The Making of the Italian West: Part 13

Sartana Part Two by Phillip López Jiménez

More articles by Phillip López Jiménez

Continuing from the last blog, more exciting adventures featuring the black cloaked one Sartana!

There is some debate over the order of the pictures, since Have A Good Funeral My Friend…Sartana Will Pay and Light The Fuse…Here Comes Sartana and the non Gianni Garko picture Sartana Is Here…Trade Your Pistol For A Coffin were all made the same year, 1970, but I tried to put them in the order that seems most logical. In interviews Garko had said he wanted to move on and turned the role in Pistol Down, but Pistol was released before Light The Fuse Sartana Is Here. Like the Django films, there were some knock offs most notably Django vs. Sartana, Django And Sartana’s Showdown In The West, Sartana In The Valley of Death, and even Gianni Garko hijacking his own character in Price Of Death (Sartana Is Coming…Trade Your Pistol For A Coffin is considered a fake Sartana, more on that later) I may go over these pictures in a future blog, but for now I’ll write of the official one’s.

Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen these pictures you may want to skip these as I’ll be writing about all the plot details.

Have A Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay


Have A Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

Buon Funerale Amigos!…Paga Sartana, Stranger’s Gold

Director: Giuliano Carnimeo

Writers: Roberto Gianviti, Giovanni Simonelli

Music: Bruno Nicolai

The picture opens with a gang of outlaws storming into a cabin and killing the folks inside and setting the place ablaze, burning it to the ground. Celebrating their malicious act of terrorism, they pass around, what else, a golden nugget only to realize they’re being watched!

Better Pray For your mortal soul!threatens one of the men,

You better pray for yours.”  -Sartana

And thus opens Have A Good Funeral My Friend…Sartana Will Pay. If I Am Sartana…Pray For Your Death is my favorite, then Have A Good Funeral My Friend…Sartana Will Pay is the coolest in the series. Gianni Garko is back in the caped suit, for the third time, and more suave and sophisticated than ever. Now sporting a handlebar mustache, Garko’s Santana is now much closer to a pulp hero than ever, making for a fun and highly entertaining action picture. As usual in Have A Good Funeral My Friend…Sartana Will Pay, Sartana knows what lurks in the hearts of men…greed,  and again he plays the characters like a fine game of poker, lots of bluffing, manipulations and of course gunplay; this time though he only busts out his trademark Sharp’s and Hankins four barrel Pepperbox pistol towards the end, but he has another trick up his sleeve or rather weapon!

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After the opening credits, featuring the music of Morricone alum, Bruno Nicolai, we follow a well dressed Asian man to the town of Indian Creek and into a saloon owned by Lee Tse Tung (George Wang) and yes, cue up the stereotypical Chinese music but here it’s also accompanied by a cool big muff guitar dirge, thank you Bruno!

Now enter the great Franco Pesce as The Undertaker, another version of the first picture’s Dusty. Pesce was born in Naples and studied to be an opera singer but got the movie bug in the 20s and decided to become a cinematographer, later he became a very active character actor and was very prolific in the Spaghetti Western genre often playing the eccentric old man role, kind of like Walter Brennan here in the states. Here again, he plays Sartana’s confidant, The Undertaker, every time Sartana whacks someone he generously offers The Undertaker a Few dollars more than his asking price. When we first meet him he’s carrying several coffins with pretty flowers resting on them.

He’s accosted by an angry man named Samuel Pigott, whose on his way to Indian Creek and demands to know who paid for the flowers he roughs up The Undertaker and moves on.

Click for scene

Later Sartana goes into the saloon and quickly makes his presence known by picking a fight with dealer, Samuel Pigott, but the dealer pulls a pistol him, that doesn’t stop Sartana though as he whips out his pocket watch and uses it like a bullwhip (remember in the “prequel” to the series,  Sartana used a bullwhip.) throwing the gun from Pigott’s hand the slapping a guy behind him. All this is a ruse really so that he can meet with crippled saloon owner Lee Tse Tung who sits in an ornate chair that can be used as a rickshaw!

The two exchange pleasantries and Sartana plays a round of poker using the Benson land grant as collateral, “Confucius say, (yeah, I know) He who buys sand does not build ramparts of stone.” Suggesting that the land is worth nothing. Sartana calls his bluff “Just because he’s wise, does not mean he knows about real estate.”

Now we meet the next player, banker Ronald Hoffman (Antonio Vilar).

