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  • ster200124 January 2004
    So many of these Spaghetti westerns were made I wonder how many lost gems there might be that will never be seen again. This one is out of print but there are a few VHS still floating around.

    This one has the benefit of a really tight script and excellent cast. Two old time hollywood veterans Van Heflin and Gilbert Roland. And two spaghetti stars Klaus Kinski and George Hilton. All are on top form but its Heflins movie and he turns in a good performance. Direction is assured and inventive. Exceptionally good shoot out in the middle at the mission. Kinski is also effective as a sunglass wearing killer dressed as a preacher, who may have a homosexual relationship with Hilton. It seems hinted at. Watch and decide for Yourself!
  • I had been looking for a copy of this film for a long time and finally found one. I wasn't disappointed as it is a well-written and directed film.

    Van Heflin stars as a down and out prospector who finally strikes it rich. After surviving a double-cross attempt by a partner, he decides to look up an old friend to help him retrieve the remainder of his fortune. Through various situations the group expands to four - Heflin, George Hilton (his old friend), Klaus Kinski (who has a strange hold over Hilton) and Gilbert Roland (hired by Heflin as insurance against future double crosses), and the four then begin the trek to retrieve the gold. What happens along the way will hold your interest as there are some unusual plot twists.

    As for the performances, Heflin and Kinski are remarkable. Heflin looks like he sat in the hot desert sun for weeks to prepare for this role, and his craggy voice and features are perfectly suited for his character. As for Kinski, dressed mostly in black, he is evil incarnate, with his cold stare, flashing eyes and creepy voice. Roland is also excellent, as an old army buddy of Heflin's who suffers from malaria. Hilton is good, too, although his performance pales in comparison to the others.

    The direction is some areas is inventive, with good use of scenery, and the music score is impressively spare with only acoustic guitars for much of it.

    If you enjoy realistic Westerns that don't romanticize the Old West, this comes highly recommended.
  • Sam Cooper, (Van Heflin) was a gold prospector all his life and he finally found a good gold mine and one of his partners decided to kill him in order to keep it all for himself. However, Sam Cooper manages to blow up the mine and bury his partner instead, meaning that Sam Cooper had to hide the gold because it was too heavy to carry back by horseback through a desert area. Sam Cooper gets back in town and gathers up a group of guys, some he did not care to tag along. One guy was Mason, (Gilbert Roland) who knew Sam Cooper in past years and Sam figured he could trust him. There is one gal who appears in the town named Anna, (Sarah Ross) who is a sexy bar girl who gives Sam and eye full of her female charm. Brent the Blonde, (Klaus Kinski) is dressed up like a preacher but is a human rattlesnake who will give you one look and blow you away the next second. This film is very much like the Humphrey Bogart film, "Treasure of Sierra Madre", but this film is full of cruel evil men lusting for gold and gold only.
  • Fair prospector named Sam Cooper (good lead from Van Heflin) in search of gold in West find treachery , suspicion and greed . Sam is a man who has struck a rich vain of gold. The problem is one man can't get enough out and back, he needs a partner. Circumstances conspire to land him with three. Sam calls his pupil who he raised as his son called Manolo Sanchez (George Hilton) who is accompanied by a rare person , a forth partner named Brent the Blonde (played by Werner Herzog's Best Fiend Klaus Kinski) . Old prospector Sam Cooper meet up with a grizzled gunslinger named Mason (Gilbert Roland), a man who holds a grudge against Sam believing he double crossed him some years earlier and decides to join with them in search of gold in the desert . They form a quartet of unlikely mining pals ; both of whom match wills and wits and fight outlaws , elements and ambition among them . Through enormous difficulties, they eventually succeed in finding gold, but also bandits , elements, and most especially greed threaten to turn their success into disaster . As they struggle among themselves to unearth a fortune in gold from a remote Southwestern mine without falling prey to each other's bullets.

