Hanging for Django (1969)
Review by Jude Felton
Or, Una Lunga Fila di Croci (A Long Line of Crosses) as it is also known. That is also a far more fitting, not to mention better, name for this movie. However, the Django flicks were big money spinners back in the day, and even though the original Franco Nero movie spawned just the one sequel, it didn’t stop the money men using the name for their films.
For a start, Hanging for Django does not actually feature Django, the character. Yes, it does feature not one but two quick draw bounty hunters, however that does not a Django flick make. That being said, it’s all minor quibbling as this film, directed by Sergio Garrone, is still an entertaining foray into the world of the Spaghetti Western.
Mr. Fargo is a cold, callous son of a gun; he has no problem bringing in illegal immigrants, robbing them of the little cash they have, and then discarding them as trash once he has finished with them. Hey, it’s a good money maker for him, and he uses all manner of outlaws to aid him in his work.
Enter Johnny Brandon (Anthony Steffen) and Everett Murdock (William Berger) as two bounty hunters, albeit bounty hunters with vastly differing motives to each other. They are both drawn to the abundance of outlaws, that Fargo has brought in, but whereas Brandon wants to do the right thing, Murdock is just there for the cash.
As you might expect from a Spaghetti Western, not everything is as straightforward as it first seems, so expect plenty of plot twists and so forth, before we reach the inevitable final gun battle. There has to be one; it is a Western after all.
Hanging for Django has all the familiar trappings of the genre, and whilst it may not be the absolute best example, it is still a highly entertaining movie. You’ll get plenty of lingering close-ups, bodies dropping like flies and improbable escapes from danger. In other words, it’s great fun.
What really elevates this movie though, is the treatment that the ever impressive Raro Video has afforded it. The film has a digitally restored new transfer from the original 35mm negative, and it looks absolutely beautiful. There’s a stunning amount of detail on screen, and it’s one of the best looking examples of this genre that I have seen.
The disc comes with original Italian dialogue (with English subs) or the English dubbed version, and I am sorry to say that I had to watch the dubbed version. Not because I am too lazy to read, I actually enjoy subs, but because I always feel that Spaghetti Westerns are best enjoyed with bad dubbing! Maybe I am alone on that, but that’s how I got into the genre, with the films of Sergio Leone, and I have never changed.
This Blu-ray comes complete with a nifty booklet, which gives a little more depth to your viewing experience, as well as a short documentary entitled Bounty Killer for a Massacre.
Director Sergio Garrone would go on to make such delicacies as SS Experiment Love Camp and SS Camp 5: Women’s Hell, but with Hanging for Django he delivered a rather entertaining Western. He also directed the slightly better known Django the Bastard in the same year as Hanging, for those that want to dig further into the Django flicks out there.
In the meantime, sit back and enjoy this beautifully restored version of an above average movie. Django himself may be AWOL, but fear ye not, as Hanging for Django has a seven-barreled shotgun for you to enjoy! Good film, very good release.
Hanging for Django is released on October 29th by Raro Video.
(The stills contained in this review are used purely to illustrate the review and do not necessarily represent this Blu-ray release)