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3.9 out of 5 stars35
3.9 out of 5 stars
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I am no expert in the genre, but lets tick off the boxes here – Ennio Morricone score, morally dubious heroes, revenge driven story, nasty Mexican bandit baddies who laugh at anything remotely unpleasant, terrible dubbing –yep, must be a Spaghetti Western!
If you are a fan of Spaghetti Westerns, this is among the best, and if you have just been tempted by the Clint Eastwood / Sergio Leone, then I thoroughly recommend this as the next step (right after ‘My Name is Nobody’, the next best thing to a Leone Western).
This is a fast moving revenge Western with an apparently simple plot filled out with memorable characters and situations, and a genually satisfying conclusion. Sure, it does not have the style or panache of Leone, and Morricone’s score is not his best – but a less than perfect score from Morricone is still better than most others, and it is a memorable distinctive musical treat. The alternating themes of strumming guitar and choral voices bring his usual uniqueness to the movie, and the movie benefits greatly from it.
The story follows a young boy who witnesses the brutal rape and murder of his mother and sister, and murder of his father. He grows up as a respectable community member (John Phillip Law), but shuns responsibility while he harbours one thing in mind – revenge. This lies latent until he crosses paths with Ryan (Lee van Cleef), an ex con whose similar drive of revenge seems to coincide with Ryans goal. They form an uneasy alliance which teeters between help and competition to be the one who kills the bad guys.. mostly competing to make sure they get there first.
The movie is not fantastically shot, but not bad – the story is good, but quite epic – what redeems the movie above all else, is the fantastic turn by Lee van Cleef, who easily equals his work in Leone’s Westerns here. This is the mode he was seemingly born to play, and he has immense screen presence, especially with all those close ups of his craggy but clear eyes.. Law on the other hand is a charisma free zone, and the movies weakest point – you can almost imagine how those shoes filled by a greater or even more interesting actor could have made this a classic – but Law walks through the role failing to convince – his only acting trait seems to be when his eyes go wide and his body goes rigid, and you know he has seen one of the bad guys! The rest of the cast are mainly bad guy ciphers, but you can spot a familiar face or two (Mario Brega – who appeared in every one of Leone’s movies I am aware of..).
There are some great set pieces – not as epic as they might be, but inventive – the final shootout in the middle of a dust storm must have been a nightmare to shoot, but is very effective – best of all, the director does not linger too long, and gives the film a nice pace which make the movie a well balanced thoroughly enjoyable 1hour 50 minutes.
In short – no extras, but a cracking good film, with an excellent transfer (hardly a blemish on it). Lee van Cleef is on top form, and it’s one of Spaghetti Westerns finest moments.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 September 2013
Death Rides a Horse (AKA: Da uomo a uomo/As Man to Man) is directed by Giulio Petroni and written by Luciano Vincenzoni. It stars Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law, Carlo Pisacane, Luigi Pistilli, Anthony Dawson, Jose Torres and Carla Cassola. A Technicolor/Techniscope production, music is by Ennio Morricone and cinematography by Carlo Carlini.

As a young boy Bill Meceita (Law), hidden away and cowering, was witness to the rape and murder of his family. 15 years later he is out for revenge against the gang who committed the crimes. Also after the same gang is Ryan (Cleef), fresh out of prison and with his own reasons for vengeance. Two men with the same objective, but not "exactly" working together even as they keep crossing each others paths...

Highly regarded by staunch Spaghetti Western fans, Death Rides a Horse has all the staple requirements in place to understand why that is the case. However, and it is a fun, violent and technically smart picture, it still comes across as a little jaded, even unadventurous. Certainly as an appetiser to the more well known Spaghetti's from the houses of Leone, Corbucci et al, it's filling for sure, a good starting point in fact for those exploring the sub-genre for the first time. But it hardly transcends Spaghetti Western World.

It's ripe with scope landscapes, sweaty close ups of hard bastard anti-heroes and low life villains, violence that grabs the senses as Morricone whirls his musical baton of sublime distortional sounds, and of course there's Van Cleef doing what he does best, acting with a visual skill that says so much whilst actually doing very little. The by-play between Cleef and Law, a future Sinbad no less, is truly enjoyable, as their characters get caught somewhere in the middle of a dusky void that asks them to help or hinder their respective rival.

