Una Pistola per Cento Bare (1968)

a.k.a. - Pistol for a Hundred Coffins (USA)

Peter Lee Lawrence stars in a rather uninspired Spaghetti Western from director Umbero Lenzi. German R0 X-rated Kult DVD.

The Film

When the Civil war breaks out, Jim Slade (Peter Lee Lawrence) refuses to fight, citing his Jehovah's Witness faith and he is duly sentenced to two and a half years hard labour. After the war he is released and returns home where he finds his family have been murdered and their farm looted. Decrying his pacifism, Jim sets out to track down the four men responsible, killing three of them easily - but the fourth, Corbett is leading a ruthless gang in an assault on a small town bank and Jim finds himself drawn into the middle of the fight to defend the town, although he is hampered by the escape of a gang of axe-murdering lunatics locked up in the town asylum.

Co-written by Eduardo Manzanos (who penned a large number of now largely forgotten genre titles, including Los cuatro salvajes (1967)) the film starts very quickly and races through Jim's characterisation, leaving a lot of questions unanswered. A big deal is made of him not knowing how the use a gun, but we never find out how he learns to use it, he simply arrives at the first killing as a talented gunslinger - there was plenty of opportunity to have his first kills being very messy, or complete failures, but it is never taken. Equally the potential to make some political or religious points which the storyline seems to set-up is also missed - we could have seen Jim sent to jail as an innocent lad who would not hurt a fly, but emerge a hardened killer, or perhaps seen how pacifism is folly in the face of desperate criminals. Instead the film rushes through the opening and the first three kills in less then twenty minutes before getting into the main body of the story, at which point his character seems to be nothing more than a typical Spaghetti Western anti-hero and the opening of the film becomes all but irrelevant.

The story once Jim arrives at the town is pretty typical Spaghetti Western stuff, the addition of the crowd of jailed axe wielding lunatics is the only thing that really makes the film stand out, but it does seem like those scenes were simply added for that reason and much like the characterisation of Jim at the opening, they play no real part in the plot. Fans of Umberto Lenzi will doubtless be disappointed that, despite their potential, these scenes eschew the gore and sex for which he is best known and in this regard the film certainly shows its age, with sleaze kept to a real minimum. Pacing is pretty slow but fortunately the build up to the climax is strong with some clever twists and turns and the ending is very fitting.

Director Umberto Lenzi is best known for his later crime and horror films, but spent most of the 1960s directing action movies. His work here, on one of just two Spaghetti Westerns he ever made, is solid, but certainly nothing special. The film looks and feels just like a typical genre entry and the soundtrack from Euro-cult regular Angelo Francesco Lavagnino makes it sound just like one too.

Peter Lee Lawrence was the babyface Italo-Western star and was well used in roles where he loses his innocence to become a gunfighter (cf. Su le mani, cadavere! Sei in arresto (1971)), but with the script racing over these scenes, he doesn't get much to do except look moody and fire his gun. Big American actor John Ireland had been a star of several American Westerns in his day, but by the late 1960s had found more work in Europe, appearing in several Euro-Westerns; he gives a solid performance as the preacher, but never gets very much to do either. Piero Lulli is perfectly cast as the villainous Corbett, a role he played in dozens of genre films and looks just the part here. Spaghetti Western fans will recognise plenty of familiar faces in the supporting cast, especially Eduardo Fajardo (Major Jackson in Django (1966)) who plays the lead maniac and seems to really relish the part.

Una Pistola per Cento Bare is a decent, but rather generic Spaghetti Western, with pedestrian direction, some average performances and a script that misses a lot of interesting potential but does at least build to a good ending. Fans of the Spaghetti Westerns might enjoy this, but it certainly does not rank among the genre's best, while Umberto Lenzi and Peter Lee Lawrence fans will similarly find that there are a lot better films to see first and neither are on top form here. Not generally recommended.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Peter Lee Lawrence - the youthful star of several Spaghetti Westerns including I Giorni Della Violenza (1967)
Directed by anyone interesting? Umberto Lenzi - an Italian director best known for his cannibal horror films Cannibal Ferox (1981) and Eaten Alive (1980) and the low budget zombie movie Nightmare City (1980).
Any gore or violence ? A number of deaths but only a little blood.
Any sex or nudity? None.
Who is it for? Spaghetti Western fans might enjoy this, but it is not on the must-see list.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
Picture quality is decent, colours are rather washed out, but there is minimal print damage or grain.
The night-time scenes, shot day-for-night, are very dark and it is almost impossible to see what is happening - noticeably bad in the key scene when the lunatics escape.
Audio English mono - sounds good most of the time, but there are some drop-outs and a couple of missing sound effects. Lip-sync is noticeably off at times.
German mono - sounds okay, slightly tinny.
Italian mono - sounds best, with the best lip-sync.
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Original Italian theatrical trailers.
  • Photo gallery - including posters, publicity stills and lobby cards. As a video file with music.
  • German title sequence.
  • Two of the blue-tinted day-for night scenes, without the tinting.
The disc also includes:
  • Bonus film - Vengeance (1968) aka Joko invoca Dio... e muori - anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation, with a good looking print. German only, a shorter domestic print of the film running to 95 minutes.
    • Includes a trailer and two deleted scenes.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability German release - DVD Title: Ein Colt für 100 Särge
Packaging The DVD is contained in a large hard-box case (there might also be an amaray version).
Other regions? Available from Seven 7 in France, with English, French and Italian audio - details unconfirmed.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is Italian.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 20th September 2007 - updated 20/6/13.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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