Beyond The Law Reviews
(1968) Beyond The Law
I was somewhat involved with the movie for for the most part until the ending which really sucked. Lee Van Cleef as Billy Joe Cudlip he is one of a trio of thieving bandits who succeeded into stealing a small bag of money from a locked stagecoach compartment. The group also includes a pretentious preacher (George Sanders) and an African man (Al Hoosmann). Unsatisfied, the trio want to score a much bigger jackpot except that Billy is starting to build a rapport with a European dude named Ben who's general responsibility was to make sure money would be travelled safely to it's rightful owners. And things really become complicated as soon as Billy accepts a role as deputy of the small town with the only obstacle are another outlaw bandit named Burton (Gordon Mitchell) commanding a gang of outlaws who're also basically seeking for the same thing as the thieving trio which is undeserving amounts of riches.
After seeing many Spaghetti westerns, there seems to be a trend where the general storylines demands spontaneous 'unpredictability' even if it doesn't make any lick of sense, and this is another example of another one of those movies where it doesn't feel the need to make any sense when it ends badly.
2 out of 4 stars
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Antonio Sabato, Lionel Stander, Bud Spenser, and Gordon Mitchell
Director: Georgio Stegani
When master-thief Billy Joe Cudlip (Van Cleef) and his cohorts decide to rob a silver mine of its payroll (and possibly even its silver shipment), a series of events lands Cudlip in the position of town sheriff. As he settles into the job, and starts developing an increasing amount of respect for a young mining engineer (Sabato), his no-nonsense boss (Spenser) and the other honest, upstanding townsfolk, he starts to want more than just life as a thief. But his partners are still bent on committing the heist... and a large gang of murderous bandits led by the psychopathic Burton (Mitchell) have also set their sights on the silver shipment.
"Beyond the Law" in an interesting film in that it features actors in types of roles that we're not use to seeing them in. Lee Van Cleef plays a through-and-through good guy in this film (despite his larcenous tendencies as the story starts), and Bud Spenser doesn't throw a single punch during the entire movie; in fact, he's hard to recognize without his beard and usual scruffy appearance.
Unfortunately, the film features from a script that is focused in all the wrong places--for example, Van Cleef's character makes a transformation from ever-scheming thief to a man who feels loyalty and protectiveness toward the citizens of the mining-town, something which would have made for interesting viewing, but which seems to happen between scenes--and the middle section is padded more heavily than the middle-section of a longhaul trucker who loves beer too much.
At a few points in the film--such as when Van Cleef and his partners make their presence known in the film for the first time, when Burton takes the town's women and children hostage in order to get the silver shipment, and the shoot-out--gives us glimpses of the excellent movie "Beyond the Law" could have been if the script had gone through another draft or two, and if the director had given the film more substance and less filler. As it stands, however, this is a sub-standard spaghetti western that's more boring than entertaining.