It all builds to the big finale, where a pretty gentle twist fails to derail the momentum of the action and tension. While Petroni drops in some visual flares which obviously had future directors taking notes. All told it isn't that great a film to feel confident enough about recommending it to the casual film fan, but anyone with an interest in Spaghetti Westerns will find rewards. On proviso that is, that expectation level is set at a suitable level. 7/10
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on 13 February 2014
I saw this film at the Coronet theatre [formerly the Atlas] in Victoria when it was first released. I remember enjoying it,however at the time I was a teenager and perhaps easier to please. I became interested in seeing it again when I heard some of Ennio Morricone's sound track music from it being use in Kill Bill . Finding a watchable copy of the film in Canada has been a real problem, all of the dvds available are god awful cheesy cheap public domain copies. I was happy to find this MGM copy from the U.K. [ it does have to be played on a all region dvd player though]. So after finally watching it all these years later, I still think the movie is an enjoyable spaghetti western. The direction,sets,photography are nowhere near as stylish as in a Leone western. The score by Morricone is good and elevates the movie. Lee Van Cleef, as always, is great to watch. John Phillip Law is also fun to watch though at times I swear he's doing a parody of John Wayne.
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on 4 October 2014
DONT'T RENT THIS ON LOVEFILM!!!!!. Its a 4:3 pan and scanned version. Very poor indeed. The movie is great but stick with pirating it or something to see it in its proper widescreen form. As usual Amazon don't give a monkeys about the version of an old film on LOvefilm
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on 10 November 2009
Giulio Petroni made serveral good Spaghetti westerns, and " Death Rides A Horse " deserves it`s reputation
as a true classic with both a surprising story and a great score from Ennio Morricone.
Lee Van Cleef clearly enjoys his rolle as the master gun-slinger who helps the young John P. Law geting
revenge for the brutal massacre of his entire family. The movie is a serious western, but there is also a
lot of fun in the growing relationship between the old experienced gun-fighter and the hotheaded youth.
The MGM disk is both looking and sounding great - only complain is the complet lack of any extra-material.
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on 30 August 2005
At last! we have this great widescreen-version of this great movie, one of the best italian-western revenge stories!
Great quality, picture and sound and a very good soundtrack by maestro Ennio Morricone.
THIS is the version to buy, forget about the other versions!
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on 9 July 2011
Enjoyable spaghetti western with Lee Van Cleef leading the way in the action and acting. Conversion to DVD is fine. Not the most original story line but typical of a spaghetti western. Two men, one old and experienced, one young and green, both crack shots, find a common reason to work together to shoot lots of baddies. One minute one of the heroes has the upper hand, the next the other hero, or the baddies.

Film cracks along at a good pace with regular bouts of bloody action, some humour, and little love interest.

Worth a viewing or two at least.
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on 4 April 2010
This MGM remastering - with 2.35:1 aspect ratio - finally does the movie justice. Lee Van Cleef is fantastic as Ryan. Luigi Pistilli and Anthony Dawson also make great baddies - particularly Dawson as Four Aces. Morricone's soundtrack is interesting as well. And while it may not be as impressive as Sergio Leone's work, Petroni's Death Rides a Horse is still one of my favourite Spaghetti westerns. It's not perfect but that's part of its charm.
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on 3 August 2015
Slam-bang Italian western from 1967, starring the incomparable Van Cleef, an actor I much prefer to Clint Eastwood. The opening scene may prove a little disturbing, but it provides the motivation for John Philip Law's character to go gunning for the bad guys. The music by Morricone is first-rate, too. This is pure entertainment - and without the often irritating gibbering of a Walter Brennan, the whimsical oirishness of a Victor McLaglen, or the winsome girlies of far too many Hollywood movies. Italian directors must have sent the word out to all the sexiest actresses and models in Rome to dress up as barroom whores!
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on 26 May 2015
Another spaghetti western? Are you kidding? Do not be fooled just because Lee van Cleef is in it!
This is a heinz macaroni 57 varieties of the west.
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