    Entertaining Spaghetti Western with shootouts , action ,violence and amusement . The story is similar to previous classic ¨The treasure of the Sierra Madre¨ but realized in Spaghetti style . The film contains action-Western , gun-play , fist-play and is pretty bemusing . Giorgio Capitani's spaghetti western, probably won't be making too many top ten lists, but its an agreeable flick . It's an exciting western that scrutinizes the greed and paranoia that afflicts a misfit group , including breathtaking showdown between protagonists and the enemies that stalk to them . The film blends violence , thrills , high body-count and it's fast moving and exciting . There is plenty of action in the movie , guaranteeing shootouts or stunts every few minutes , including a spectacular final confrontation . Although by many to be director Giorgio Capitani's finest film , this is a tale of fear , greed and murder , as four partners fall out over the gold they have clawed out of the inhospitable and bandit-ridden deserts and mountains . It also has probably the most brutal bar fight ever put on film along with Treasure of the Sierra Madre by John Huston . Overrated by some reviewers , but till interesting to watch . It above all things mostly also remains a real characters movie, in which the four main roles are the essentials. Their dynamic together is also great and is what mostly keeps this movie going. They are three totally different characters, which is the foremost reason why they work out so great together on film. Van Heflin is superbly believable and gives a nice portrait of an increasingly unhinged prospector , Gilbert Roland is very good as a cunning gunfighter and the strange couple formed by George Hilton and Klaus Kinski are pretty well . The musician Carlo Rustichelli composes a vibrant soundtrack and well conducted by Bruno Nicolai ; including a catching leitmotif and considered to be one of the best . Atmospheric scenario with barren outdoors , dirty landscapes under sunny exteriors and a glimmer sun and fine sets with striking cinematography by Sergio D'Offizi . The picture resulted to be shot entirely on location in Almeria , Spain , where in the 60s and 70s had been shot innumerable Ravioli/Paella Westerns .

    The motion picture was well directed by Giorgio Capitani . Giorgio is an expert on all of type of genres such as comedy : ¨Lobster for breakfast¨ (1982) , ¨I hate blondes¨ (1983) , ¨Sex Pot¨ (1975) , Musclemen tales : ¨Samson and his mighty challenge¨ or Western like this ¨Sam Cooper's gold¨ also titled ¨Each man for himself¨, Every man for himself¨ or ¨Each one for himself¨ . Rating : above average Spaghetti , superior Western that will appeal to aficionados .
  • This is a very good western with an excellent story and a great cast.

    Klaus Kinski, George Hilton, Gilbert Roland, and Van Heflin are all superb, as one would expect, in this film. Kinski is perfect for the part of "The Blond," a bizarre sadistic character who dresses like a preacher because he likes to- not because he's trying to pose as one. Nobody else in the film seems to think this is odd, although Hilton's character snickers a little when an old woman calls Kinski "Father." Odd characters like this are a big part of what makes Italian westerns so entertaining to me. It sure as hell ain't a John Wayne flick, and that's a good thing.

    The score is OK, although it could have been better. It's good in a few parts when it sounds like it belongs in a spaghetti western, but too much of it sounds more Hollywood than Rome.

    The plot is excellent, and keeps you engaged until the very end. It's not an epic, but it is a tight little story with all the grittiness and violence one expects from a Eurowestern made in the 1960's.

    I recommend this one to all Eurowestern fans if you can find it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although it doesn't rival director John Huston's legendary classic "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" (1948) with Humphrey Bogart, "The Ruthless Four" qualifies as a taunt, entertaining little Spaghetti western that ranks several Stetsons above its European competitors. Roughly speaking, for the sake of simplicity, Spaghetti westerns can be classified in three groups: the traditional Sergio Leone epics with bounty hunters galore in the arid Southwest, such as "For A Few Dollars More" (1965), while the non-traditional Spaghetti westerns varies the settings or protagonists, principally Sergio Corbucci's "The Big Silence" (1968) where the action occurred closer to the Canadian border than the dusty Mexican border as was the Leone custom. Corbucci's off-beat westerns steer clear of traditional elements, preferring to rearrange them, as exemplified in Corbucci's "Django" (1966) where the hero dragged around a coffin with a Gatling gun style machine gun in it. Mind you, Corbucci made westerns that accommodated all three groups, but his different westerns emerge with greater prominence. "Navajo Joe" (1966) with Burt Reynolds as the Native American protagonist qualified as another example of an out of the ordinary Corbucci oater. Similarly, director Lucio Fulci's "Four Gunmen of the Apocalypse" (1975) is another example of this different breed of European western. The third group is Corbucci inspired, too: the Mexican revolution westerns. Leone rode around this sub-genre until he helmed "Duck You Sucker" in 1973. These westerns usually featured a mercenary as the protagonist, such as Franco Nero in "The Mercenary" (1968) and "Companeros" (1970) who sold his services to the highest bidder during the war between the corrupt Mexican government and the poor peons at the dawn of the 20th century. Typically, however, he reformed by the finale to take sides with the peons. Marxist theorists would crave these yarns for their political ramifications. Admittedly, this analysis reduces the entire Spaghetti western genre to a single bullet in the cylinder of a Colt's .45 revolver.

