Film #256: SABATA
4 out of 5 stars
Lee Van Cleef (THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, DEATH RIDES A HORSE) once again proves he’s The Man in this Spaghetti Western from 1969. Directed by Gianfranco Parolini (IF YOU MEET SARTANA, PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH) and costarring William Berger (KEOMA, 5 DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON) and Ignazio Spalla (ANY GUN CAN PLAY, DON’T WAIT, DJANGO…SHOOT!), the film tells the story of a group of businessmen who rob an Army safe of $100,000 in order to buy some land which the railroad is planning to build on. Everything goes as planned until a gunslinger named Sabata comes along. From there, the film is basically the businessmen continually trying – unsuccessfully – to kill Sabata again and again. Genuinely fun and completely delightful, SABATA is one of those films many haven’t heard of… and the ones that have, haven’t seen it. More light-hearted than the Leone films, for example, SABATA showcases Van Cleef as a badass of the highest order. Berger plays the guy with the knowledge of the town. Ignazio Spalla is around to play the type of role made popular by Eli Wallach in THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY or Rod Steiger in DUCK, YOU SUCKER. What sets SABATA apart is its pervasive sense of humor and Van Cleef’s preternatural ability to set up kill zones. The acting is spot-on. The action is both inventive and exciting. Fans of the genre should immediately add this to their list as should anyone who just likes a rollicking good time at the movies.