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  Django, Prepare a Coffin With A Great Big Gun In It
Year: 1968
Director: Ferdinando Baldi
Stars: Terence Hill, Horst Frank, George Eastman, José Torres, Pinuccio Ardia, Guido Lollobrigida, Barbara Simon, Spartaco Conversi, Luciano Rossi, Gianni Brezza, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia, Andrea Scotti, Robert Simmi, Franco Balducci, Adriana Giuffrè
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A new Senator has been voted in, to the delight of his supporters, but one local politician, David Barry (Horst Frank), is not out to help the people when he can put himself first. Currently he is acquiring land in the state and making a lot of money out of it, but his means are underhand to say the least as he frames the farmers and has them executed at public hangings to get them out of the way, whereupon he pounces on their property and makes a hefty profit. However, one thing he hasn't counted on is his executioner, a certain Django (Terence Hill)...

This was an example of the many Spaghetti Westerns which arrived to cash in on international hit Django, often by making an unrelated effort and slapping the Django title on it to bring the audiences in wanting more of the same. Franco Nero being unavailable, director Ferdinando Baldi, now best known for the novelty-inflected Westerns Blindman and the 3D Comin' At Ya! which kicked off the eighties craze for such things, hired Hill, then an up and coming star who resembled Nero but hadn't quite found his forte in action comedies yet. Not that this prevented companies recutting and redubbing this later to make it sound like a laff riot.

As it stood, there were a few chuckles, but mostly this was deadly serious as Django now has a new job as the hangman, except he's really pretending to bump off the innocents thanks to a contraption he hides under their clothes and fools everyone else into thinking they've been killed. They play dead while Django carts them away, all to create a gang with which he hopes to exact revenge upon Barry and his right hand man, the ever-formidable George Eastman as Lucas. Mind you, our hero isn't wholly moral, as he does gun down three of those he has rescued when they have the temerity to suggest they'd like to go home now and not have any part of his plotting.

Some see Prepare a Coffin as at least a semi-official sequel to the original Django as though the cast and crew were largely different, they did share a writer in Franco Rossetti, and it was true enough that there were elements they had in common, most obviously being the huge beating Django is on the receiving end of more than once. We see in flashback his wife was murdered by bandits and he was left for dead which presumably has fuelled his righteous anger, but for a long patch the main villain was off the screen as we watch him bring his machinations to fruition, seeing to it that his gang manoeuvre their way around to claiming Barry's gold, which he wants as well of course.

Hill delivered a performance that suggested he would have been a perfectly fine leading man in the Nero mould, but his fans would be pleased he struck out in his own style, with or without Bud Spencer. If the jokes were absent here, it compensated with a lot of action, not wall to wall but managing a fair go at getting Django into various predicaments that only his wits, his fists and/or his guns will get him out of, though not before he suffers. That didn't make him any the less invincible, naturally - Baldi and Rossetti weren't stupid - but they did thread a theme about revenge not necessarily making the person seeking it able to take the moral high ground, as a lot of characters bite the dust whether they deserved it or not. This was the sort of movie where the dialogue exchanges would go something like: "Whose grave are you digging?" "Yours." Which should give you some idea that no matter how cartoonish it got, it never lost sight of the grit. Gianfranco Reverberi's soundtrack made this best known for the sample for Gnarls Barkley's hit tune Crazy, which can be distracting.

Aka: Preparati la bara!, Viva Django!
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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