I Want Him Dead (1969)

Lo voglio morto

poster for I Want Him Dead

Revenge is one of the most common themes in the spaghetti western, most commonly revenge for a slaughetered family member or loved one. Some films do this masterfully, such as Petroni's Death Rides a Horse, others not so well. Paolo Bianchinis's 1969 violent effort, I Want Him Dead, is a standard, yet quite entertaining revenge flick.

Craig Hill as Clayton

Craig Hill stars as Clayton. The man wants revenge.

Craig Hill, who sort of looks like a cross between Clint Eastwood and William Berger, stars as a frontier guide named Clayton. As the film opens, we see him travelling with his beautiful sister, Mercedes (Christina Businari). As they pull into town, he goes off to take care of some other matters, and she gets a room in the saloon, where she is soon raped and killed by Jack Blood (creepily played by José Manuel Martín) and a buddy. Clayton returns, finding a pouch that Blood left behind; it's his only clue, and he finds out more about him and sets off to kill him.

As he gets further into it, he finds out that Jack Blood is part of a gang that works for a rather sleazy capitalist named Mallek (Andrea Bosic), who is making a lot of money off of the war (funny how some things never change, huh?). Mallek has gotten word that the Civil War is coming to an end, and knows of a preliminary meeting by two generals (one from each side). He wants Blood and his gang to kill both of the generals, ensuring that the war will continue, at least until he can get rid of the huge stockpile of arms he has.

Jack Blood

Not the best way to get rid of a headache.

Clayton makes it to Mallek's ranch, where he meets two women who work there and are pretty much brutalized and humiliated by the men on a regular basis. One of them, Aloma (played by the stunningly beautiful Lea Massari) seems to have eyes for Clayton. Clayton intervenes on their behalf as the gang is tormenting them, ensuring that he won't be buddies with the gang any time soon. He even kills one of them as they attack and kill the other girl, Marisol.

Clayton gets out of there, taking Aloma with him. As Blood's gang hijacks a Confederate wagon on the way to the meeting, Clayton catches up with them, wiping out the whole gang, saving Jack Blood for last. He rides off with Aloma, on to greener pastures.

I liked this one. Although by no means an exceptional film, it was well-directed, ably acted, and had a good pace to it. Craig Hill plays the lead role quite well, a man of few words, silent stares, and lots of vengeance on his mind. As I watch more and more of these films, it is truly amazing how many of the female leads in them are beyond beautiful; Massari is no exception. Her acting was good, and I really could never get tired of looking at her. What put this film a notch above the generic was the fantastic camera work of Ricardo Andreu. He has an eye for framing up those classic long shots that make the most of the landscape that we spag fans find so endearing:

Long shot 1

He also has an eye for the lighting, too:

Craig Hill, in shadow

The soundtrack by Nico Fidenco is one of those typical ones with whistling, harmonicas, and choral parts, but it workd really well and has some catchy parts. I believe I was watching the Franco Cleef fan restoration one, and the picture and sound was good. Koch Media has a version out, as well. I'd recommend this film - it's a good, solid lesser-known genre entry.

The trailer:

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