Taste for Killing (1966)

Per il gusto di uccidere

Taste of Killing poster

Tonino Valerii is best known for his film My Name is Nobody, starring Terence Hill and Henry Fonda. The former assistant to Sergio Leone has also given us Price of Power, A Reason To Live, A Reason to Die, and one of the best non-Leone films ever: Day of Anger. Taste for Killing is his first entry in the genre.

Craig Hill as Hank "Lanky" Fellows

Craig Hill as Hank "Lanky" Fellows

It stars Craig Hill as Hank "Lanky" Fellows, a bounty hunter who follows around gold shipments, and then if they are robbed, makes his fortune by returning the gold to its rightful owners. After he recovers a gold shipment stolen by bandito Sanchez (Fernando Sancho in an all-too-brief appearance), the owner is so impressed, he offers him a wager...by insuring the upcoming gold shipment with his bounty, and then protecting it, he can double his money. Fellows takes him up on the offer, and through a series of clever manipulations, not only protects the gold and collects his reward, he is able to exact revenge on the bandit who tries to steal the gold - Gus Kennebeck (George Martin), who we find out killed Fellows' brother some years ago.

Long shot

This was a quality film in terms of direction and acting. One look at the opening credits (which almost took me by surprise as I hadn't read the box beforehand) shows many familiar names, some of which have been associated with some of the very best of the genre. In addition to Valerii, Sancho, and Martin, there's Carlo Simi, Nico Federino, and Stelvio Massi. It was somewhat disappointing, however, because after seeing all those names in the credits, it raised my expectations considerably, and didn't really live up to them. The soundtrack was great, Massi's cinematography was good (but pales in comparison to what he would do a bit later in other films), and Martin was good, too. Craig Hill, who I thought was excellent in I Want Him Dead, gives a more run-of-the-mill performance here, with none of the intensity that made him so good in the other film. All in all, it was a pretty average film, not a must-see, but certainly a decent one in terms of production.

Those of you who've read many of my other reviews have seen that I sometimes have a knack for picking out bloopers. There were a surprising amount in this film, considering the exceptional talent working on it. There was a very obvious cameraman shadow shot:

Oops! Cameramen!

There's a scene where Martin's character is about to break one of his buddies out of jail. As he goes up to the window, you can see the whole area around the bars move, obviously some sort of painted foam thing. He could have pulled it out with his bare hands:

And finally, in the final showdown, with the very cool scene in which Fellows shoots Kennebeck right down the site of the scope, you can see the blood on his eye before the shot:

Now, it may sound silly pointing them out, but I always think these things should, at the very least, be seen and fixed when they edit the film, if not during filming. That's why it always surprises me to see them.

The Wild East version I watched looked good, there was an occasional scratch or such, and one or two washouts that look like they might have been from a different source, but overall it was nice on the eyes. It was an average spaghetti with a decent cast and crew, but nothing exceptional. Valerii's next film, Day of Anger, would be his finest, in my opinion.

The trailer:

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