Sabata (film)

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(Ehi amico ... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso!)
Sabata DVD cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Frank Kramer
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Screenplay by Renato Izzo
Gianfranco Parolini
Starring Lee Van Cleef
William Berger
Pedro Sanchez
Aldo Canti
Linda Veras
Franco Ressel
Antonio Gradoli
Robert Hundar
Gianni Rizzo
Music by Marcello Giombini
Cinematography Sandro Mancori
Edited by Edmond Lozzi
Distributed by PEA (Italy)
United Artists (US)
Release dates
  • 16 September 1969 (1969-09-16) (Italy)
  • 2 September 1970 (1970-09-02) (US)
Running time
102 minutes
Country Italy
Language English

Sabata (Italian: Ehi amico ... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso!, roughly translated as Hey buddy ... that's Sabata, you're finished!), is a 1969 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Gianfranco Parolini. It is the first film in The Sabata Trilogy by Parolini, and stars Lee Van Cleef as the title character. Parolini had previously had a major success with the first Sartana spaghetti western If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death (1968), but the sequels were given to other directors, such as Giuliano Carnimeo. Producer Alberto Grimaldi contacted Parolini for a similar series of Sabata.[1]


Sabata, a man of few words, arrives in a small Texas town to foil a bank robbery, and discovers that it was a plot by the town's leaders, who want to sell the town to the railroad. Sabata blackmails the leader, Stengel, who then sends various thugs to try and kill him, among them a conflicted killer named Banjo, so named for the musical instrument he carries that conceals a rifle.


Sabata - A gunman of almost superhuman accuracy and questionable morals, he solves the majority of his problems with a combination of superior firepower and accuracy. His weapon of choice is a peculiar four-barreled derringer, alongside a rifle with an extended barrel.

Banjo - The only man in the film who is almost on par with Sabata gunfighting-wise. Hiding out in the town after some unnamed trouble in Denver, he seems to know everything that is going on in the town, and tries to make money off both Sabata and Stengel. He carries a banjo everywhere.

Carrincha - A fat alcoholic Civil War veteran who hurls knives at people between rants about the dullness of civilian life and the worthlessness of medals. The majority of his sentences end in insane laughter.

Jane - A saloon girl who is attracted to Banjo.

Alley Cat - Carrincha's only "friend", Alley Cat is a silent Indian who performs amazing acrobatics and can escape any pursuer.

Stengel - The effeminate villain of the story, he engineered the robbery that set the whole plot in motion. Very smug in the belief that he is superior to the rest of humanity, he kills people with a dart gun concealed in a cane.

Ferguson and Judge O'Hara- Stengel's increasingly reluctant partners in crime.


The Virginia Brothers, a team of acrobats, along with a dozen of Stengel's henchmen, rob the town bank. The acrobats are able to jump into the bank's uppermost window and kill all the guards. The robbers then load the town safe into a wagon and escape with 100,000 dollars.

Just as they leave the town, Sabata (Lee Van Cleef) rides in. Outside the town saloon, Carrincha has been tossed into the street for not having any money. Seeing his friend Alley Cat, Carrincha yells at him, and starts to rant about how dull civilian life is, then seeing Sabata (whom he does not know), continues about how his Civil War medal couldn't even be traded for a bottle of whiskey.

Sabata, sympathetic, takes out a silver dollar and tosses it into Carrincha's hand. Carrincha happily re-enters the saloon and buys a drink. Sabata enters the saloon, and notices that an old man is being cheated out of his money in a dice game. Drawing his pistol, he blows apart the dice, saying that they are loaded. A man, eating dinner across the saloon starts to stand up, but Sabata aims at him and orders him to sit down.

The man whom Sabata ordered to sit down starts to surreptitiously draw a gun, but Sabata quick-draws and blasts out the front legs of the chair on which the man was sitting, causing him to fall face first into his food. At that moment, Banjo starts to play a melody on his banjo. The man screams at him to stop, and Banjo complies, saying (with feigned innocence) that he thought the man liked music with his supper.

A mortally wounded bank guard bursts into the saloon, tells everyone that the bank's been robbed, and dies. Everyone panics, running to the bank.

The robbers (minus the Virginia Brothers acrobats) are riding away from the town, when they notice Sabata is standing in their path, 6-700 yards ahead of them. Aiming a rifle at the robbers, Sabata yells at them to go back to the town. One of the robbers turns to a friend and says "There isn't a Winchester going that can shoot half that distance." before being shot and killed by Sabata. Sabata uses his rifle to kill six more robbers. He takes the wagon back to town.

In the morning, just as the military and posse are planning how to go about the manhunt, Sabata rolls in with the safe and the bodies of the robbers. Carrincha is impressed that Sabata killed seven people, but is dismayed that he accepted a lousy 5,000 dollars when he could have taken the entire 100,000 from the safe.

