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  Have A Good Funeral, My Friend... Sartana Will Pay At this rate it's a wonder he isn't broke
Year: 1970
Director: Giuliano Carnimeo
Stars: Gianni Garko, Daniela Giordano, George Wang, Ivano Staccioli, Helga Liné, Luis Induni, Franco Ressel, Franco Pesce, Antonio Vilar, Roberto Dell’Acqua, Federico Boido, Fortunato Arena, Aldo Berti, Jean-Pierre Clarlain, Attilio Dottesio, Rocco Lerro
Genre: Western, Action, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Gunfighters invade a desert shack killing all those inside including an old prospector named Joe Benson. The dead man drops a gold nugget that rolls beside none other than Sartana (Gianni Garko - now sporting a funky porn star moustache), gambler, gunslinger and smooth customer, seemingly arrived in the wrong place at the wrong time. "Better pray for your immortal soul, mister", warns one bad guy. "I'll pray for yours", replies the man in black and promptly shoots them all dead. When Benson's lovely niece Abigail (Daniela Giordano) rides into the tiny town of Indian Creek almost everyone seems eager to buy the land bequeathed to her, especially sinister banker Ronald Hoffman (Antonio Vilar) who is in cahoots with hotel owner Julie (Helga Line) and has the local sheriff (Luis Induni) in his pocket. Sartana offers his assistance to the pretty lady and whilst tangling with legions of hired gunmen, concocts an ingenious scheme to turn a tidy profit.

Have A Good Funeral, My Friend... Sartana Will Pay was the third Sartana movie with Gianni Garko and a noticeable improvement over its predecessors, in spite of shamelessly stealing its plot and key scenes from Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)! Even Bruno Nicolai's fuzz guitar soundtrack has a ring of familiarity about it. Of course originality was never a requirement in Italian popular cinema and the lack of it is no hindrance to the viewers' enjoyment. Typically for a Sartana movie, the story seems mind-boggling on the surface but grows more coherent as things progress and does stand up to repeat viewings. Giovanni Simonelli and Roberto Gianvinti concoct a gimmicky, but smart script rife with amusing incidents and snappy dialogue. An exotic element is added in the form of Confucius-quoting gambling lord Lee Tse Tsung (George Wang - dubbed with chop-suey accent), whose presence leads to an amusing martial arts duel that takes even Sartana by surprise, though they part as friendly rivals.

The direction by series regular Giuliano Carnimeo is occasionally zoom-happy, but on the whole quite stylish. His action sequences are witty and inventive, including Sartana's rollicking chase after a wagonload of gunmen conveniently hidden inside coffins (so they have a place to fall when he shoots them, one by one); the pursuit of Blackie (Ivano Staccioli) up a church tower where the ringing bells drive him mad; and the barnyard battle with the Piggott brothers. Once again, Sartana is followed by a cackling undertaker played by Franco Pesce (and yes, he does pay for those funerals), but he is that rare spaghetti western hero who gets to romance his leading lady. The script provides strong roles for Euro-horror starlets Daniela Giordano - who proves feisty enough to impress the laconic hero - and Helga Line as a rare "bad girl" who opts to repent her wicked ways and lead a quiet life.

Sartana's mystical ability to disappear and reappear out of nowhere is well in evidence as are his trademark gadgets, including his trick-shot derringer, sniper rifle, a silver watch on a chain he wields like a martial arts weapon, and a deck of razor edged ninja playing cards! Smooth villain Hoffman keeps a spring-loaded pistol hidden inside his logbook and at one point, actually shoots the cards out of Sartana's hands, though to no avail. Gianni Garko next returned as Sartana in Light the Fuse... Sartana Is Coming (1971).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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