Death Rides a Horse
|Death Rides a Horse|
American theatrical poster
|Directed by||Giulio Petroni|
|Produced by||Henryk Chrosicki
|Written by||Luciano Vincenzoni|
|Starring||Lee Van Cleef
John Phillip Law
|Music by||Ennio Morricone|
|Edited by||Eraldo Da Roma|
|Distributed by||United Artists (US)|
|August 31, 1967|
|120 minutes (Italy)
114 minutes (US)
Death Rides a Horse (aka Da uomo a uomo, or As Man to Man) is a 1967 Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni, written by Luciano Vincenzoni, and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.
Bill (John Phillip Law), a boy whose father was killed and mother and sister were raped and murdered in front of him by a gang, sets out 15 years later to exact revenge, having used the time to become an expert marksman with a gun.
Each of the outlaws bears a characteristic that Bill memorized while watching his family slaughtered. One has a tattoo of four aces on his chest, another a scar, one a distinctive earring and one a necklace bearing a skull, while he saw the face of the fifth.
As he begins his journey, a gunfighter named Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) is released from a prison after serving 15 years there. He was framed for an armed robbery by the very men who murdered Bill's family.
When they meet along the way, Ryan gets the better of Bill, who is blinded by vengeance, but he does Bill no harm. In the next town, Ryan asks for a man named Cavanaugh (Anthony Dawson), whom Bill recognized later as the man with four aces tattoo. Bill managed to kill Cavanaugh in a duel, but the more experienced Ryan insists on tracking the other outlaws alone. They cross path again in Lyndon City, where Ryan meets rich banker named Walcott (Luigi Pistilli) and demands his share of the robbery 15 years ago, But Walcott stages a robbery on his bank and frames Ryan. When the tables are turned later, Bill reciprocates, helping Ryan escape from a jail. An equally determined Bill sets out ahead of him.
Bill reaches a Mexican town, where he recognized the man with the big earring and guns him down. He is captured by the outlaws, beaten and buried alive from the neck down (He also recognized the man with the scar and Walcott). Left to die in the hot sun, he is rescued by Ryan, who shoots several men standing guard. Preparing for the gang's return, Bill notices that Ryan is wearing a necklace with a skull. Ryan admits he was present during the murders. He gives his word that once the outlaws have been dealt with, he will remain to face whatever justice Bill seeks.
In a final shootout during a sand storm, the last remaining man who killed Bill's family has him dead to rights, only to be killed by Ryan's thrown knife. Bill nonetheless insists on revenge. Ryan's gun is empty, so Bill tosses a bullet to him. He has just one bullet left now himself. Ryan turns his back and walks away, daring Bill to shoot him in the back. Bill fires, but it is only to kill a surviving outlaw. A grateful Ryan then watches him ride away.
- Lee Van Cleef as Ryan
- John Phillip Law as Bill Meceita
- Carlo Pisacane as Holly Spring Station Master
- Luigi Pistilli as Walcott
- Anthony Dawson as Bert Cavanaugh/Manina/4 Aces
- José Torrès as Pedro
- Carla Cassola as Betsy
- Archie Savage as Negro Soldier
- Mario Brega as One-Eye
- Guglielmo Spoletini as Manuel
- Angelo Susani as Paco
- Giuseppe Castellano as Sheriff
- Franco Balducci as Lyndon City Sheriff
- Romano Puppo as Lyndon City Deputy
- Walter Giulangeli as Mr. Meceita
- Elena Hall as Mrs. Meceita
- Bruno Corazzari as bartender
- Natale Nazzareno as member of Pedro's gang
- Felicita Fanny as Marita
- Ignazio Leone as minister
- Nerina Montagnani as minister's wife
- Nino Vingelli as card player
- Remo Capitani as member of gold escort
- Giovanni Scarciofolo as Cavanaugh henchman
- Jose Terron as Walcott henchman
- Mario Mandalari as Walcott henchman
- Ennio Pagliani as Walcott henchman
- Giovanni Petrucci as Walcott henchman
- Vivienne Bocca as Bill Meceita's sister
- Richard Watson as bartender
- Claudio Ruffini as Prison director
Wild East released this in its uncut theatrical version on a limited edition R0 NTSC DVD in 2011.
In his investigation of narrative structures in Spaghetti Western films, writer Bert Fridlund ranges Death Rides a Horse, together with Day of Anger as prime examples of a "tutorship variation" that further develops the play on age/experience between the protagonists in For a Few Dollars More, with Lee Van Cleef playing the older partner in all three films. In the "Tutorship" films, a younger protagonist seeks the more or less reluctant partnership of an older one, but differences of motivation eventually bring them into conflict.
In popular culture
- There are several influences from and references of Death Rides a Horse in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
- "Death Rides a Horse" is a 1970 reggae single from The Hippy Boys, it appears on the B-side of Max Romeos single "melting pot" on the Pama Unity label.
- Fridlund, Bert (2006). The Spaghetti Western. A Thematic Analysis. Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company Inc. ISBN 978-0786425075.
- Hughes, Howard (2010). Spaghetti Westerns. Harpenden: Kamera Books. ISBN 978-1-84243-303-4.
- Weiler, A.H. (July 10, 1969). "Death Rides a Horse (1969) Screen: Double Vendetta". The New York Times.
- Hughes, p.82
- Friedlund, p.165ff
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