Later, Sabata walks into the town's hotel and rents a room, tossing a coin onto the front desk. He encounters Banjo, whom he apparently knows. Banjo says that he can barely recognize Sabata, because he returned the safe.

While this occurs, Stengel discusses the robbery with Ferguson and O'Hara. O'Hara is scared that the dead robbers will be linked to them. He accuses Stengel of foolishness, revealing that the reason Stengel engineered the robbery was to get money to buy land, which will vastly increase in value when the railroad has to pay him for permission to lay tracks over it. O'Hara continues by saying that he is leaving the town for good. Stengel points his dart gun (concealed in a cane) at O'Hara and threatens to kill him if he leaves town. After O'Hara leaves, Stengel tells Ferguson that he sent his top henchman, Oswald, and some men to take care of the Virginia Brothers, who can be witnesses against him.

Oswald meets with the Virginia Brothers at their hideout so that he can pay them. However, this a ruse, Oswald and his men double-cross the Virginia Brothers and kill them. One of Oswald's underlings ask him what they should do about the Virginia Brothers' wagon, which was still in the town. Oswald said that he sent three men to take care of it.

In the town, Sabata is talking with Carrincha. He has deduced that acrobats were involved in the robbery (to get into the top window). The only acrobats in town are the Virginia Brothers, and they have mysteriously disappeared, leaving their wagon behind. As they discuss it, the three men come into town and start to leave with the wagon. Realizing that they are involved, Sabata yells at them to get away from the wagon. They resist, and Sabata kills them. Carrincha recognizes them as Stengel's men, which makes it all clear to Sabata.

Later that night, Oswald returns to Stengel's ranch (which is more akin to a military fort with guards everywhere) to tell him that the job is done. They meet in the Stengel's main room, which is a large room decorated with historical items. On both sides of the room, there are metal shields shaped to look like people, except with a hole where the heart should be.

Stengel, after being briefed, tells Oswald that now only he can link him to the robbery. Watching Stengel load a dueling pistol, Oswald realizes that he is going to be murdered. Drawing his revolver, Oswald retreats to one of the shields, while Stengel retreats to the other. Oswald fires a couple of rounds into Stengel's shield, but none go into the hole where the heart is. Stengel, on the other hand, fires one shot, which goes through Oswald's hole, and into his chest, killing him.

Sabata, who had been watching the whole thing, fires a couple of rounds near him and then rides off into the night. Stengel, with a bunch of men, runs off onto his porch. Sabata, hidden in the night, calls out that he has the Virginia Brothers' wagon, which is evidence against him, and that if Stengel wants it back, it will cost 10,000 dollars.

Stengel tells Sabata that if he comes over, he'll get the money. Sabata has a separate wagon with a record player on it ride into the Stengel ranch unmanned. The record player gives off Sabata's voice prerecorded. Thinking that Sabata is in the wagon, Stengel and his men fire into it. However, the only thing inside is dynamite. When the wagon explodes, Sabata, still hidden in the night, calls out to Stengel and says that now the price is 20,000 dollars.

Sabata returns to the town and sits out on a porch, acting like he was there the entire time. Banjo comes out and commends Sabata on giving Stengel a run for his money. Sabata claims that he hasn't moved from his spot the whole night. Banjo replies that then he'd better keep his horse tied up, lest anyone think otherwise.

The next day, Banjo tells Sabata (for 200 dollars) that he has learned that Stengel has no intention of paying the 20,000.

Not long after Banjo's visit, four gunmen raid Sabata's room. They fire at Sabata's reflection in a mirror. Sabata guns down three of the killers, then hunts down the fourth, but allows him to live. Sabata tells Stengel that the price is now 30,000 dollars.

Stengel tells Ferguson that Sabata will never stop blackmailing them now, and that they need an outsider. Ferguson then hires a hitman named Sharky (whom Sabata kills).

In the saloon, Carrincha is attempting to pawn off his Civil War medal to Banjo, who won't take it (as worthless). Two more hitmen enter the saloon. While one holds the saloon patrons captive, the other goes up into Sabata's room. Sabata kills the first hitman, and the second is killed by Carrincha.

The town's Catholic priest, Father Brown, has Sabata meet him to discuss his recent killing spree. When Sabata arrives, he meets an assassin disguised as Brown who has been hired by Stengel. During their conversation, he attempts to surreptitiously draw a gun hidden in a handkerchief. He stops, however, when Sabata offers him a bag of money as a donation. When the paid killer pulls the bag away, a string connecting Sabata's hand to the trigger of Sabata's gun (which is hidden in the bag) pulls tight. The gun goes off, killing the would-be assassin. Sabata promptly get Stengel and tells him that now the price is 60,000 dollars. Stengel tells him that he'll have it tomorrow.

