The Big Gundown

Last updated
The Big Gundown
Italian film poster
Directed by Sergio Sollima
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi [1]
Screenplay by
Story by
Music by Ennio Morricone [1]
CinematographyCarlo Carlini [1]
Edited byGaby Penalba [1]
  • PEA
  • Produzioni Cinematographice Tulio Demicheli [1]
Release date
  • March 1967 (1967-03)(Italy)
  • Italy
  • Spain [1]
Box office1.441 billion ITL (Italy) [2]

The Big Gundown (Italian : La resa dei conti, lit.  'The Settling of Scores') is a Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Sollima, and starring Lee Van Cleef and Tomas Milian.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is the rendering of text from one language to another one word at a time with or without conveying the sense of the original whole.

Spaghetti Western Film genre

Spaghetti Western, also known as Italian Western or Macaroni Western, is a broad subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone's film-making style and international box-office success. The term was used by American critics and those in other countries because most of these Westerns were produced and directed by Italians.



Possessing a reputation for bringing criminals to justice, ready-to-retire bounty hunter Jonathan Corbett (Lee Van Cleef) is summoned to a party by a Texas railroad tycoon by the name of Brockston (Walter Barnes), whose daughter is getting married. Brockston plants the seed that Corbett should consider a run for the Senate, but not before doing one last bounty hunt.

Lee Van Cleef American actor

Clarence Leroy Van Cleef Jr., was an American actor best known for his roles in Spaghetti Westerns such as For A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Hatchet-faced with piercing eyes, he declined to have his nose altered to play a sympathetic character in his film debut, High Noon, and was relegated to a non-speaking outlaw as a result. For a decade he was typecast as a minor villain, his "sinister" features overshadowing his acting skills. After suffering serious injuries in a car crash, Van Cleef had begun to lose interest in his declining career by the time Sergio Leone gave him a major role in For a Few Dollars More. The film made him a box-office draw, especially in Europe.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Brockston offers Corbett his political backing in exchange for tracking down a 12-year-old girl's accused rapist and murderer, who goes by the name of Cuchillo (Tomas Milian), a Mexican who is fleeing back to his native land. Cuchillo means "knife" in Spanish, which is the rascal’s weapon of choice. Corbett expects it to be easy, even offering to do it as a wedding gift.

Tomas Milian American actor

Tomas Milian was a Cuban American actor and singer with Italian citizenship, known for the emotional intensity and humour he brought to roles in European genre films.

Corbett sets out in pursuit of Cuchillo, who is not as dumb as he acts, and who is rather crafty at vexing Corbett at every turn. Corbett pursues Cuchillo into Mexico, where he is arrested when a fight starts in a brothel. Brockston pulls strings to free Corbett from jail and intercepts him, hiring a gang of mercenaries to find Cuchillo. Corbett learns that Cuchillo is innocent and in fact the witness that Brockston's alcoholic son-in-law, Chet Miller (Ángel del Pozo), was the rapist. Corbett misleads the mercenaries to confront Cuchillo with Chet himself. In the final showdown, Corbett provides a knife to Cuchillo to kill Chet, then killing Brockston himself. The two ride together from the scene before parting ways.

Ángel del Pozo Spanish actor and film director

Ángel del Pozo is a Spanish actor. He appeared in more than seventy films since 1960.


Nieves Navarro Spanish actress

Nieves Navarro García is a retired Spanish-born Italian actress and fashion model. Navarro worked extensively in Italian cinema appearing alongside actors such as Totò and Lino Banfi in the 1960s and 1970s. She later adopted the Americanized stage name Susan Scott for many of her productions after 1969.

Gérard Herter, also known as Gerhard Haerter, Gerard Haerther, Gerald Herter, Gerard Herter, and Gerhard Herter was a German actor of the 1950s and 1960 who played many villains, especially Prussian types, in spaghetti westerns. He made his film debut in Caltiki - il mostro immortale in 1959. His last credited appearance was in Ludwig in 1972.

Fernando Sancho actor

Fernando Sancho Les was a Spanish actor. He was born in Zaragoza, in Aragon, Spain, and died in Madrid after surgery.


