china 9, liberty 37 
i believe this might be my first spaghetti western review. it's not like a dislike the genre. i grew up watching clint eastwood in sergio leone's classics and know a few of them by heart. as a genre i have not gotten into the habit of collecting western films. i am a poor student. forgive me.
as for this feature filmed by the great monte hellman, starring fabio testi, warren oates, jenny agutter, and sam peckinpah, well, tonight is the first time i've seen the pic. again, forgive me. it's a rather slow burn of a feature. testi is a condemned gunfighter given a reprieve, and a pardon, if he hunts down an older gunfighter played by oates. agutter is oates' wife and the women caught in the middle of these two cocks of the walk who speak little and shoot a lot. peckinpah is a dime novelist along for the ride.
and the shit goes down. the two gunfighters meet and shoot. that's about it. i won't tell you the rest. see the movie for yourself. agutter does not have much of a role. the script affords her very little but to cry on cue. agutter does that with gusto. and yet she is so lovely and is such a magnetic presence onscreen that i will give the scriptwriters a break for not creating a stronger character for such a nimble actor.
as for testi, a veteran of italian exploitation cinema, hell, that dude is astonishing to watch anything he is in. same goes for oates, an utterly outstanding character actor. director hellman knew how to stage his set pieces for maximum boom. in this film he does not disappoint. the languid pace of the movie, and the anachronistic1970s soundtrack, takes one outside the violence committed by its principals and steeps the viewer into a somnambulant lull of hi desert wastelands. instead of turning the landscape into cliches of other westerns hellman, and his cinematographer, paints a lush palette worthy of the action of the film. hellman's camera glides over the plains and hills of dusty brown and grounds his actors into the dirt of the sets. when violence erupts, as it often does, that grounding of people and place underscores the banality of violent action as it relates to the work of two western gunfighters, men of action and death.
when i get depressed, as i am wont to do lately, i think of all the movies, books and music i have yet to discover. things of the past that are still absolutely new to me. i've not seen it all, heard it all, or read it all. i never will. a movie like this one fills me with hope. i can't go on. i'll go on.