God's Gun

Year 1975

Lee Van Cleef   as  Father John / Lewis  
Jack Palance as Sam Clayton
Richard Boone as The Sheriff
Sybil Danning as Jenny
Leif Garrett as Johnny
Director - Gianfranco Parolini
Screenwriters - John Fonseca
  - Gianfranco Parolini

The western God's Gun was one acting performance away from being Under a Rock. When you look at the talent in the movie, you'd expect a good western. Academy Award winner Jack Palance is in the thing. (This must have been when he was calling himself Jack Pah'-lance. He was one of those people who kept chaning how his name was pronounced. Was it Pa-lance' or Pah'-lance? Either way, he was horrible here.)

A gang invades a small western town where everyone is a coward, except for the priest. Using non-violent methods, he arrests one of the gang members. The gang kills him and takes over the town. His brother finds out and exacts vengeance using, what are supposed to be, also non-violent methods. Then, everyone who lives, does so happily ever after.

Lee Van Cleef plays both the priest and his brother. Without Lee Van Cleef, this movie is right down there with The Creeping Terror. It helps that Lee Van Cleef voices his own dialog, unlike Palance and Boone.

A refresher on Italian movies. The movie is filmed without sound. Voices, effects, etc. are added in the studio afterwards. If there's a rumor that you can't pay your actors, guess who won't show up to record their dialog? So, instead of Palance's snarl, we get an insipid imitation. Instead of Boone's gravel, we get a Walter Brennan clone.

But Lee Van Cleef did it all. His character's voice saves the movie from being worse than it is.

How bad is God's Gun? Well, when it's good, it's as good as any Eastwood-Leone collaboration. But when it's bad, it's horrid. Even if you forgive the fake voices, the movie's still bad far too often.

When people die, it's supposed to evoke something other than embarrassment. When women are raped (actually, they're just kissed and groped in appropriate places), it's supposed to raise your ire and not make you wonder if this is a version of "First Date Comics".

And speaking of rape, what's up with all of the raping? I know what the intent is, but really? This is the best that you can come up with? Salaciously making a grab for the lowest rung on the emoto ladder? And are women that weak and men that spineless that no one raises a finger? Oh, the women say, "No, no" but it's not quite convincing. I've heard of ninety year old men defending their wives from attack even though it meant their own deaths. (The last example that I heard of was around 2011 in Sun City. Sun City! A retirement community and not some frontier town like in the movie.)

Palance isn't sure what he's doing. Sometimes he gibbers and japes. Sometimes he intensely threatens. If he's supposed to play psychotic, I suppose it makes sense. If he's supposed to be a psychotic who can function well enough to run a gang, it makes no sense.

Richard Boone is a coward in the movie. He blames Father John for sticking up to the gang. He's like the Sting character in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels. Push comes to shove, he's hiding somewhere.

Then there's Johnny. (Did they run out of names? There's Father John and the boy named Johnny. Where's Jonathan? Or Johnetta for a girl?) Johnny loses his voice after Father John is murdered and he's slapped by a mute. Uh. I didn't see that one coming.

Then there's the whole passive-aggressive revenge. Lewis, Father John's brother, doesn't kill any of the gang but he sets them up to be slaughtered by their peers. I don't see much difference or how one type of getting someone killed makes one less culpable than another.

In the end, Lewis does shoot someone. The kicker? He didn't have to. The man was unarmed. What about THAT moral dilema? The only person Lewis kills personally is the one person who can't defend himself. The movie ignores this. Everyone says, "Whee!" and happily carries on with their lives.

This could have been a good movie. It's got a nice premise. It's perfect for a spaghetti western. It's a bit like High Plains Drifter and with a bit of capable writing (and fewer rapes) might have stood on its own as something worthwhile.

Instead, with it's poor sound effects, worse dubbing, and lunatic acting by Jack Palance, it's a bad B-Movie.

It should be noted that this is a Golan-Globus movie. These two guys made Hammer Films look polished and erudite. Cody Palance, Jack's son, got his first credited actiing role as Zeke Clayton which is an explanation of something...I think. (I thought that Pnina Golan who plays the character of "Chesty" might be related to Manahem Golan, but she's not.)

There's some profanity and blasphemy and one of Sybil Danning's breasts pops out after she is raped. (Too much rape.) Chick flick potential borders on zero. Unless you are a Lee Van Cleef fan, give this one a pass.

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