Le Pistole Non Discutono (1964)

a.k.a. - Bullets Don't Argue

Rod Cameron and Horst Frank star in this well written early Spaghetti Western with an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. RHV Italian R0 disc.

The Film

Billy Clanton (Horst Frank) rides into a small Mexican town to meet his younger brother George. George is itching to join his outlaw brother in action and has obtained information that in their hometown of River Town, the Sheriff is getting married - a perfect time to rob the bank and make over the nearby border back into lawless Mexico. The robbery does not go to plan, and Billy has to execute the bankers, bringing the Sheriff, Pat Garrett (Rod Cameron) after them. Seeing them cross the border, he is determined to follow, fearful that the Southern states could become outlaw territory if bandits could escape freely into Mexico. With his horse shot out near the border, Garrett meets a young American lad and his sister who help him into town where he captures the Clanton brothers - but south of the border he is acting illegally, and to avoid capture, Garrett has to lead his prisoners through a tough desert region, and a local bandit leader has heard that they are carrying the $30,000 from the bank...

Shot at the same time as Sergio Leone was preparing Fistful of Dollars (1964), this production is a very different affair to that stylised and action packed film - very much in the style of an American Western, there is a lot more focus on characterisation and storyline here and this helps to make the film very tense as we actually care who lives and dies. Interestingly it makes a point of including two famous historical figures, the Sheriff Pat Garrett and outlaw Billy Clanton (one of the men killed at the O.K. Corrall - not to be confused with Billy the Kid), although rather like the heros in a sword-and-sandal peplum, they are put into a completely fictional situation.

The story works in three distinct chapters and the punishing trek through the desert is clearly the film's highpoint, with George badly ill and Bill sniping at Pat throughout, seemingly trying to kill them all; not to mention the group of Mexican bandits after their money. There is enough material here to fill an entire film, although by keeping it limited to about 30 minutes the writers stop this sequence from growing repetitive and slowing the story down. There are a few unexpected twists and turns, and thanks to the strong pacing and characterisation, the film builds to a solid climax. There do seem to be a few missed tricks - the injured George develops a high fever at one point and begins to hallucinate, but we only hear about what he sees - another Euro-cult director might well have shown these to give the film a surreal touch, although in 1964 the Euro-Western was still very rigidly ahereing to the rules of the American Western and it would be a few more years before writers and directors were confident enough to twist and turn this usually straight-forward genre.

Director Mario Caiano (credited as Mike Perkins) does a solid job here and the action scenes are very well shot, although it is clear to see how the impending Leone film would completely alter the way that Westerns were filmed. Shot in a 1.85:1 format, rather than Leone's scope ratio it certainly resembles the traditional American Westerns in every regard. The soundtrack by Dan Savio (none other than Ennio Morricone) includes a rather good opening song and some effective incidental tracks that would re-appear in several later films.

Rod Cameron takes the lead role here, a relatively little known American actor he seems to be cast mostly because he has a noticably John Wayne style presence and had recently appeared in the American Western The Gun Hawk (1963). Lots of imported actors were cast in the early days of the Spaghetti Western to help them pass as American made films, although good performances were generally lacking from these actors, often rather shocked by the low budget approach to film making, fortunately Cameron stands out above this and gives a strong performance. The German character actor Horst Frank had previously appeared in German Western The River Pirates of the Mississippi (1964) and makes his first Spaghetti Western appearance here, in a genre he would revisit several times down the years - although often very stony-faced (as per his character), he gives a typically strong performance throughout. There are no other big names on the cast, but a variety of familiar faces abound and there are good performances all round, even from child actor Luis Durán.

Intentionally written and filmed in the style of a traditional American Western, Pistolo Non Discutono will disappoint anyone looking for a distinctly European film, however with a strong storyline and solid production it makes for a very enjoyable Western and comes recommended to fans of both the American and European productions.

In brief:

Anyone famous in it? Rod Cameron - an American film star in the 1940/50s he made several films in Europe in the 1960s.
Horst Frank - the German character actor who also appeared in the exciting Preparati la Bara (1968)
Directed by anyone interesting? Mario Caiano - the Roman director behind a variety of Pepla and Spaghetti Westerns as well as the Barbara Steele horror film Nightmare Castle (1965).
Any gore/violence? A little blood.
Any sex? None.
Who is it for?
Recommended to Spaghetti and American Western fans.
Good Soundtrack?An often re-used score by the soon-to-be famous Ennio Morricone.


Visuals 1.85:1 Orginal Aspect Ratio. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
The picture quality is very good with only mild grain and a little print damage. There is some slight artifacting in the day-for-night scenes.
Audio Italian and English original mono.
The English track is well dubbed and sounds good. The Italian track has one line in English.
Subtitles Italian - translates the one line in English on the Italian track.
Extras The disc features:
  • An interview with director Mario Caiano. Detailed and full of interesting information, with clips from the film. In Italian with optional English subtitles. 23 minutes.
  • A very spoiler filled Original Italian theatrical trailer.
  • The disc box includes an insert containing a complete cast listing for the film and a little trivia (in Italian).
AvailabilityAvailabe in on its own, or in the Pistole Non Discutono boxset.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? Not available elsewhere.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is Italian language.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 8th April 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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