As Sabata walks away, Stengel desperately aims a rifle at Sabata's back, but stops when he notices that Banjo is watching him from across the street.

Five men from Denver come into town looking for Banjo, who kills them with a rifle concealed in his banjo.

The next day, at the meeting place, Banjo attempts to kill Sabata, but Sabata shoots the rifle out of Banjo's hands. He demands to know how much Banjo was paid, and when Banjo doesn't answer, he fires three warning shots. Thinking that Sabata is out of bullets, Banjo dives for his rifle, which Sabata shoots away with a barrel hidden in the grip of his pistol.

Sabata asks how much Banjo will get for killing him. Banjo replies he was offered $100,000, the total amount of theft. Then he orders him to go. Ferguson, who watched the situation, also leaves.

Later, Stengel gives Banjo another chance to kill Sabata, warning him not to fail this time. Sabata suddenly appears, and Stengel immediately orders his men to pursue. The men follow Sabata into a dead-end canyon. After reaching cover, Sabata removes his costume, revealing that he is in fact Alley Cat in Sabata's trademark black wardrobe.

Alley Cat stands n a prepared see-saw and is propelled on to the canyon wall when Sabata shoots a bag of rocks that lands on the other end. Stengel’s men are ambushed by Carrincha and Sabata. Triggering dynamite explosions, they cause a landslide of rocks that trap Stengel's minions in the canyon.

After that, Sabata, Carrincha, and Alley Cat prepare to raid the Stengel’s ranch, using dynamite placed in strategic locations. During this operation, one of Stengel's men is killed and placed in a position to make it appear that he has fallen asleep, which keeps the others from raising an alarm while Sabata, Carrincha, and Alley Cat work to lay their traps.

When the attack begins, Stengel runs inside his fort with his remaining men. Judge O'Hara, who has long harbored doubts about Stengel's strategy, sees that the battle may be lost and leaves the ranch.

Sabata and his friends enjoy the advantage of complete surprise. Many men are shot dead by Sabata and Carrincha, or killed by dynamite thrown by Alley Cat while they attempt to hold Sabata and Carrincha off with a Gatling gun.

Stengel and his few remaining followers take refuge in the house. Inside, they are dispatched by Carrincha and Sabata. Ferguson also dies after being shot in the head (presumably by Stengel) Finally, Sabata comes face to face with Stengel, who being in the room where he earlier dispatched Oswald, believes he has the advantage of knowing how to win a duel (by shooting through the same hole from which he mortally wounded the hiding Oswald). However, Stengel hits a switch with his foot, which blocks the bullet.

Sabata only had the one shot in the duelling pistol and has now used it. Stengel thinks he has the upper hand and, before shooting, Stengel made a mention about the superiority of men, saying that it lies in having the right final card. Sabata says he wouldn't bet a dollar on that last card, throwing a dollar on to Stengel's cane. The cane is booby-trapped to fire a poison dart, which shoots out and penetrates Stengel's chest, killing him.

Sabata and his friends go out, apparently victorious. Suddenly Banjo appears and shoots Sabata, grazing his neck. While Sabata rubs his wound, Banjo asks for the 100,000 dollars. Sabata explains that it is in the bank, to be paid by Judge O'Hara to save his reputation.

They agree to have a duel the next day in the town. Banjo fires before the count off is over, thus gaining the drop on Sabata. He fires, and Sabata falls, apparently dead. Wordlessly, Carrincha covers his friend, a crestfallen Alley Cat by his side. Banjo receives the reward and takes the corpse of Sabata, saying he will take charge of its burial.

Banjo leads the wagon to the outskirts of town, where he attempts to dump the wagon and ride away with the money. But the bag is shot from his hand by Sabata, who has faked his death, rising from the wagon with rifle in hand. As Carrincha and Alley Cat ride up behind the wagon, Sabata tells Banjo that he will lose most of the money and will have to settle for a half-share of the reward with Carrincha.

Sabata proceeds to load the money bag on his horse, but not before giving a good amount to Carrincha. Then, with an apparent second thought, he leaves a wad of money behind for Banjo. As Banjo stoops to pick it up, Sabata shoots the wad, scattering the bills into a sudden gust of wind and tells Banjo "You'll have to work for it," Banjo chases after the flittering paper, catching a few as the wind carries it.

Carrincha asks: "Hey friend, who the hell are you?" With a laugh, Sabata replies: "Didn't I ever mention it?" as he rides away. Carrincha offers Alley Cat a stray bill, but Alley Cat refuses. Carrincha then takes a large share of his own haul and hands them to Alley Cat, who stuffs the money into his vest.



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