Any Gun Can Play


Year 1967

Edd Byrnes as  Clayton
George Hilton as The Stranger/Django  
Gilbert Roland as Monetero  
Kareen O'Hara /
(Stefania Careddu)  
as Marisol/Guapa
Gérard Herter as Lawrence Blackman
Adriana Giuffrè as Conchetta
Arnaldo Fabrizio as Samson
 
Director - Enzo G. Castellari
Screenwriters - Tito Carpi
  - Enzo G. Castellari
  - Giovanni Simonelli

Without seeing a single second of this movie, you just know. I mean you just know that it's an Italian film. If the name Any Gun Can Play doesn't smack of a spaghetti western, then you haven't seen enough of them. Or at least their titles. (That's TITLES. If you read something else, check your zoom.)

Other examples of names include A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die, and The Big Gundown. So, yes, Any Gun Can Play fits. It's almost American, but not quite. It's less twisted than, say, something called Cowboy Bebop but only because bebop is too current for a Western.

This movie is also known as Go Kill and Come Back. The title implies a recurring character. I'll get to that in a while.

Where am I going with this? Oh, yeah, now I remember. It's an Eyetalian film. A bunch of Italians are the actors and writers. Even the director is from Eyetaly. It's campy with over the top sound effects and stilted dialog. It's not sure if it wants to be A Fistful of Dollars or My Name is Nobody.

The plot is not exactly simple. There's a train robbery. Gold worth $300,000 is taken from a train by an outlaw band. That's about 45 million in today's dollars. Such a large sum proves to be too tempting to the gang of bandits, and there's a double cross and the gold's hidden somewhere. Enter the bounty hunter, whose name is... His name is... He doesn't have a name. He's just The Stranger and he's torn between collecting the bounty on the gang leader and working with the gang leader so that they can share the gold. The Stranger (Hilton) and the gang leader Monetero (Roland) form an odd partnership filled with their own mix of double crosses.

If those two aren't enough, into the mix add two others. One is a banker name Clayton (Byrnes) who is responsible for the funds and wants them returned so that he can keep his job. The other is an insurance representative named Blackman (Herter) who wants to recover the gold so his company doesn't have to pay the claim. Everyone cuts deals with everyone else and forgets about them later.

Sound like fun? It kind of is.

First a word about The Stranger or Stranger Danger or Django. I guess there was a movie called Django that was a big hit in the 60s. Because of the violence, a lot of countries banned the movie. But that didn't diminish its popularity. And when a movie's popular, it spawns sequels. Even if there's no character named Django in Any Gun Can Play, it's considered a sequel to the orginal Django. Who knew?

Another thing that I didn't know is that there are about 100 movies with either Django or his derivative as the protagonist. Django keeps on keepin' on so I guess that's the whole go-and-come-back thing.

Coming back to this movie, the gang is Mexican despite the Italian actors playing the parts. You know that they're banditos because they have Mexican sounding names like "Huerta" and they say "Vamanos" a lot. Vamanos, which is where the word vamoose comes from, is used liberally and often. Get on a horse with others? "Vamanos!" Leave a room? "Vamanos!" Start walking aimlessly? "Vamanos!" Tell your horse to cross a river? "Vamos!" Hey, they be speakin' Mex-eye-can, pahdnah.

A word to the wise. Don't play a drinking game with this movie based on the word "Vamanos!" You'll be drunk in no time and miss what is really a dumb, entertaining little flick.

This movie asks you to forgive a lot. For instance, there's the train robbing scene. Of course there are U.S. Army troops guarding the train. Some are even riding above the cow-catcher in the front because they like the feel of nature on their face - nature in the form of dust, grit, rocks, bugs, and what have you. But like all army troops guarding a train, these guys are undisciplined and unskilled. Don't they go through some sort of drill about what to do in case of a hold-up? I guess not. So, at just the right time, a train car coupling works loose and then there's lots of shooting, people dying, and bandits making off with the gold.

Then there are the fight scenes. Byrnes ducks his punches before they're thrown, a light tap from a fist sends targets sprawling, furniture is made out of balsa wood, and everyone hits "like a girl." Okay, before anyone gets butt-hurt about the phrase, let me say that some women can hit with their fist. But comparing the form of the macho guys of the Old West in the movie to a bunch of sixth grade girls is the best way to describe how ineffective it looks. Heck their wrists aren't even locked. If they ever hit anyone for real, they'd break their wrist. They'd probably shatter their hands too because of the way their fists are not clenched.

Despite the risks of broken bones, these guys flail about the screen. It's funny in an unintended sort of way.

Gunfights are not much better. The shooters use magic bullets. You know the kind of bullet that stops when it hits a target? They use those kind. As an example, say that I'm drinking from a clay jug and there's someone standing behind the jug. There's also a shooter and all three things, the shooter, the jug, and the idler, are all in a straight line. In real life, a shot from the gun would not only take out the jug but also the guy standing on the other side. In this movie, only the jug succumbs to the piece of lead. Sheer magic, I tell ya!

All through the movie guns have unlimited ammunition. No problem. That is, except for one scene. In this scene, a gun is only supposed to have six shots. There's some sort of magic spell involved, I think. That's because the six gun had unlimited ammo until people started counting the shots. Hocus pocus dominocus.

What do I mean? I mean that someone fired a gun three times and it looked like an unlimited ammo gun. But then someone said, "He only has six shots," or words to that effect. The counting began then and sure enough, the gun only had six more shots left for a final total of nine. If the spell hadn't been cast and the magic words hadn't been spoken, he would've had as many bullets as everyone else.

So, bullets are magical in this movie.

Want to know what else is magical? Wine. Yep. In one scene, Edd Byrnes of "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb" fame is not preening his legendary locks. Instead, he's at a cantina drinking when he hears a noise behind him on the stairs. So, he spills some of his wine on his table. Like the magic mirror in Cinderella, this magic wine not only allows Byrnes to see behind him but also gives him a view up the stairs. That's some shiny magical, fantastical wine he's got there. Goofy and good for a laugh.

The ending is dumb, too. But it's almost like a poor man's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly face-off. I'm sure that it was a deliberate send-up even if there isn't any music playing.

There's no profanity or nudity, one or two instances of blasphemy, and a midget named Samson (Fabrizio). Italian's are seemingly compelled to include at least one midget in a movie. Want proof? How about Fellini Satyricon or Boot Hill. Any Gun Can Play is light fun and isn't bad for a Spaghetti Western.

Samson in the Background Taking Out the Bodies


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