China 9, Liberty 37


China 9, Liberty 37

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China 9, Liberty 37 falls halfway between the Hollywood backlot-western school and the Italian "spaghetti" western genre, borrowing the best elements from both. Fabio Testi plays a gunfighter who is saved at the last moment from a hangman's noose. His liberators are a cartel of railroad men who want Testi to kill farmer (and former hired gun) Warren Oates, who has refused all entreaties to sell his land. As part of the scheme, Testi befriends Oates; on his own volition, he sleeps with Oates' wife Jenny Agutter. When the railroad barons insist that Testi go through with his mission, he refuses, and helps the farmer fight off the train moguls' hired thugs. Also known as Gunfire, China 9 Liberty 37 features a cameo by director Monte Hellman's role model, Sam Peckinpah, who plays a creepy Ned Buntline-style novelist. And the significance of the title? It's the location of Warren Oates' spread: Nine miles from the town of China, 37 miles from the town of Liberty.

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Fabio Testi
as Clayton Drumm
Warren Oates
as Matthew Sebanek
Jenny Agutter
as Catherine Sebanek
Sam Peckinpah
as Wilbur Olsen
Franco Interlenghi
as Hank Sebanek
Sydney Lassick
as Sheriff's friend
Luis Prendes
as Williams
Helga Liné
as Cottrell's
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Critic Reviews for China 9, Liberty 37

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Audience Reviews for China 9, Liberty 37

The title may suggest some other genre, but don't be fooled -- this is a spaghetti western. Director Monte Hellman returns to the West (via Spain and Italy) and works with grizzled Warren Oates yet again, crafting a well-photographed tale of guns and a love triangle. The locations are pretty and co-star Jenny Agutter is even prettier, but the story is just too simple to sustain much tension. A handsome, sharp-shooting wanderer is hired to take out Oates, but has second thoughts after befriending him and his wife Agutter (who is abundantly naked throughout the film, thank you very much). Which man will she choose? Alas, sheer intelligibility is a substantial problem -- star Fabio Testi is a mumbler with a heavy Italian accent and, even worse, the overstressed musical score often drowns out the dialogue. A shame. The legendary Sam Peckinpah pops up in one scene, portraying a crafty writer out to wring some folklore out of Testi's life.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

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