The Big Gundown (1966)
The Big Gundown (1966)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
The Big Gundown Photos
as Jonathan 'Colorado' Corbett
as Capt. Segura
as Manuel 'Cuchillo' Sanchez
as Prostitute of Willow Creek City
Critic Reviews for The Big Gundown
It's a wonderful film, rich with style and loaded with surprises, with a fluid storytelling touch that brings substance to a genre that's often concerned solely with appearance.
The U.S. premiere of this surprisingly thoughtful 1960s spaghetti western gives an opportunity to reflect on the genre.
Audience Reviews for The Big Gundown
Sollima's Western is an exciting manhunt that follows the structure of a road-movie, with its two main characters meeting over and over in many different situations. A thrilling movie with a vibrant performance by Tomás Milian and an unexpected twist in the third act.
The plot of "The Big Gundown" is a little thin, centered on a sharpshooting lawman (spaghetti-western stalwart Lee Van Cleef) in pursuit of a Mexican peasant (Tomas Milian) accused of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl. Their passive-aggressive rivalry, bordering on friendship, is the heart of the film. A wealthy man of dubious principle (Walter Barnes) and an icy German marksman (Gerard Herter) are also in the mix, but female characters are in short supply. The incomparable Ennio Morricone supplies the score, though it's mostly variations on a single theme. Otherwise, his most interesting move is a twisted repurposing of Beethoven's "Fur Elise." The Italian version is about 20 minutes longer than the American version. I saw a less-than-optimal edit where the Italian scenes were inserted back into the film, undubbed. (Predictably, most of the cuts fall within the first half-hour or so.) I'd like to see a fully dubbed version someday.
It's nowhere near as good as its reputation as the fourth greatest Spaghetti Western, but it is indeed a really cool movie. The reason it succeeds is mainly due to Italian superstar Tomas Milian, who is incredible as Cuchillo the knife expert. Lee Van Cleef is essentially playing Colonel Mortimer yet again, but that character is amazing so it's not like there's any need to complain. My problem with this particular movie is that it lacks scope, there was so much potential for a truly epic bit of storytelling. I'd say it's definitely worth watching, but expecting something in league with a Leone or Corbucci classic would be a mistake.