Last of the Badmen / Il tempo degli avvoltoi (1967)

3.0 out of 5

George Hilton, the Paraguayan sensation well known for his lighter, comedic roles was really quite versatile in his numerous Italian westerns; more so than probably anyone else in the genre and sadly, less recognized for it. Here is yet another detour from the norm for the actor. His best role is still his tragic performance in the downer western A Bullet For Sandoval. Here, two years earlier, Hilton practices for that later operatic performance in this entertaining and moderately engrossing western film, a variant on the triumvirate structure of Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 1966.

Kitosch works for Don Mendoza, but his libido frequently gets him into trouble especially when he attempts to have his way with his bosses wife. Escaping near death from the men of his employer, Kitosch finds more trouble in the next town and is tossed in jail. Not long after, he's rescued by a brutish man dressed in black named Joshua Tracy, a cold blooded killer. Kitosch accompanies Tracy as he goes about killing those who have wronged him and stealing gold along the way. The two hellions also place a visit to Don Mendoza's ranch where more violence ensues. This unlikely partnership reaches a boiling point by the end of the film when the three principals meet in a chapel for a showdown.

This is one of the better obscure westerns and a showcase for Frank Wolff, a generally underrated American actor who made a brief, but prosperous living in Italian cinema as well as a couple of credits for early Roger Corman productions. Sadly, Wolff killed himself in late 1971. His role as the police commissioner in the sterling Di Leo production Milan Caliber 9 is one of his best moments. Hilton also has a presence, but Frank Wolff takes command here. Hilton also co-starred in another Nando Cicero western, the average Red Blood, Yellow Gold released the same year, in what was more familiar trappings for the actor. Not quite a diamond in the rough, Last of the Badmen doesn't deserve to be at the bottom of western fans viewing list.

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