Big Gundown, The / La resa dei conti (1966)

5.0 out of 5

In the same year as The Big Gundown Lee Van Cleef would star as Angel Eyes in the incredible Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. While this film did not quite scale those lofty heights it is nevertheless an exceptional western from director and writer Sergio Sollima who apparently remade this as Revolver.

While on the surface The Big Gundown is a manhunt movie, which incidentally subverts the traditional black hat/while hat convention, beneath the surface there is something else that is really interesting going on. Not only is La resa dei conti a western but it is a clever political thriller and ideological polemic dressed in cowboy clothes.

Starring Van Cleef as Jonathan Corbett, a bounty hunter and supporter of progress but not profiteering who is more popular in Texas than Davy Crockett and Tomas Milian as the hunted Mexican Cuchillo, the film takes a pointed look at corporate greed, political patronage, the manipulation of the the political process and with the villain being an Austrian noble it could be seen as referencing the Third Italian War Of Independence. Targets also include Mormon child marriage which is handled in a playfully satirical way.

As per the title the finale consists of a gundown that is of a certain stature and there is a throwing knife versus gun fight that really has to be seen. There is a sequel, which also stars Milian, with the English title of Run, Man, Run.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics