make Shadows.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - NTSC
Availability Only available as a double-feature with Dead Men Don't Make Shadows.
Other regions? Not otherwise available
Cuts? Cut status unknown - no obvious cuts. Titles and credits are in English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 8th March 2010.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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