No Room to Die (1969)

This unofficial DJANGO sequel, which also went under the English titles of NOOSE FOR DJANGO and HANGING FOR DJANGO, is a highly entertaining Spaghetti Western starring two of the genre's greats. This film is included in the very good R1 budget boxset "The Best of Spaghetti Westerns in the Tradition of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" by Timeless Media.

Steffen and Berger

THE PLOT

In a plot that's lightly sprinkled with some political overtones, illegal Mexican immigrants are being smuggled across the border or cheap labor and exploited by the wealthy and greedy Fargo. Fargo goes so far as to employ outlaws on his payroll. Even more diabolically, he instructs his men to slaughter the hapless Mexicans at the first sign of the authorities to erase any evidence of illegal smuggling. The Mexicans are mislead into thinking that they can escape their hand-to-mouth life in Mexico but end up working like animals for almost nothing once they cross the border. Enter two of the best bounty hunters in the west; Brandon, who is in search of the immigrant smugglers, and Murdock, a bible reading preacher who carries an intimidating weapon reminiscent of Nock's volley gun. Unrealistically, Murdock's gun can seemingly fire off dozens of rounds without ever having to reload.

THE PLAYERS

Anthony Steffen and William Berger are two of the more prolific actors in the Spaghetti Western genre, and they are both at their best here. Steffen, who is Brazil's answer to Clint Eastwood, is a reasonably good facsimile of the "Man with No Name", but unlike many other Spaghetti Western protagonists, Steffen's character is more self-righteous than self-serving, and the film is careful to only reveal his altruistic side towards the end. The gritty yet elegant Steffen is good, but it is Berger that steals the show here, as his character is every bit as over the top as his Banjo character in SABATA. Gunslinging preachers have been done to death in westerns but Berger's impression is one of the best. That always dependable brute Mario Brega serves as Brandon's "Bud Spencer-esque", comic sidekick. Still, it is nice to see the usually villainous Brega play a good guy for once. It can be argued that Riccardo Garrone, who just so happens to be the Director's brother, earned his role of Mr. Fargo through nepotism. But I don't think that is the case here. Mr. Fargo is not the usual hot-tempered, psychopathic, emotionally unstable villain that you often see in films of this ilk. Instead, Garrone does a good job of playing a cool and calculating bad guy. A man possessing intelligence and refinement to go along with his natural cruelty. Nicoletta Machiavelli's character is also rather unique, and stronger than the usual female fare we are used to seeing in Spaghetti Westerns. She is neither a ditzy saloon girl, nor a scheming bitch, nor a passively helpless damsel in distress. Instead, her character is of unusually strong and determined moral fiber. She just so happens to be a prisoner in her relationship with Mr. Fargo. The character's English dubbed voice left something to be desired however, and some may accuse Machiavelli's character of adding a degree of "preachyness" to the film.

THE MOVIE

The shooting never seems to stop for more than a few minutes. This is one of the more action packed westerns you'll ever see, and the action is done well too. Sergio Garrone, who also directed DJANGO THE BASTARD/THE STRANGERS GUNDOWN is competent if unexceptional in the director's chair. Near the beginning, a wagon full of smuggled Mexican's perishing when the wagon is pushed down a hill. You don't actually see the wagon going down; instead you see people screaming and the screen shaking. Stylish but it looks like a low budget cop out to me. The soundtrack by Vasco and Mancuso is also quite good, and never gets tiring or repetitive. I wasn't too crazy about the occasional “De De De De De” rift however.

There is some good atmosphere in this western, but some of the locations hardly resemble the American old west. The dialogue is average and does its job, and there isn't a lot of it. As outstanding this movie is in entertaining value, it's got more than a few flaws. The movie forces the viewer to have an unusually high suspension of disbelief. In one of the scenes, Steffen, who is beaten up, bloodied, and blinded by liquor in his eyes manages to kill three men and injure another with a single whack of the shovel. Later on, he throws the shovel like a javelin, which impales the machete wielding bad guy. This is the deadliest shovel ever seen on film! In another scene, the wife of one of the illegal Mexican's somehow, through divine intervention maybe, finds out that her husband is in trouble, and as if she had some sort of built in radar, she runs through the wilderness and finds exactly where he is. Moreover, she manages to shoot a couple of baddies at long range before getting killed herself. This girl is Superwoman! The movie also features a bizarre and relatively pointless scene showing a cock fight with Fargo looking on, reminiscing about his past in a series of black and white flashbacks. I think they were trying to flesh out his character but nothing ever comes out of it, and it didn't add anything to the overall story. This scene would've been better off on the cutting room floor.

Anthony Steffen

NO ROOM TO DIE

Without its flaws, No Room to Die would've been a masterpiece, but alas, what we are left with is a very enjoyable, action packed, above average Spaghetti with two cool-as-hell stalwarts of the genre in the lead.

back to top

back to reviews page


Write for Fistful of Pasta

the forum



Spaghetti Western Database

More by Len Liu | next: Once Upon a Time in the West | previous: Night of the Serpent

Site design by J.D. Ryan with technical assistance and support from Julie Waters