Part spaghetti western, part espionage thriller, the uniquely-different Euro cowboy flick GATLING GUN makes a long-overdue DVD debut courtesy of Dorado Films. Set amid the Civil War, the title (also known as QUEL CALDO MALEDETTO GIORNO DI FUOCO, DAMNED HOT DAY OF FIRE and MACHINE GUN KILLERS) brings us the tale of Union Captain Tanner (Robert Woods, who has a bit of a passing resemblance to George Hilton in my eyes). Wrongfully convicted of kidnapping both the recently completed top-secret titular weapon and its maker (as well as murdering many government officials), Tanner is given a chance to clear his name by his superior (Tom Felleghy) in exchange for discovering the real culprits.
Assuming the identity of a local rancher (who is incarcerated in a federal prison), Tanner arrives in the town of Las Cruces to work his investigation. There, he meets up with dentist Alan Curtis (Roberto Camardiel), a fellow Union man who is also his secret contact (in addition to being the film’s only form of comic relief). Tanner’s search for both Gatling and his gun eventually leads him to the real villain: a half-breed bandit named Tarpas (John Ireland, in one of his best Euro performances), who is working in cahoots with his mysterious partner. Their plan is to ransom Gatling to the Confederate Army for $1,000,000, and then turn around and sell Gatling’s Gun to the Rebels for another million.
As I stated before, GATLING GUN isn’t your typical genre entry. Writer/director Paolo Bianchini’s story weaves together traditional motifs from both the classic Hollywood and then-modern Euro westerns, adds a bit of espionage into the fray that was so popular during the James Bond-fueled 1960s, and then throws in a minor touch of unsettling gore to boot. A scene of our hero digging out a bullet from his hand is relatively tame (not to mention primitive) by today‘s standards, but the “Ooh! Argh!” reaction it’s meant to derive from its audience is still there. Lead actor Woods delivers a thoroughly decent performance, but it’s ultimately John Ireland’s scene-stealing role that really makes the movie worthwhile. Fans of 1960s and 1970s Italian cinema will also want to check out GATLING GUN for co-starring roles by Ida Galli (billed here as Evelyn Stewart), Claudie Lange and the great George Rigaud.
Dorado Films once again proves that they are a distributing force to be reckoned with by releasing this nearly-forgotten title in an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen ratio. The print contains some grain and a number of scratches (as to be expected, considering Dorado isn’t quite at that point where they can afford to digitally remaster a movie in High Def -- although I won’t be surprised if they reach that pinnacle of manufacturing if they keep providing fans with treats like this), but, for the most part, their transfer of GATLING GUN is commendable. Better still, viewers are given the opportunity to watch the movie in the original Italian 2.0 audio, or in an English-dubbed 2.0 soundtrack. Some of the Italian scenes were cut from the original American release (mainly the more comical moments), and thus, were never translated into English. These scenes are presented in Italian with removable English subtitles.
Special features for GATLING GUN are limited to only a handful of trailers for other Dorado releases (both current and upcoming)…but what a selection it is! Along with the original International trailer for GATLING GUN are previews (all of which are International, best I can tell) for $100,000 FOR LASSITER, BATTLE GIANTS (which looks hella cool!), CRAZY KIDS OF THE WORLD, DIRTY HEROES (also a promising title), FOUR CRAZY DRAFTEES IN THE ARMY, HECTOR THE MIGHTY, HIGH CRIMES, SEVEN FROM TEXAS, SPECIAL MISSION LADY CHAPLIN (another must-see for me) and finally, THE THREE MUSKETEERS OF THE WEST. All trailers are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
On an entirely promotional note, I would like to urge our readers to support Dorado Films’ commitment to quality Euro guilty pleasures by a) buying their releases, and b) visiting them at www.doradofilms.com. And no, they didn’t bribe me to say that -- I say that entirely out of my affection for such guilty pleasures as well as the Indie companies across the world that release them. (Adam Becvar aka Luigi Bastardo - firstname.lastname@example.org)
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