The Big Gundown was shot in Almeria in late 1966. [3]


The Big Gundown was released in Italy in March 1967 with a running time of 105 minutes. [4] On its release in Spain, the climactic cane-field chase was shortened. [4] In the United States and United Kingdom, the film was released by Columbia Pictures in 1968. Most English-dubbed prints have a runtime of 89 minutes; the cuts therein serve primarily to tighten the film's pacing and remove sequences that do not directly serve the film's plot, although Corbett's character is made to appear more prone to use violence compared to his level-headed characterization in the Italian version. [5] Another English version of the film, which runs for 85 minutes, removes all references to the rape and murder which drives the story. [4] The film was a moderate success during its US theatrical run, grossing $2 million. [6]

In December 2013, Grindhouse Releasing, in association with original rights holder Columbia/Sony, re-released the film with two different cuts, the original 110-minute Italian version, and a 95-minute "expanded US cut", which includes three scenes (which also appear in the Italian version) that were prepared for showing on television despite not being present in the original theatrical prints. [5] [7]

Critical reception

In a contemporary review, the Monthly Film Bulletin stated that "at least this makes for a variation on the familiar solitary superman theme, and the two protagonists are given time to create characters with some personality", noting that "the violence is on the whole less gratuitously excessive than usual; and though the plot tends to ramble, there are several impressively staged sequences to keep interest alive-in particular a manhunt with the wily Mexican pursued through cane fields by dogs and an army of trackers". [8]

In a retrospective review, Stuart Galbraith IV remarked that the film was "unusually fine" noting its "taut, intelligent screenplay" and "Lee Van Cleef's marvelous screen presence" and "especially the outstanding musical score by the great Ennio Morricone.“ [7] Daryl Loomis of DVD Verdict commented: “The story, written by Sergio Donati ( Duck, You Sucker ), is strong, with a darker framing story than one often sees, and a lot of wit and humor throughout... Great performances and some amazing music, combined with strong direction, gorgeous locations, and top-notch camera work (by Carlo Carlini, Death Rides a Horse )... is among the best work of any of the participants' careers... There's no question that, had more people seen The Big Gundown, it would be clearly recognized at the pinnacle of the genre. Luckily, Grindhouse Releasing has graced us with one of the best Blu-ray packages I've seen in a long time... With the extras, the commentaries, and especially the soundtrack CD, this is my pick for Blu-ray release of the year.” [9]

Related Research Articles

<i>For a Few Dollars More</i> 1965 film by Sergio Leone

For a Few Dollars More is a 1965 spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone. It stars Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef as bounty hunters and Gian Maria Volonté as the primary villain. German actor Klaus Kinski plays a supporting role as a secondary villain. The film was an international co-production among Italy, West Germany, and Spain. The film was released in the United States in 1967, and is the second part of what is commonly known as the Dollars Trilogy, following A Fistful of Dollars and preceding The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The films catapulted Eastwood and Van Cleef into stardom.

<i>The Great Silence</i> 1968 film by Sergio Corbucci

The Great Silence is a 1968 revisionist Spaghetti Western film directed and co-written by Sergio Corbucci. An Italian-French co-production, the film stars Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Vonetta McGee and Frank Wolff, with Luigi Pistilli, Mario Brega, Marisa Merlini and Carlo D'Angelo in supporting roles.

<i>Dollars Trilogy</i> 1964-1966 Three films directed by Sergio Leone

The Dollars Trilogy, also known as the Man with No Name Trilogy or the Blood Money Trilogy, is an Italian film series consisting of three Spaghetti Western films directed by Sergio Leone. The films are titled A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). They were distributed by United Artists.

Sergio Corbucci

Sergio Corbucci was an Italian film director. He is best known both for his very violent spaghetti westerns and bloodless Bud Spencer and Terence Hill action comedies.

<i>The Sabata Trilogy</i> 1969-1971 Three films directed by Gianfranco Parolini

The Sabata Trilogy is a series of Spaghetti Western films released between 1969 and 1971, directed by Gianfranco Parolini, and starring Lee Van Cleef in the first, Sabata, Yul Brynner in the second, Adiós, Sabata, and Van Cleef returning for the third, Return of Sabata.

<i>Death Rides a Horse</i> 1967 film by Giulio Petroni

Death Rides a Horse is a 1967 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni, written by Luciano Vincenzoni and starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law.

<i>The Hellbenders</i> 1967 Spanish film directed by Sergio Corbucci

The Hellbenders is a 1967 Spaghetti Western directed by Sergio Corbucci.

