Judge Daryl Loomis has regular showdowns with rival DVD reviewers.
That trick is worth a fistful of dollars!
As we await Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino's latest cult movie homage, Timeless Media Group presents a second double feature of the original b-grade Spaghetti Westerns. This time, the set features one of the better of the entries not made by Sergio Corbucci and another that, while not as bad as they could get, is still a bottom of the barrel oater released here for the first time on DVD.
Facts of the Case
A Man Called Django!: After his wife has been killed by a gang of thieves, Django (Anthony Steffen, Arizona Colt Returns) grabs his gun and sets out to take revenge, but not before saving the life of an outlaw who happens to know the gang's location.
Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West: A ruthless gang of outlaws led by Black Burt Kelly (Gordon Mitchell, Frankenstein 80) kidnaps the daughter of a local ranchers and flees to Mexico, so the rancher hires Django (Franco Borelli, Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die!) to get her back. Along the way, he comes across good guy gunslinger Sartana (Jack Betts, Gods and Monsters), who decides to join him on his journey south of the border.
Like the other Django! Double Feature that Timeless released, one of the films is far better than the other. Neither comes close to the original, but A Man Called Django! is not bad at all considering the level of many of these B-Westerns. It starts with a great psychedelic credit sequence, the moves into a pretty serviceable genre picture.
Directed by Edoardo Mulargia (Don't Wait Django…Shoot!, under the pseudonym of Edward G. Muller), it's one of the stronger late era Italian westerns that I've seen, keeping the humor to a minimum at a time when the genre had devolved into self-parody. There is a little bit of it running around, with the dumb "fistful of dollars" line and some terrible overacting, but there are a few interesting callbacks to earlier, better entries. Django carries a picture of his dead wife in a music box, which recalls the musical pocketwatch from For a Few Dollars More. That's the big one, but there are plenty of smaller ones thrown around, and plenty of explosive action, rather than just boring old gunfights.
That's basically all that happens in the other film, though. Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West is a terribly boring movie that does feature an excess of comedy. I've never been a big fan of the Sartana character, and putting him next to Django just exacerbates the problem. Doing that never works, as we've seen for years when movie monsters get together.
This one was directed by Demofilo Fidani (Down with Your Hands…You Scum!, under the amazingly awful pseudonym of Dick Spitfire), who made a few other Sartana pictures, none of them very good. The performances are all exceedingly bland, with none of the style or panache that makes the genre worth watching, whether the particular entry is good or not. It makes no sense as to why Django and Sartana would be buddies here, except it is established that they're both somehow nice guys, especially Sartana, who is discussed with awe and reverence for helping the town where he apparently lives. I don't remember him having a very generous nature in what I've seen, but anything to get the characters together, I suppose. All around, it's pretty worthless, and will only have value to the completists out there.
The two DVD set of Django! Double Feature: A Man Called Django!/Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West from Timeless Media Group is as solid as its predecessor, surprising given its cut-rate pricing. A Man Called Django has a strong 2.35:1 anamorphic image and, though it has been released before, definitely looks better than it has in previous releases. The print has been cleaned up reasonably well, with pretty good detail and colors. Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West isn't quite as solid, but it's still fairly sharp, though the colors are considerably more washed out than in the first film. The sound on either isn't quite as strong as the images, but the mono track is fairly crisp with a minimum of noise. For extras, we get poster galleries and trailers on both discs.
A Man Called Django! is good enough, and has a good enough image, to make up for the fact that Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West is essentially worthless. With the low price point, as well, Django! Double Feature: A Man Called Django!/Django and Sartana's Showdown in the West warrants a recommendation for fans of the genre.
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Scales of Justice, Django And Sartana's Showdown In The West
Perp Profile, Django And Sartana's Showdown In The West
Studio: Timeless Media
Distinguishing Marks, Django And Sartana's Showdown In The West
• Poster Gallery
Scales of Justice, A Man Called Django!
Perp Profile, A Man Called Django!
Studio: Timeless Media
Distinguishing Marks, A Man Called Django!
• Poster Gallery
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