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  • Circa 1900 , a British colonial policeman Lt. King Edwards (Ty Hardin) in Africa is assigned by his superior officer , Captain Walter Phillips (George Sanders) to pursue a band of escaped killers (Julio Peña , Jorge Rigaud and Allan Collins or Luciano Pigozzi , nicknamed the Italian Peter Lorre) through the lush jungle and to rescue gold-miner's widow (Helga Liné) from the nasty convicts . He chases the murderers across territory so wild , it lies just "one step to hell" . Along the way he is captured by slave traffickers , and besieged by attackers and gunslingers .

    Gorgeous African scenery helps save an otherwise average movie . This exciting African adventure contains a story full of pursuits , action , thrills , violent fights , mediocre dramatic pace and ordinary direction . Passable but so-so adventure , a thrilling flick with beautiful outdoors and breathtaking confrontation among the tough protagonist , Ty Hardin , against heinous murderers and other underlings . Well-staged action sequences with rousing crossfire and spectacularly bloody fights and brawls . Here appears usual stock-shots , including customary African animals : Hippo, Rhinoceros , Zebras , Cheetah , giraffe , gnu , Crocs . Charismatic performance for the whole casting . Ty Hardin is acceptable in his usual two-fisted role , killing relentlessly enemies and showing his breast and slimness when he baths and swims in a lake surrounded by crocodiles . Ty Hardin may be a name best remembered by Spaghetti Western aficionados, but in his day, from the mid-'60s to the early '70s, Hardin was one of the most popular actors of the television . Ty began working in films as a secondary . From there, he began acting in TV shows , later moving onto the Western genre , where he found his niche . Unlike fellow Spaghetti star Clint Eastwood, however , Hardin never became a top international box-office attraction . Ty then moved west to California and won some minor roles in B movies . Soon, Ty had his own show, ¨Bronco¨ (1958), which ran from 1958 to 1962 . From here, he moved into a brief flurry of film activity : Merrill's marauders (1962) , PT 109 (1963) , Wall of Noise (1963), and Battle of the Bugle (1965) . After this, Ty's career drifted off into a series of forgettable movies made in Europe and , later, he worked in Prescott, Arizona , as an evangelistic preacher . Though often dismissed as just a hunk of "beefcake" and full of juvenile slenderness ; however , he had a decent career . Support cast is frankly good , though really wasted , while George Sanders , Pier Angeli and Rossano Brazzi have not much more than walk-on characters , leaving the Spaniard secondary actors to play most of the donkey work , such as : Julio Peña , Jorge Rigaud , Miguel Del Castillo , Fernando Villena ,and Antonio Mayans , Jesús Franco's regular . Besides , appearing some Italian support players in brief performances , such as Aldo Bufi Landi , Luciano Pigozzi , Dale Cummings and Pamela Tudor .

    In addition , it packs a colorful as well as evocative cinematography by Julio Ortas , being shot in Pretoria and Spain : Seseña , Colmenar Viejo , La Pedriza , Manzanares Del Real , Madrid . It contains an atmospheric musical score by Gianni Marchetti . The motion picture was regularly directed by Sandy Howard and Giovanni Scolaro . Scolaro was an ordinary screen-writer who wrote a lot of Spaghetti Western and Peplum . While Sandy was a powerful producer who financed all kinds of genres such as Westerns : ¨Man in the wilderness¨ , ¨A man called Horse , ¨Retun and triumph a man called Horse¨ , Adventure : : ¨Savage harvest¨, ¨Neptuno factor¨, Thriller : ¨City of fear¨, ¨Stoney¨, ¨Deadly Force¨, ¨Angel I and II¨, ¨Sky riders¨ , Fantasy and Sci-Fi : ¨Embryo¨, ¨The island of Dr Moreau¨, ¨Meteror¨ , ¨The Devil's rain¨ . He only made 3 films : ¨Diary of a bachelor¨ , ¨Gammera , the invincible¨ and this one .
  • Maybe I missed some quick reference in the dialogue, but I'm not exactly sure where or when this film is set, although I'd say in South Africa circa 1900 or so. With George Sanders and his British accent and Ty Hardin and his American accent, I'm not sure exactly what colonial authority these men represent, but I'm probably asking too many questions for a film of this type. Just go with the flow and enjoy... With that attitude in mind, I'd have to say this is a somewhat interesting western-structured film, but transferred to a South African setting. Substitute the indigenous black characters for American Indians, and the South African desert for Arizona; also, give the film a somewhat slower pace so we can soak up the locale and atmosphere; the end result is ONE STEP TO HELL. Both George Sanders and Rosanno Brazzi give the film some class, but both have a limited number of scenes. Pier Angeli adds some depth to the film, although Helga Line is not given much of a role. A veteran of both westerns and war films, Ty Hardin can make himself look convincing toting a gun in any setting, and his female fans can catch him with no shirt on in a few scenes (see my review of MAN OF THE CURSED VALLEY). The distinctive setting and particulars make this film somewhat interesting, but I wouldn't go to any great effort to find a copy. By the way, Ty Hardin's character introduces himself a few times as King Edwards, not King Ray.
  • The African locales add an exotic touch but this movie still plays like one of those standard westerns about the sheriff pursuing escaped convicts across hostile territory. Sometimes, of course, old plots can be redeemed by strong characterizations and sharp dialog, but no such assets are present here. What's more, the videotapes available in America appear to have been edited down in a clumsy fashion so that annoying gaps occur in the story-line.

    However, fans of Ty Hardin -- or more particularly his chest -- will be rewarded by a number of "beefcake" scenes. In fact, Ty's first scene has him shirtless but wearing jodhpurs and knee-high black boots. Later, he's seen bathing in a lake. Then he's shown stripped to the waist while interrogating a prisoner, while recovering in bed from some injuries, and while making discreet love to an admiring female. It's almost as if his torso had been sprayed with some kind of cloth repellent!

    Curiously, his shirt remains on in a sequence which shows him captured by the bad guys and imprisoned in a cage suspended from a tree branch. The bad guys pile firewood under the cage so they can burn him alive and one of them even vows to stick an apple in his mouth so that he'll die like a roasted pig. Hardin manages to escape, but a bare chest inside that cage -- all suntanned and sweaty -- would have added visual interest.

    Pier Angeli, George Sanders, and Rossano Brazzi play supporting parts but have little impact. The setting appears to be about 1900 but nothing in the story seems especially tied to this period.