I Giorni dell'ira (Blood and Grit) (Day of Anger) (Gunlaw) (Days of Wrath) Reviews
The plot of "Day of Anger" is rather typical genre fare: an aging gunman taking on a young protégé. The gunman is of course played by Cleef and the young gun is played by Giuliano Gemma, a bastardized outcast until a steely eyed gunman rides in and shows him compassion and respect. Wanting to exact revenge on the town for his treatment, he takes up with the gunman to learn his trade. All goes well until Cleef kills the man who raised him and now the protégé must use his lessons to turn on his teacher.
As one can tell, the plot is what keeps "Day of Anger" from transcending the Leone films before. What makes up for it is the quirky, stylistic and violent Italian twist on the theme. Director Tonino Valerii served as assistant director on "For a Few Dollars More" and didn't waste much time utilizing the knowledge he gained from Leone to pump into his own films. Though his first western "Taste of Killing" was rather average, he nailed it in "Day of Anger" utilizing stylistic camerawork, violent eccentricities and catchy music to make to make this a distinct entry into the genre. My favorite sequence he created, that some may find a bit batty, is a duel with rifles done like a joust on horseback. Only would such an outrageous scene appear in a Spaghetti Western and be so mind-blowing.
Cleef is in top form as the aging gunman but the directors he worked always wisely chose strong, usually younger, actors to act second to him. Here Valerii chose Giuliano Gemma, a charismatic young man on the fast rise to stardom thanks to his roles in strong genre films like "A Pistol for Ringo" and "The Return of Ringo". Gemma compliments Cleef wonderfully playing the abused, clueless protagonist that undergoes a dramatic changes throughout the film with an array of emotions. Gemma would hands down become one of the best stars of the genre and it's surrealistic to see him acting opposite an early genre heavyweight like Van Cleef.
Despite its routine plot, "Day of Anger" still manages to be one of the best films the genre has to offer with it's powerhouse cast, eye-catching directing, pulsing score and violent eccentricities one can only find in Spaghetti Westerns. The film was heavily cut for U.S. release and the best version available is the DVD release from Wild East as they went to extreme lengths to bring America the full uncut version for the first time. This release however is long out-of-print and extremely hard to come by so be prepared to spend a pretty penny to obtain it.
However, as the plot unfolds, it becomes a tale of two mentors and Scott finding revenge but losing his purity. It's seemingly simple, and for the most part it is, but its backed up by some plot twists and Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma's intriguing partnership. It's always great to see Lee Van Cleef on screen, and he's so cool that anything he touches is elevated a bunch. He's in top form here, and his role is pretty much on the same level as his others (he's always at his best), such as Colonel Mortimer and The Bad. Giuliano Gemma is charismatic and great as a young man who's an underdog and a misfit in the town, and his duo with Lee Van Cleef is awesome. Giuliano also previously played as Ringo in the Ringo movies (A Pistol for Ringo, The Return of Ringo), and his acting skills really show here. Seeing two of the best actors in the genre working together was great. Riz Ortolani's score is notable, and the theme song is one of the best songs I've heard in the genre. It's energetic and catchy, and fits perfectly in the movie.
It's also incredibly entertaining, and I was never bored with its many creative sequences, such as its climax, as well as the scene where Lee Van Cleef duels someone on horseback with rifles. It's memorable and entertaining, and feels like a genuine western movie, but at the same time feels distinctive. This movie ranks among the best of the genre, thanks to its powerhouse cast, its catchy score, and its seemingly simple plot that turns more complex, and is just as entertaining as some of the high ranking westerns in the genre. It's a must see spaghetti western, and should be a lot more popular than it currently is.
An interesting comparison can be drawn between Scott and the director Tonino Valerii. Just as Scott is the pupal to an old west master, Valerii was a pupal to spaghetti western master Sergio Leone. Tonino Valerii acted as assistant director on the first two 'dollars' films before taking the helm of his own project. I wonder if this parallel attracted him to the film.
Unlike the film where the student becomes the master, Valerii's directing skill doesn't quite come close to Leone levels. However, it is still a good movie with a great story and probably one of the better Italian westerns.
Grandes Actuaciones y gran musica completan esta ensaladera de tiros perfecta. No mucho mejor que la trilogia del dolar pero eso vendria despues.