Film Review: Cemetery Without Crosses (1969)

Also known as: Cimitero senza croci (Italy), Une corde… un Colt… (France)
Release Date: 1969 (France)
Directed by: Robert Hossein
Written by: Robert Hossein, Claude DeSailly, Dario Argento (Italian version)
Music by: Andre Hossein
Cast: Michele Mercier, Robert Hossein, Lee Burton, Daniel Vargas, Michel Lemoine, Anne-Marie Balin

Loisirs Du Monde, Copernicus Films, Fono Roma, Les Films Fernand Rivers, Euro International Film, 90 Minutes

Review:

Cemetery Without Crosses is a pretty obscure spaghetti western that has been lost in time and because it is part of a genre that has been dominated by the Three Sergios (Leone, Corbucci and Sollima), as well as other better known directors: Duccio Tessari, Giuseppe Colizzi, Enzo G. Castellari, Tonino Valerii, Gianfranco Parolini, Fernandino Baldi, Giulio Petroni, Lucio Fulci and others.

Cemetery is directed by one of its stars, Robert Hossein. He worked together with spaghetti maestro Sergio Leone when he had a small role in the masterpiece Once Upon A Time In the West. He learned a lot from the maestro in his short time, watching him work. In fact, he dedicated this film to Leone.

This picture is actually a great representation of the upper echelon of spaghetti westerns. While not quite as good as Leone’s epics, it still displays amazing cinematic prowess for a director that didn’t have the experience of his idol.

Hossein did a fantastic job of framing his shots, using lighting to enhance the narrative in creative ways and he had a real sense of how to effectively create depth of field. For an example of the latter, look at the scene where Manuel (Hossein) and Diana (Balin) walk back to the ghost town in the distance.

The story of the film is interesting and not a rehash of dozens of other spaghetti westerns, as many of these films can blend together due to their narrative similarities. There is a battle between two gangs, one of the men is killed, the cut of his money is given to his widow. The widow, wanting revenge, uses the money to hire her ex-lover, Manuel. The widow and Manuel plot to kidnap the daughter of the opposing gang in an effort for the widow to have her husband properly buried in a legit cemetery. The story has a lot of twists and turns and it can get complicated if you’re not paying attention but it is well constructed even if it has a lot of parts and may have been overly ambitious, especially for just a running time of ninety minutes.

Cemetery Without Crosses is a well made western with solid gravitas. It is also great in that the women in this movie have brass balls and may even be tougher than the men. Who says we’ve never had strong women in movies until Wonder Women?

I actually love this film and it is one of the best in the genre, even though it isn’t as recognized as it should be.

Also, the music is phenomenal.

 

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