    "The Ruthless Four" fits into the second group of Spaghetti westerns in terms of its protagonists. Sam Cooper (Van Heflin of "Shane") excels as a crusty old prospector who strikes pay dirt with his partner at a remote mine carved out of a slope in the middle of nowhere. Cooper's partner double-crosses him and tries to kill him, but Cooper outsmarts his adversary and kills him in a mine explosion. Cooper barely survives the journey of hardship back to town. Along the way, human carrion steals his pack horses at gunpoint and leaves him stranded at a river with his goods strewn around him. Cooper gathers what little that he can carry, then does something that no other character has ever done before in any Spaghetti--much less an American--western; he pours out the gold that he cannot tote into the river! Sam Cooper has a moral compass that doesn't deviate from the right setting, and this explains his longevity. Once he reaches town, Cooper decides to wire a $100 dollars to a kid that he helped raise before he turned to prospecting. He realizes that he cannot trust a partner after his last experience, so he beckons for Manolo Sanchez (George Hilton of "Sartana's Coming, Get Your Coffins Ready") to join him. Unfortunately, Cooper doesn't realize that Manolo has grown into a man who is drastically different from the boy that Cooper raised. First, Manolo is a liar, a cardsharp, and cheat; second, Manolo is in cahoots with an enigmatic but evil hombre named 'Brent the Blond' (Klaus Kinski of "And God Said to Cain") who dresses like a preacher, drinks milk in the saloon, and proves as deadly as a rattlesnake. Later, after they reach the mine and we actually see them excavating rocks, Brent looks like death personified with a pick-ax instead of a scythe. He wears a cloak and the dust from their exertions covers his striking features so that he resembles the Grim Reaper. Manolo's inclusion of Brent surprises Cooper so much that he convinces a man with a grudge against him, Mason (the incomparable Gilbert Roland of "Any Gun Can Play") to come along with them as he tells the others "because four men can dig more gold than three." Earlier, Manolo had used this idea to justify Brent accompanying them. This uneasy quartet spends the rest of the movie keeping their suspicious eyeballs on each other. Mason blames Cooper for his incarnation in a Florida prison and his subsequent contraction of malaria.

    Director Giorgio Capitani stages a first-class gunfight at the ruins of a monastery as our heroes head off into the desert for the mine. The elaborate pretense that Mason and Brent engage in prior to the shoot-out is clever. They want to have their guns in hand without the villains noticing that they have drawn them. Inconspicuously, our protagonists rely on sleight of hand to remove each other's pistol without attracting attention. This way Mason and Brent can start blazing away a lot sooner at their ambushers. The unusual relationships that exist between the protagonists generate considerable tension throughout this 96-minute melodrama. The characters are more complex than in the usual Spaghetti. The Augusto ("Grand Slam") Caminito and Fernando Di Leo ("Mr. Scarface") screenplay makes the subtle implication that Manolo and Brent are homosexuals.

    'The Ruthless Four" differs from most Spaghetti westerns. First, the hero is not a bounty hunter. Second, the protagonist is the oldest of the quartet and he doesn't wield a six-gun like a wizard. Composer Carlo Rustichelli, who scored two Terrence Hill westerns—"Ace High" and "Boot Hill"—doesn't provide an operatic Ennio Morricone orchestral soundtrack. Fourth, "The Ruthless Four" is a realistic morality play; the good are rewarded for their virtue while the evil are punished with death for their perfidy. Meanwhile, this western shares some traits with the Leone western. Nobody is to be trusted. Greed is the central theme with paranoia rampant in the relationship among the quartet. Nobody gets out of this gritty oater without catching a bullet.
  • This is another good Spaghetti Western, one that even got a laudable appraisal in the "Leonard Maltin Film Guide"…not to mention the seal of approval of our own Michael Elliott! Actually, it's a character-driven piece – with the action spread neatly throughout yet proficiently executed. Besides, it's exceedingly well cast: ageing American star Van Heflin is excellent in one of his last roles; both Gilbert Roland (himself a Hollywood veteran) and especially George Hilton did their fair share of Spaghettis, but it's safe to assume that they were never better than here; Klaus Kinski, then, has a typically enigmatic role for which he sports numerous eccentric 'costumes' (from preacher's garb to shades to a raincoat over his head and even a makeshift turban!).

