Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die!/Oggi a me... domani a te!
Brutal! Violent! Savage! says the poster. Perhaps, but Tonino Cervi's 1968 film Today It's Me... Tomorrow, It's You! is really no different than a lot of others out that year, and it's a mixed bag, to say the least (and no, the heroes in the film do not each have one grotesquely huge oversized hand as the above poster suggests).
It stars Brett Halsey (billed as Montgomery Ford ) as Kiowa. The film opens with him getting out of jail, and heading straight to his father's house to get a huge amount of money he had stashed there. We learn that he intends to round up and hire a group of gunfighters to exact his vengeance upon a man named James Elfago, who we later learn killed his wife, and set him up for a robbery that eventually landed him in jail. To do this he rounds up a group that includes such genre stalwarts such as William Berger and Bud Spencer. As they split up in their pursuit, Kiowa and Spencer's character O'Bannion are caught by Elfago and he intends to once again frame Kiowa for another robbery. However, things don't work out as planned for Elfago, and he and his men are eventually hunted down, with the final standoff being where Kiowa finally gets his revenge.
So, as I said before, a mixed bag. I tend to like Bud Spencer in his non-comedic films. He tends to pull of a lighthearted seriousness, and Brett Halsey was pretty good. He stole his outfit from one or more Djangos, obviously. The acting in the rest of the film ranges from good (with William Berger doing his typical slick thing), to over-the-top atrocious, as was Tatsuya Nakadai's, the guy who played Elfago. His eyes are bugging out in nearly every scene, and he overacts continuously. His acting is much more suited to the Kirosawa films film or something, and his death scene is so unbelievably hammy and drawn out, it needs to be seen to be believed. Why do the low level henchmen and such in these films die quickly, but the main bad guy always seems to take a minute or two to die?
There's a ton of low budget goodness to be seen in this film, as well (which I tend to view as carelessness, more than anything else). There's this scene where you can see the camera truck's shadow for a few seconds:
And then there's a scene where lots of people get shot. You can all-too-clearly see the big bullet squib box-like contraption on the back of one of the guys:
Seriously, how does this stuff make it out of production? Yes, these things are always funny to poke at, but I don't think it's necessarily because of the budget, it's from people simply not paying attention. Details, man!
The score by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino is pretty solid although every time Kiowa breaks out a roll of money to hire his gang, we hear that same creepy sound of the strings of a piano being raked (a typical horror movie sound). By the third time that happens, it gets kinda silly. Also, toward the end of the picture, as Elfago and his men are in the forest being hunted down, we hear tons and tons of jungle sounds. Monkeys. Exotic birds. Nonstop, over-the-top. Seriously, what were they thinking? I was seriously expecting a spider monkey to come down from one of the trees and steal someone's hat or something.
I suspect that the outdoor scenes in this movie was filmed in Germany; there weren't any of the typical widescreen panoramas of the Almerian landscape that we've grown accustomed to. The final scenes take place in a forest with lots of birch trees and such. The town set looks like the one you've seen in the Dollars films and countless others. Also noteworthy is that future giallo/horror legend Dario Argento was one of the screenwriters on this one.
Okay, so perhaps I picked on it a bit, but when all is said and done, I think I enjoyed it. The plot draws a bit from "The Magnificent Seven", (and Argento would revisit this again with his "Five Man Army " spag western), there's some good things happening on screen sometimes. Another twist on the tried-and-true revenge motif so common to the genre. Have a look.