Prega il morto e ammazza il vivo (1971)

TO KILL A JACKAL
aka Pray to Kill and Return Alive

The first scene in this one is fantastic. A grub brings a rooster to a pistol fight and ends up with a ricochet bullet sound effect in his gut.

Jackal Ranch, where the action next moves, serves as a tight base of existential angst. A closed room, where the waiting and claustrophobia drive the real speeding dangers posed by the law outside, all the more intense and real. Basically, this is a spaghetti western as imagined by the NO EXIT Sartre.

At least for the first half, where bank robbers are stared down by a no-good, suspicion-wielding stranger, then by a stage coach full of snot-nosed women folk and their rich dandy cuckold.

Kinski is raw and brilliant in these telegraph outpost scenes, flailing about with an eyeliner stare and a rag doll anger. His confidence is dangerous, his doubt murderous. Building his whole character’s persona around the handle of a bull whip, which in Kinski’s sweaty hand is transformed into another emotive tool.

But once the gold arrives and the bandits take to the land, all the dark shadows and stifled wickedness is burned off in the shine of the cracked sands of the mesas. Silly and a bit incoherent, the movie turns into a race to justice/revenge which was, at best, tacked on by some nervous money investors.

Still. Kinski makes this worth the price of admission and forgives any faults the film has (including terrible transfer). A triple bill of Il Grande SilenzioDeadlock, and <B>To kill a Jackal would be a triple bill I would pay to see