    Unfortunately, as had been the case with THE SPECIALIST (1969), the copy I acquired (English-dubbed this time around) lapsed occasionally into a different language without the benefit of subtitles – but, whereas I could more or less make out what was being said in French with respect to the Sergio Corbucci film, here it's in German (even the print bears the title DAS GOLD VON SAM COOPER)! In any case, the narrative – bringing an old-fashioned situation up-to-date, stylistically speaking – deals with Heflin's striking gold and his attempt to find suitable partners (his previous one had already tried to double-cross him!) that would help him extract the precious element: what he ends up with is an interesting bunch – Hilton, the miner's former protégé (who's not as clean-cut as Heflin seems to think); the young man's domineering companion, Kinski (who's actually quite subdued here); and Roland, another old-timer (who, bearing Heflin a personal grudge, will no doubt look out for him from being 'jumped' by the others[!] – though he's ultimately revealed to have appointed a cowboy duo to shadow the 'expedition' before they think, erroneously, of cutting in on the deal). Carlo Rustichelli's score is, again, more traditional than most genre efforts but robust nonetheless; that said, it breaks into a semi-lounge piece more suited to a German "Krimi" during the scene in which Kinski drops some gear while ascending a mountain and has to be tied in order to go back down and retrieve it (given that this is one of the scenes presented exclusively in German, could it be that the music was changed in that country?)!

    The film was co-scripted by Fernando Di Leo (a Spaghetti Western regular during this time but who never actually contributed to the genre after graduating to director!) and Augusto Caminito (who, as a film-maker in his own right, would make a couple of pictures with Kinski towards the end of the actor's life – including the little-seen GRANDI CACCIATORI [1988], which I have in my "To Watch" pile of obscure "Euro-Cult" titles recorded off Italian TV!). Curiously enough, co-producer Luciano Ercoli would also subsequently get to be a director – proving a notable exponent of the Giallo form.
  • Weather-tattered but hearty and belligerent gold-digger Sam Cooper hits the motherlode after twenty tired years of pickaxing the hills only to find his gold-digging partner gunning for his ass. Having taken care of his treacherous partner by means of exploding his own gold-mine, he returns to town through the desert, parched and terrible-looking, with plans of getting back to the goldmine and mining the gold with a partner he can trust, a hard enough prospect in a town full of greedy, backstabbing sons of bitches. For that purpose he sends word for a child he once took care of back in Denver, who arrives promptly in the slick and suave shape of George Hilton. Along the way and before they have even left town, two become four (the titular ruthless), and none has any more trust for the other three than he has for his own self getting out of this alive.

    Thus begins a tale of greed and betrayal not unlike John Huston's gold-digging landmark TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, the impeccable characterization somewhat toned down in favor of gunfighting. Director George Holloway doesn't miss the occasional false note, such as the terribly ill-conceived oriental 'epic music' that accompanies the gaunt and exhausted quartette as they travel back from the goldmine through the deathly desert, music that would have been at home in a sword and sandal epic or a religious movie but not a gritty western; these guys aren't Moses crossing the Red Sea. For the most part however he retains a constant level of intensity and intrigue, the four protagonists characterized in broad strokes yet enough for them to have something to play on.

    Giallo casanova George Hilton is the weak link in the cast, his overacting bound to elicit a smile or two, but Klaus Kinski fans will be pleased to know the eccentric German and his half-mad stare have plenty of screen time. Unlike the myriad walk-through cameos he's done in other spaghetti westerns, he's one of the main guys here – always a sneaky villain of course, here as the Blonde, a cut-throat, milk-drinking thug dressing like a reverend. The German print I saw was called The Gold of Sam Cooper and was not terribly pristine but overall this one's a must-see for spaghetti western fans.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you're a Western movie genre fan, you've probably caught the classics "Shane" and "3:10 to Yuma", with Van Heflin in prominent supporting roles. The surprise in "The Ruthless Four" is that Heflin leaves both of those prior characterizations firmly in the dust with a strong lead role as Sam Cooper, a grizzled gold prospector who's saddled with a trio of partners when his plans called for only one man he could trust. Coming near the end of his career, Heflin pulls out all the stops to give a noteworthy performance, and I'd be hard pressed to come up with another that was any better than this.

