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Film / Death Rides a Horse

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When You've Waited Fifteen Years To Find A Man... It's A Shame You Can Only Kill Him Once!

Da a uomo a uomo ("As man to man"), known in English as Death Rides a Horse, is a 1967 Italian Spaghetti Western film written by Luciano Vincenzoni (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), directed by Giulio Petroni, and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.

When Bill Meceita (Law) was a young lad, he watched his mother and sister get brutally raped and murdered by a gang of outlaws. Now, fifteen years later, he has become an expert gunfighter and is out to find and kill the ones who did it. At the same time, an older man named Ryan (Van Cleef) has just gotten out of jail for a robbery the same gang committed. Both men meet up, and go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the gang that wronged them. However, Ryan has a secret that threatens to tear the duo apart.

It has mostly been distributed by United Artists, but has also been released by Sony in Australia and 20th Century Fox in the Netherlands.

This film contains examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: After Bill and Ryan take down their mutual enemies, Ryan allows Bill to kill him for his involvement in the murder of Bill's family. However, due to Ryan's assistance and the fact that he didn't actually participate, Bill shoots an outlaw about to kill him instead.
  • Best Served Cold: Bill trains for 15 years before going after his family's killers. Ryan waits the same amount of time to go after the gang for framing him because that's his prison sentence.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Walcott, the leader of the gang who killed Bill's parents.
  • Blackmail: Ryan's initial revenge plan is to blackmail the men who framed him for $15,000: a $1,000 for every year he spent in prison.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: One of Cavanaugh's bouncers shoots the glass out of the hand of the barred patron Bill brings into the saloon. Bill returns the favour by shooting the gun out of his hand.
  • Bound and Gagged: After being captured by Walcott's gang, Ryan is kept bound and gagged in the back of a wagon. After they rob the bank, the gang cuts him loose and dumps him unconscious out of the wagon to be caught by the Posse.
  • Buried Alive: Walcott has Bill buried alive from the neck down as punishment for opposing him.
  • Destination Defenestration: During the fight in Burt Cavanaugh's saloon, Bill punches a bartender out through a window.
  • Distinguishing Mark: Burt Cavanaugh, one of Bill's targets, has a tattoo of four aces on his chest. Another one, Pedro, has a scar near his eye. A third wears a distinctive earring.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Two of the guards in the opening scene dramatically cock their lever-action Winchesters before they go out to investigate the noises: although all this would do is eject an unfired shell from the rifle.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Pedro is an outlaw, but he goes absolutely ballistic and nearly whips Bill to death after he kills his equally-evil brother Manuel.
  • Frame-Up: 15 years before the main plot, Ryan was framed by the villains for armed robbery. When he's released from prison and goes after them, their leader frames him again for robbing his bank.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: Bill hunts down his family's killers one by one, knowing each of them by a distinguishing mark.
  • Great Escape: After Ryan is framed for bank robbery, Bill breaks him out of jail.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Ryan was a member of Walcott's gang before being double-crossed. However, he didn't participate in any of their rapes and murders, and assists Bill in stopping them when he gets out of prison. Bill lets him live due to this fact.
  • Inside Job: Walcott worms his way into getting the state's public works fund transferred to his bank, which he plans to rob so he can be the only millionaire in the Old West.
  • Mighty Whitey: Over the course of their vengeance quest, Bill and Ryan save a Mexican village from the bandits they're pursuing.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Bill is introduced as a child watching his family be slaughtered by the villains.
  • Molotov Cocktail: During the final assault, two of Walcott's Bandito's toss firebombs through the windows of the building where Bill and Ryan are holed to drive them out into the open.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Walcott, the leader of the outlaws, used his ill-gotten gains to found a bank. He's just as corrupt in his banking dealings, planning to rob his own bank when the state transfers one million dollars into it.
  • One Bullet Left: Bill has tracked down and killed the men who murdered his family when he was a child, except for one, who turns out to be his mentor, now out of bullets. The hero gives him one bullet, having a single bullet left in his own revolver. However the man just rides off in a Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You trope, and the hero's bullet kills another outlaw who'd been about to shoot him.
  • Outfit Decoy: During the final shootout, Bill puts his hat on the end of a stick and pokes it round the corner of the hacienda to trick Pedro into firing at it.
  • Outlaw: The main antagonists are a group of Western bandits who slaughter families and frame people with glee.
  • Please Kill Me if It Satisfies You: When Bill discovers that Ryan was one of the gang responsible for the murder of his family, he wants to kill him. Ryan tells him that they need to deal with Walcott and his gang first but, if they are both still alive after that, he will willingly allow Bill to kill him.
  • Rape and Revenge: The film concerns a young man's quest to kill the outlaws who raped his mom and sister before killing his entire family.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: A young man who had has family murdered and an older man who was framed for robbery by the same gang team up to take down their mutual enemies.
  • Running Gag: Ryan and Bill develop a habit of saving the other one and then stealing his horse so he cannot follow.
  • Sand Necktie: Bill is buried up to his neck in the square of a Mexican town, partly as torture and partly as a makeshift prison.
  • Sleeping Dummy: The two men who have been trailing Ryan ever since he was released from prison break into his hotel and shoot the form under the blankets on his bed. Ryan, who is seated on a chair in a darkened corner of the room, them lights the lamp and guns the two of them down.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Pedro goes absolutely ballistic and nearly whips Bill to death after Bill kills his equally-evil brother Manuel.
  • Trap Door: Walcott has one in front of his desk for when deals go wrong.
  • Vigilante Man: Bill and Ryan go vigilante to take down Walcott's gang. In fact, Bill actively refuses to become a sheriff's deputy in order to not be shackled by due process.
  • Working on the Chain Gang: The first shot of Ryan following the 15 year Time Skip is the irons being struck from his leg as he is released from the chain gang; showing that he has spent the intervening years in prison.