in Mexico, Rafael is attacked by gunmen, sent to capture him alive; he
takes shelter in the lodge of a man named Sebastian. It turns out that Rafael has been trying to track him down for years, he reveals that Sebastian's mother was not the woman he thought it was, but rather a noble woman named Anna who betrayed her husband (Sebastian's father) to his death. A servant at the Hacienda secreted Sebastian away and raised him as her own son, Rafael
is an old family friend, and wants to see vengeance served against Anna
and her lover Tomas for what they did. Together they ride to their old
hometown but along the way face attacks from Tomas and Anna's personal
loyalty was a common theme in stories of the Old West with revenge for
a father or mother's murder the usual driving force behind most
anti-heros. Writer and director Ferdinando Baldi had shot 5
Westerns before The Gunman of Ave Maria, and he had explored the theme of patricide previously in Texas Addio
(1966) - this time he rather complicates matters with a far more
detailed mix of characters and links. Mostly a dialogue based Western,
there are a few action scenes - one of the big problem with Texas Addio
(1966) is that the action scenes were rather crudely written in to the
largely dialogue based script, here they are far more a part of the
storyline, and fit in well. The film boasts an inevitable but tense
climax with some unexpected turns.
quick-fire direction can take a lot of getting used too - his dialogue
sequences rarely have the two talkers in the same shot, preferring to
cut between extreme close-ups or long shots of each character as they
speak, similarly the action scenes often have some very fast cuts. This
technique can become rather nauseating at times and sometimes makes it
hard to follow the conversation as it becomes very easy to get the
characters muddled up. On the plus side, Baldi is expert at shooting in
flaming buildings, and the film's firey climax sequence looks amazing.
Composer Roberto Pregadio gives an appropriate and distinctive
soundtrack to the film, he goes for the more traditional guitar
and whistling theme rather than the songs that open most Spaghetti
None of the big names in euro-cinema are on the cast list but all of them perform their roles well. José Suárez is interesting casting as the father as he played the patricidal lead villain in Texas Addio (1966). The only problem comes because the three 'good-guys' all look rather similar, and can get confusing at times.
The Gunman of Ave Maria
is an interesting film with a good plot, but some rather over-edited
direction in some scenes. A better than average Euro-Western it boasts
a good firey climax, but lacks many exciting action scenes that denote
many of the most popular Spaghetti Westerns and hence action fans
probably won't enjoy this title so much. Recommended to Spaghetti
Western fans who prefer more plot than action.
Anyone famous in it?
No-one of note.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Ferdinando Baldi - an often overlooked Italian director who made his home in the Euro-Western genre.
The usual fist, knife and gunfights - a little blood.
Composer Roberto Pregadio gives the film a strong soundtrack that has often been re-used.
Who is it for?
A well written film, recommended to fans of the plot based Euro-Westerns.
The film is shown at approximately 1.85:1 anamorphic wide-screen. Colour. Aspect ratio would appear to be correct. The
image is strong with almost no print damage, minimal grain and good colours. Only the title sequence is slightly lower quality
English mono - sounds good, some very light hiss. German mono and 5.1 surround - sounds good, but the 5.1 mix is quite flat. Some light hiss. Italian mono - sounds good, with no hiss.
Main feature runtime: 1hr 20m 02s (PAL)
The disc includes:
German cinema trailer. Low PQ. (2m 30s)
German title sequence. Low PQ. (2m 21s)
Artwork gallery - German promotional artwork and pressbook. Presented as video track, not scrollable, no music. (5m 43s)
German press advertising. Presented as above. (5m 40s)
lists for cast and director. Presented as above. (11m 15s)
Bonus trailer for Zum Abschied noch ein Totenhemd (1968) (a.k.a Vendo cara la pelle). (2m 35s)
Bonus trailer for Ohne Dollar keinen Sarg (1966) (a.k.a The Bounty Killer). (2m 53s)
Region 0 (worldwide) - PAL
Japanese DVD, non-anamorphic print, but does include interview with director and deleted scene.
film is believed to be uncut. Titles and credits are in Italian.
A well written film, although
often overdirected. It should appeal to fans of the plot based
Westerns, but not enough action for some.
The DVD has a good print and audio although extras are light.