    Rounding out the 'ruthless' quartet finds George Hilton portraying Cooper's adopted son Manolo, Klaus Kinski as Manolo's enigmatic former companion, and Gilbert Roland's Mason, hired on by Cooper to keep the others honest while he's trying to cover his own back. The homosexual subtext between Manolo and Brent the Blonde (Kinski) is the subject of a couple of quick teases in the story, and is never fully developed. However there's not much more explanation for Brent's intrusion into the expedition, which gives Cooper some pause as to Manolo's reliability. It's also not immediately apparent that Mason (Roland) will prove honorable by the time the film winds down, so that gives the picture another hook to keep the viewer interested. On top of all that, you've got a pair of brother bad guys hovering around on the fringe of the action hoping to cash in by the time the picture's over.

    However it all could have gone down hill with a puzzling opening scene when Sam Cooper's original partner in the gold dig turns on him with the idea of taking it all for himself. Those kinds of scenes always bothered me when I was growing up - here was a gun man who had the drop on his partner with the intention of killing him, and then he doesn't kill him. I mean, why leave anything to chance when you can win the whole ball of wax right there. But instead, in an attempt to what, be fair?, the guy challenges his foe to draw down. When anything can happen, and it usually does, the villain loses, and it serves him right for being such an idiot.

    And how about when Cooper was waylaid by the bandits who stole his horses but left the gold sacks? What movie were they watching? Come to think of it, how did one of the bandits get behind Cooper to knock him out with a rock? Cooper had his back to the river and it wasn't like he couldn't keep an eye on all of his attackers. Just a very clumsy scene that didn't make very much sense to me.

    But get beyond those couple of examples, and the rest of the story is pretty intriguing, with some interesting twists and turns that move the picture to a climactic showdown. This had to be the only time I ever saw a cowboy on horseback use an umbrella in the rain (Manolo), and Kinski ordering up a glass of milk in the saloon was definitely an oddity. The only sure thing, if you can call it that, would be that Van Heflin would come out pretty much as he went in, as last man standing. How each of his partners fared, well, that's for you to find out, as this wasn't called "The Ruthless Four" for nothing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sam Cooper (Van Heflin) is a gold prospector who discovers a mine filled with gold, but his partner tries to kill him, but before he does Sam gets him. Riding back to town his robbed of his horses, but not his gold. Too heavy to carry all of it, he dumps some in the river and hides the rest. When he arrives in town he sends a message for his adopted (possibly homosexual) son Manolo Sanchez (George Hilton) to see if he wants to be his partner and go back up to the mind. After Manolo arrives in town so does the mysterious Brent (Klaus Kinski) who gets in with the deal because of Manolo. Not trusting what has happen Sam asks Mason (Gilbert Rolanda) long time army buddy, who now has a grudge against him to tag along so his not back-stabbed and he agrees only if he gets 50% of his share. So now the conniving begins when the four head out for this mine.

    "The Ruthless Four" is one of many spaghetti westerns that flooded the mid to late 60's, but something about this Italian/German production that stood out from the rest for me. It's not I think it's brilliant, but actually the simple story which at times felt like it came across more out of something of Hollywood is a curious piece. Its hard to put my finger on it, sure it didn't entirely blow me away, but this a sturdy spaghetti western is done with buckets of chic and grit. Though, I warn you if your looking for a abundance of wild and over-the-top violence, you'll surely be disappointed as they only come in small doses. But when they do occur that's when the flair kicked in, with well mounted shootouts and showdowns, even if they do lack some sort of sting (well, except for a certain bloody showdown between Brent and Sam). But like I typed earlier these are far and in between plenty of sequences involving a lot chat, confrontations, accusations and scheming. That's basically what happens in the first half of the film, but when the four head out to the mine that's when things "kinda" get going with a change of pace in the plot. It's more about the effects of paranoia and greed with these shifty man trying to knock each other off, or teaming up to get this gold no matter what. There's always something going on to keep you glued.

