Ace High (1968 film)

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Ace High
(I quattro dell'Ave Maria)
Ace High VideoCover.jpg
Directed by Giuseppe Colizzi
Produced by Bino Cicogna
Giuseppe Colizzi
Written by Bino Cicogna
Giuseppe Colizzi
Starring Eli Wallach
Terence Hill
Bud Spencer
Brock Peters
Kevin McCarthy
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Cinematography Marcello Masciocchi, Technicolor, Techniscope
Edited by Marcello Malvestito
Crono Cinematografica
Finanzia San Marco
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
October 31, 1968 (1968-10-31)
Running time
137 min
Country Italy
Language English

Ace High (Italian: I quattro dell'Ave Maria, literally translated as "The Four of the Hail Mary") is an Italian spaghetti Western by Giuseppe Colizzi from 1968.[1] The film is the second in a trilogy started with God Forgives... I Don't! and ended with Boot Hill.[2]



Cat and Hutch arrive in El Paso where they unsuccessfully try to get bounty for Bill San Antonio from his last earthly remains – the boots. Instead they go to the bank manager Harold – which Bill in the first film disclosed as his partner in setting up the robberies – and an-nounce themselves as Bill to see if they are received. They are, and convince him (not without some physical force) to make them a cashier’s check to be paid out in gold.

The banker visits the condemned Cacopoulous, who is to be hanged the next day, and offers to help him escape if he restores the money. At night the deputy is knifed by two men, who let Cacopoulous out. He takes the dead man’s gun and shoots the two. He pours himself a footbath and tests the dead men’s boots to find a pair that fits. He then pays a visit to the bank manager and reminds him that he and two others put Cacopoulous in jail for 15 years and then, on his release, framed him for murder with a stolen knife, that again was used this night to kill the deputy. Consequently he wants guarantees that he will not be tricked again. Harold throws the knife but Cacopoulous swings the chair so it takes in the back, and then, swinging back, he shoots the manager, adding that it is guaranty enough!

Dressed as a peon on a donkey Cacopoulous meets Cat and Hutch and robs them. They follow his trail south to Mexico and encounter people that he has given money – and also a circus company that he offered money. They catch up with him in a village during a fiesta (that he has paid for). While Cat is lured away looking for him elsewhere, he appears before Hutch and tells him about Harold and the other two ”friends” who shot his horse so he got caught after a bank robbery, and then framed him for murder. He says that he will give back their money, including what he has spent, if Hutch helps him collect his debts with the remaining two. The first one is Paco who is a ”revolutionary” shown presiding over a kangaroo court condemning men to death for ”not fighting for country and freedom.” His men capture Cacopoulous and Hutch, but Cat enlists help from another ”revolutionary,” Canganceiro, by telling him about Cacopoulous´ ”treasure.” Together they defeat Paco’s men and the latter is killed by Cacopoulous, who in his wrath forgets to make him give back any money. After some plunder and raping by his men, Canganceiro starts another kangaroo court that executes people for ”fighting for country and freedom.” Cacopoulous is jailed until he tells where his treasure is. He escapes, but shoots off the saddles of Cat and Hutch, quoting his grandfather that one partner is too little, and two are too many. They ambush the last two men of the pursuing Canganceiro bunch and take their horses.

They now follow Cacopoulous in the opposite direction, encountering dead Canganceiro men along the way, the last ones with their leader just outside Memphis. In Memphis they find Cacopoulous washing dishes in a saloon, together with the circus company – because in this town people are only interested in gambling. That is substantiated by the fact that Cacopoulous has lost all his money while he was looking for Drake, the third ”partner.”

Cat and Hutch visit Drake’s casino. Hutch loses all his money, while Cat spots the croupier looking at a hole in the ceiling. They put up Hutch to win money in a prizefight, buy weapons and give the rest to Cacopoulous, under dire threats from Cat for him to show up with it in the casino tomorrow.

At night the circus line artist Thomas and the agile Cat win entrance to a room in the attic with the peek hole down to the roulette table and a voice tube down to a basement room where a magnet can steer the roulette ball. Cat, Thomas and Hutch take positions in the two rooms. Cacopoulous, however, seeks the company of a saloon girl and awakes in the morning robbed of his cash. He hastily replenishes it by forcibly inviting a bill collector to a ”game” of cards that Cacopoulous ”wins.” So Cacopoulous finally enter the casino, where he repeatedly puts the money on 13 until he breaks the bank with a $360.000 win. Drake and his men have arrived, and there is a showdown where the parties wait until the roulette ball stops, while the customers lie down on the floor and a Wiener waltz is played (on suggestion from Cacopoulous). Drake’s men are shot and he is wounded, and taken by the vengeful customers, who realize they have been swindled. Cacopoulous, who was wounded during the shoot-out, leaves together with Cat and Hutch.


In his investigation of narrative structures in Spaghetti Western films, Fridlund writes that all the Colizzi westerns present clever variations on several different kinds of partnerships encountered in other films inspired by For a Few Dollars More. Also, the pervading protagonists Cat and Hutch are differentiated by a set of physical and personal characteristics that reappear in the even more commercially successful They Call Me Trinity and Trinity Is Still My Name.[3]


  1. ^ Canby, Vincent (October 9, 1969). "Aces High (1967) 'Italian Job' and 'Ace High': Double Bill of Imports at Local Theaters". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano: The Complete Guide from Classics to Cult. I.B. Tauris. p. 165. 
  3. ^ Fridlund, Bert: The Spaghetti Western. A Thematic Analysis. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company Inc., 2006 pp. 199-203, 246-47.

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