1863 - the American Civil War rages and in Missouri, a Southern state occupied by Union soldiers, the local residents have formed armed gangs to defend themselves from the frequent criminal acts of the Union Soldiers. The leader of one of these gangs, Butch of Springfield (Nello Pazzafini) saves two young ranch hands, Clell and Johs (Peter Lee Lawrence) when they are attacked by Union troops stealing their horses. Although offered the chance to join his gang, Clell and Johs return to the ranch but when Union troops lead by Dan Clifford attack the ranch Clell protests and is killed along with his wife Lizzy (Rosalba Neri). When Johs discovers this he joins up with Butch and his gang to track down the killers and in doing so becomes an outlaw. Two years later, at the end of the war Clifford travels to the ranch aiming to marry the owner's daughter and take it for himself, but when Johs returns and kidnaps her, Clifford and his soldiers set out in persuit across the Southern states...
Co-written by Mario Amendola, who also wrote the wonderfully dark Il Grand Silenzio (1969), I Giorni Della Violenza is a well written and densely plotted film. Largely character based, with only a few action scenes, the scripting provides for a convincing and exciting story with a variety of unexpected twists and turns. The film is briskly paced during the first two-thirds although it slows down a little and the chase sequence in the final third could have been trimmed slightly. Fortunately, although Amendola would later become a comedy film writer, I Giorni Della Violenza is completely humour free and is often a very grim film, making full use of the shades of grey that the Spaghetti Western introduced, almost every character having both good and bad elements on display.
No doubt inspired by Leone's Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (1966) the American Civil War setting of the film's first half is relatively rare in Italian Westerns, although it is not particularly essential to the plot which could have worked just as readily with the guerillas as simple bandits. The characters of Butch and his gang are based on real life groups who operated in the Union occupied areas of Missouri, although the character here is rather more forgiving than his real life conterparts who treated Union soldiers and sympathisers very brutally (the actions of these guerrillas were also explored in Clint Eastwood's Revisionist American Western - The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)).
Director Alfonso Brescia (credited as Al Bradley) is best known for his ultra-low budget sci-fi movies of the 1970s, but he really surprises here with some strong direction and excellent cinematography - the riding scenes are very nicely shot and good use is made of the Leone inspired eye-line closeups. Limited by budget we don't get any big civil war scenes, but there are a few big gunfight sequences that are well choreographed and shot. The orchestral soundtrack from Bruno Nicholai is more akin to an American Western score but it suits the film well, except for a rather misplaced lighthearted piece in the build up to a climactic duel.
Young German actor Peter Lee Lawrence was, for 10 years, a star of European popular cinema - appearing in a variety of war and western films. Despite his babyface looks, he was a strong actor and gives a convincing performance here. Genre regular Nello Pazzafini (La resa dei conti (1966)) plays Butch, while the always attractive Rosalba Neri (Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969)) gives a brief, but very impressive performance as Clell's wife. There are some familiar faces in the rest of the cast and generally good performances all round.
This rather unexpectedly well written and directed film is bolstered by a good cast. Although not the genre's best, I Giorni Della Violenza is an impressive film that deserves to be better known - recommended to all genre fans.
|Anyone famous in it?||
Peter Lee Lawrence - the youthful star of several Italian Westerns including Fury of Johnny Kid (1967)
Rosalba Neri - the beautiful Italian starlet who appeared in every wing of euro-cult cinema.
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Alfonso Brescia - a Roman born exploitation director, best known for his woefully underbudgeted sci-fi movies including the notorious Beast in Space (1980).|
|Any gore or violence ?||A number of deaths and some blood.|
|Any sex or nudity?||Some hints of sexual assault - but nothing seen.|
|Who is it for?||A well written and largely forgotten film, certainly recommended to Spaghetti Western fans.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The picture quality is near perfect with minimal grain and almost no print damage. Rather soft in a few places.
|Audio||Italian and German 2.0 - sound good throughout. (Some scenes in the German track are in Italian)|
|Subtitles||German 1 - Translation of the Italian track.
German 2 - Translation of the Italian track only for the missing scenes in the German audio.
English - Translation of the Italian track.
|Extras||This disc includes:
|Region||Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL|
|Availability||German release. DVD title Sein Wechselgeld ist Blei.|
|Packaging||The DVD is contained in a single disc cardboard slipcase..|
|Other regions?||Not available elsewhere.|
|Cuts?||The film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in German.