    What makes up for the slow going nature is the encroaching camera shots that seem to have a mind of its own! It rather was dynamic, especially amongst the upbeat moments. And also Klaus Kinski performance, his venomous persona soared above the rest and added a lot to proceedings. His sly character didn't say too much, but the his appearance and blistering stare were just unsettling. In my eyes he also makes a grand first appearance on screen. Just like in most spaghetti westerns the camera work is prominent, but so is the score and landscape. Here is no exception, but the score that flooded the film was rather bloated and bombarded some scenes without grace. But not enough to really tick me off. Now the location, well the harsh rocky terrain where most of the film took place truly helped portray the rough and cruelty of the ever changing face of the west.

    The well rounded characters and story builds on a remarkably persuasive script, it wasn't particularly hammy like I thought it might be. Sure there were some things left up in the air, but it didn't damage the story at all. It was more up to you to decide on certain things that were hinted. While the other three performances from Gilbert Roland, Van Heflin and George Hilton were nothing but terrific.

    Solid spaghetti western caper. It's something a bit different, but I would definitely recommended it, if only for Kinski's performance. Give it a chance, you might be surprised?
  • After killing his treacherous partner and having his horses stolen, Van Heflin contacts his adoptive son George Hilton, asking him to come to the desert and help mine a rich gold-strike.

    However, things are complicated when Heflin realizes that Hilton's sinister partner (Klaus Kinski, dressed like a priest!) has followed him from Denver and is inserting himself in the mix, forcing Heflin to enlist the help of old "pal" (and former Cisco Kid) Gilbert Roland as a way of protecting his interests. The result of this uneasy alliance provides mucho suspense and excitement.

    Speaking of Hilton and Kinski's partnership, there's definitely something weird going on between these two that I can't quite put my finger on. (gay?) Even after demonstrating what a detestable person he is, Kinski still seems to have a very strange hold on him!

    One particularly enjoyable scene occurs at the burned down mission where a tense Roland (who's great in this) does a short flamenco dance, anticipating a heated gun battle.

    I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during the making of this movie to witness the interaction between the raving madman Klaus Kinski and old Hollywood guys Heflin and Roland!
  • Ruthless Four, The (1968)

    *** (out of 4)

    Spaghetti Western take on The Treasure of the Sierra Madre has Van Heffin playing an elderly gold digger who finally hits it big but is betrayed by his partner who he has to kill. After being robbed by some bandits, Heffin must leave his gold behind and head back to the city where he asks his stepson (George Hilton) to go back and get the gold with him. The stepson agrees to go but is forced into taking an ex partner (Klaus Kinski) and even Heffen is forced to bring along a man (Gilbert Roland) and soon all four are looking over their shoulders. This is far from a great film but it has a terrific cast and a very good story, which makes this a worthy addition to the good titles that this genre has given us. The music score really hurts the film as it sounds out of place but outside of this everything else works just fine. What works the best are the terrific performances with Heffen leading the way. Just take a look at the early scene when his character is dragging himself out of the desert and nearing death from lack of water. I'm not sure what Heffen did to "look" the part but it's rather amazing to watch him. Kinski, playing that mysterious silent man, is terrific as well and makes for a great villain. Roland also delivers a fine performance as the calmer bandit and Hilton is good, although can't really touch the other three men. There are a couple classic shoot outs in the film with an excellent one coming half way through the film. The direction is also nice throughout and there's some wonderful scenery as well.
  • It's Brokeback Mountain - The Western!

    Four strong leads all out for the same gold make this a Western worth tracking down. George Hilton has basically confirmed in an interview that he and Kinski are supposed to be gay lovers in this film too, which lends a unique angle to the film.

    Van Helfin plays Sam Cooper, a gold prospector who, after searching for decades, finally finds gold out in the middle of nowhere and is immediately double-crossed by his partner. One dead partner and a blasted mine entrance later, Cooper heads across the endless landscape and finally makes it back into town, where he sends for surrogate son and ex-partner Georgel Hilton.

    Hilton worked with Cooper for years but gave up the search to go off and do something else. Cooper reckons that Hilton is the only guy he can trust, and while having a sauna together (more homoeroticism here as they spot two semi-naked blonde gunslingers), Cooper bumps into another ex-partner, Gilbert Roland, who has a major chip on his shoulder with regards to Cooper.

