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Western films, from silent to today

Greatest Robbery in the West (1967)

Walter Barnes plays Key Jarrett and Jack Betts is Padre Santo, partners who stage a bold and ingenious bank robbery in the Middletown.

While some of their men create a distraction by setting a hay wagon on fire, others slip inside to hold up the bank.

Jarrett is already inside, posing as a businessman. Santo is inside too, posing as a padre who begs the bandits not to harm anyone.

Meanwhile, the bandits hide the loot in the statue of a saint the padre has parked next to a bank window.

The bandits ride off in different directions, agreeing to meet and split the loot in the town of Poorlands.

But when one of the bandits kills the sheriff there, his lazy, hard-drinking brother Billy (George Hilton) springs into action, determined to get revenge.

It helps that he’s got an escape route out of jail that he can use anytime he wants.

And he gets some unexpected help from the padre. He’d love to double cross Jarrett and make off with the gold … and with Jarrett’s woman, Mara.

Review:

A light-hearted opening, ending and theme song with a serious plot squeezed in between makes for a somewhat confusing Spaghetti Western that won’t rank among the best from Barnes, Betts or Hilton.

Barnes has a rather evil plan for Poorlands. He intends to burn the town to the ground and kill everyone in it. At one point, he rounds up all the men in town, determined to starve them to death. As for the good women of Poorlands — Katie and Jenny — they’re both threatened with rape.

But Billy — who even refers to himself as “Billy Rum” — is up to the challenge of facing Jarrett and all his gunmen. Afer all, he’s good with a knife, a gun and a stick of dynamite.

Directed by:
Maurizio Lucidi

Cast:
George Hilton … Billy Cooney
Walter Barnes … Key Jarret
Jack Betts … Padre Santo
as Hunt Powers
Sonja Romanoff … Mara
as Sarah Ross
Erika Blanc … Jenny
Katia Christine … Katie O’Brien
Mario Brega … Andreas
Jeff Cameron … Mark
Enzo Fiermonte … Sheriff Cooney
as Glen Fortel

aka:
La piu granda rapina del west
Halleluja for Django
The Greatest Kidnapping in the West

Score: Luis Enriquez Bacalov

Runtime: 95 min.

Memorable lines:

Mara: “You are the worst kind of brother a human being could have.”
Padre Santo: “Amen.”

Billy: “I was pretty sure I noticed the smell of pig as I was walking up the stairs.”
Mark: “That’s because you didn’t wash your head this morning.”

Billy Cooney to Padre Santo, as he talks about gunning down two men: “You know, priests don’t normally come to Billy ‘Rum’ to confess.”

Jarrett: “This stupid idiot over here fell off his horse.”
Sheriff Cooney: “A .45 caliber horse, it appears.”
Jarrett: “You’re smart sheriff. Maybe too smart.”

Trivia:

Another of the many films to try to capitalize on the popularity of “Django.” An alternate title for the movie is “Hallelujah for Django” though no one in the film goes by that name.

Jeff Cameron would later star in some lesser Spaghetti films (like “Bounty Hunter for Trinity”), but he plays a secondary role here as a friend of Billy Cooney. He tries to flee the town of Poorlands, but is caught by Jarrett’s men, drug behind a horse and nearly hung from a church bell.

Before filming, Hunt Powers happened to mention that he was part of a cabaret troupe in New York and sang before his Spaghetti Western days. Next thing you knew, producers presented him with a theme song to sing for this film.

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