Sergio Sollima Italian film director

Sergio Sollima was an Italian film director and script writer.

<i>The Big Gundown</i> (album) 1985 studio album by John Zorn

The Big Gundown is an album by American composer and saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist John Zorn. It comprises radically reworked covers of tracks by the Italian film composer Ennio Morricone.

Bob Murawski is an American film editor as well as a film distributor of cult horror and independent films under the "Box Office Spectaculars" and "Grindhouse Releasing" labels. He was awarded the 2010 Academy Award for Best Film Editing for his work on The Hurt Locker, which he shared with fellow editor Chris Innis. He often works with film director Sam Raimi, having edited the Spider-Man trilogy, Oz the Great and Powerful, and the 2015 remake of Poltergeist. He is an elected member of the American Cinema Editors.

Grindhouse Releasing American film distributor

Grindhouse Releasing is a Hollywood-based independent cult film distribution company led by film editor Bob Murawski and co-founded by Sage Stallone. Grindhouse digitally remasters, restores, and produces bonus materials and video documentaries for cult film DVDs and Blu-rays which it distributes on the CAV label.

<i>Face to Face</i> (1967 film) 1967 film by Sergio Sollima

Face to Face is a 1967 Italian/ Spanish international co-production Spaghetti Western film co-written and directed by Sergio Sollima and produced by Alberto Grimaldi. The film stars Gian Maria Volonté, Tomas Milian and William Berger, and features a musical score by Ennio Morricone. It is the second of Sollima's three Westerns, following The Big Gundown and predating Run, Man, Run, a sequel to the former. Milian stars in a lead role in all three films.

<i>Compañeros</i> 1970 film

Compañeros is a 1970 Zapata Western film directed by Sergio Corbucci. The film stars Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Jack Palance and Fernando Rey. The soundtrack for the film was written by Ennio Morricone, and the orchestra was conducted by Bruno Nicolai.

<i>Day of Anger</i> 1967 film by Tonino Valerii

Day of Anger is a 1967 Spaghetti Western film directed and co-written by Tonino Valerii and starring Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma, and features a musical score by Riz Ortolani. The film credits the novel Der Tod ritt dienstags by Ron Barker as its basis, although Valerii and screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi have attested that this credit was primarily included to appease the West German co-producers, and that although some scenes are partially borrowed from it, the film is not an adaptation of Becker's novel.

<i>The Tough Ones</i> (1976 film) 1976 film by Umberto Lenzi

The Tough Ones is a 1976 Italian poliziottesco film directed by Umberto Lenzi.

<i>Take a Hard Ride</i>

Take a Hard Ride is a 1975 DeLuxe Color Italian-American Spaghetti Western film directed by Antonio Margheriti and starring Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly.

<i>Run, Man, Run</i> 1968 film by Sergio Sollima

Run, Man, Run is an Italian-French Zapata Western film. It is the second film of Sergio Sollima centred on the character of Cuchillo, again played by Tomas Milian, after the two-years earlier successful western The Big Gundown. It is also the final chapter of the political-western trilogy of Sollima, and his last spaghetti western. According to the same Sollima, Run, Man, Run is the most politic, the most revolutionary and even anarchic among his movies.

<i>Terrible Day of the Big Gundown</i> 1971 film by Sergio Garrone

Terrible Day of the Big Gundown is a 1971 Italian Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Garrone.



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hughes 2004, p. 146.
  2. Fisher, Austin (2014). Radical Frontiers in the Spaghetti Western: Politics, Violence and Popular Italian Cinema. I.B.Tauris. p. 220.
  3. Hughes 2004, p. 149.
  4. 1 2 3 Hughes 2004, p. 154.
  5. 1 2 The Big Gundown (Cutting to the Chase: The Tale of Two Gundowns (Media notes). Los Angeles: Grindhouse Releasing. 2013.
  6. Hughes 2004, p. 157.
  7. 1 2 Galbraith IV, Stuart (December 10, 2013). ""The Big Gundown Blu-ray" review,". DVD Talk . Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  8. "Resa dei Conti, La (The Big Gundown)". Monthly Film Bulletin . Vol. 36 no. 420. 1969. pp. 59–60.
  9. DVD Verdict “The Big Gundown (1966) (Blu-ray) review” DVD Verdict, by Daryl Loomis, December 26th, 2013