    Stranger still is the blonde, milk drinking preacher who has started hanging around the place, staring at Hilton. It turns out that Hilton and Kinski have some sort of relationship but judging by the body language it's an intimate one, and not a fair balanced one as Hilton seems to be Kinski's 'b*tch'. Cooper isn't too happy to have this weirdo come along with him, but Hilton tells him a third pair of hands is better than two. Cooper then hires Gilbert to watch his back, saying that four pairs of hands are better than three. I'm detecting some trust issues here...

    While basically a film where four guy stare at each other mistrustingly, the film is fascinating due to the actors involved. Van Heflin literally looks like someone's hung him to dry in the sun for several months, while Gilbert Roland alternates between being immaculately turned out to shivering with Malaria tremors, and gives us a little dance right before a gunfight that wouldn't be out of place in a Tarantino film! Kinski keeps himself restrained and that's what gives his character so much menace. He uses those crazy guy to glare at everyone without expression, but you know there's murderous thoughts going on in there. His understated, hinted relationship with Hilton just adds another layer to this outstanding film.

    Nice cinematography too. I hadn't heard of this one until last week. How many other gems are out there?
  • Though I love spaghetti westerns enough that I can often tolerate seeing the same plots and characters over and over, I do like it when I come across one that is quite different - which "The Ruthless Four" is. One surprise is that in some aspects it seems to be trying to be more American than European, such as the musical score and the fact that there's a lot less action and more character development than many other spaghetti westerns. It's also a lot more leisurely paced, often taking its time when even an American western would have sooner gone to serious business. But the movie is never dull even during the slower moments. It gets you wondering just how it's going to end up, and that leads to a lot of tension and suspense. You can also feel the agony the characters go through at various points in the movie. While you shouldn't watch this spaghetti western if you are in the mood for action, it is a fine choice when you are in the mood for something quite different.
  • RELEASED IN 1969 and directed by Giorgio Capitani (aka Holloway), "The Ruthless Four" is an Italian-German Western about an old prospector (Van Heflin) who discovers gold in the Nevada desert and only trusts his quasi-stepson (George Hilton) to apprehend it. Unfortunately for them, the latter is indebted to a shady man (Klaus Kinski) while the former is forced to enlist a bitter ex-comrade (Gilbert Roland).

    My title blurb pretty much says it all. The acting is good and Sarah Ross is a highlight in a too-small role as a saloon babe, plus there are a couple of good elongated gunfights (in the middle and at the end). But the story is too one-note to be compelling, not to mention it's predictable. The average Jimmy Stewart Western of the 50s, like "Bend of the River" and "The Far Country," has more happening in 25 minutes than this film does in its entire runtime. Still, the music's good and there's some worthy Western cinematography.

    The movie runs 106 minutes and was shot in Almeria, Andalusia, Spain. WRITERS: Fernando Di Leo & Augusto Caminito.

    GRADE: C
  • Like so many Van Heflin and Gilbert Roland hit the trail for Europe in search of roles in the 60s. This was a German made western so rather than call it a spaghetti western, maybe a weinerschnitzel western would be more appropriate.

    Of course I have a prejudice toward any other country attempting the great American art form, but The Ruthless Four is not too bad for the genre. It concerns Van Heflin who already killed one partner trying to do him out of his half. But as he explains it's not the finding, it's the digging and the transportation if you make a big strike that you have to have help and maybe cut them in. But who can you trust when gold is involved?

    The trouble is that Heflin, Roland, and George Hilton and Klaus Kinski the young guns who they get all don't trust each other. Not even Heflin and Roland who have history, both good and bad.

    This was all done before in better American films like The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and Lust For Gold. Still this one isn't too bad and Heflin and Roland are always worthwhile.
  • Four men embark on a mission to unearth a fortune in gold from a mine.

    The film is directed by Giorgio Capitani, who you have probably never heard of unless you're into obscure Italian films. It was produced by Luciano Ercoli who is a bit better known. And written by Fernando DiLeo (Slaughter Hotel), who is probably the best-known of the three. Really, the only reason to watch this is for Klaus Kinski, and even there it falls short because the dubbing just makes him sound silly.

    The copy I saw (on a double-disc with "Border Shootout") was pretty rough. If a negative could be found, I could see the film getting a nice polish and being a better western under all the dust. Sadly, if it was recorded the way many Italian films were, there is no original audio, so the way it is now is probably the way it always will be.