We learn that Joe Benson left the deed to the land to his niece Abigail Benson (Daniela Giordano)


Born in Palermo, Daniela Giordano was the winner of 1966 Miss Italia contest as Miss Sicily. She made her acting debut in the Franco & Ceccio picture I Barbiaria Di Sicilia. She also played in another Giuliano Carnimeo western Find A Place To Die with Jeffery Hunter. She mostly stared in exploitation and genre pictures before retiring in 1980. Some highlights are the Polizizzoteco film by Violent Rome, Sergio Martino’s giallo picture Your Vice Is A Locked Room And Only I Have The Key and Luigi Cozzi’s sexy all’Italiana picture La Porteria Nuda with fellow Sartana girl Erica Blanc.

Click for Scene.

Sartana tracks down the gang who murdered Joe Benson. This is a very good scene made even more watchable with Nicholi’s score. Sartana disguises one of his targets as himself, leading to him being killed by his own gang, Sartana then shows up behind them and seemingly kills them all…all but leader, Colorado Joe. Don’t worry he hunts him down at a hidden mine located on the burned down Benson property and blows him up in the mine, a bit anticlimactic but it works.

Click for Scene “Here’s the proof sheriff”

Once back in town, the sheriff asks him how’s he gonna prove those men are bad, Sartana walks into the office and comes back with wanted posters “long Harry, $500. Red Dwyer, $1000.  Jimmy Bert another $500. Colorado Joe,  a mean $2000.  “what a pity, too much work to dig down to him.” Sartana knows the sheriff and Hoffman were using these guys as muscle.

Hoffman and Abigail meet and discuss the deed. Hoffman graciously says he’ll give her ten grand for the worthless land. She’s tells him she’s very flattered but Sartana has already offered her Twenty! He tells her that this Sartana character must not be trusted, but cleverly doesn’t push the issue.

 Later in a rare Bondian moment Sartana meets up with Abigail in her room “Why are you doing this for me, Sartana?” Abigail asks, he takes her into his arms saying “I’m doing it for a friend, but also for you.” , “The more I think about it, the more it’s for you”. He takes out a playing card and flings it across the room where it slices off the wick of a lit candle.

Click for barbershop scene

My favorite action scene in this picture finds Sartana in a barber’s chair. Outside a wagon with three coffins rolls by, three gunmen pop out of the coffins, blasting the barbershop. Sartana pulls the chair level down, laying himself flat and just misses getting plugged. He takes off and gives chase. The proceeding scene plays like a William Whitney action serial, with back and forth gun play. Each time Sartana plugs a thug they drop into their individual coffin!


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One escapes, Blackie. “Blackie, why that boy’s one of my deputies.” Says sheriff. “Before you swear in a new deputy…you better check his references.” replies Sartana.

In a nice noirish scene Sartana eventually hunts Blackie down into a church.

Click for scene

Visibly shaken, Blackie is about to confess before he’s assassinated, by the sheriff. We also learn that Abigail has now gotten a larger offer on the land from Lee Tse Tung. Now some goons go into Lee Tse Tung’s and cause a good ol’ fashioned bar room brawl that reeks of stuntmen having a good time! Sartana comes in, flings one of his cards like a Chinese throwing star and slices off the rope to Lee Tse’s gong!

He fills in Lee Tse Tung on what’s going on with the land. Sartana now has everybody a bit panicked, mainly Hoffman and his crew, so Hoffman hires the Pigott Brothers and tells them Sartana killed their brother Sam.

They stroll into town with the soundtrack blaring which must mean they’re a force to be reckoned with, but Sartana picks them off one by one with relative ease.

The sheriff and Hoffman meet, things is gettin’ a bit too hot for the sheriff, so Hoffman agrees to stop their partnership and grabs a book that has all the records of transactions when he opens the book a gun pops out, a steampunk looking trick, and shoots the sheriff dead!

The rest of the picture is Sartana settling scores with all the bad apples, the last is Hoffman who tries to pull the book gun trick on Sartana, but it backfires (pun intended).

Abigail goes to Lee Tse Tung but she won’t discuss the sale of the property unless Sartana is there. He shows up tossing a card into a steel safe and forces Lee Tse Tung to pay the full $100,000 for the property. Abigail leaves. “Now tell me Lee Tse do you really feel bad about paying full price?” “You look out for your friend Joe Benson.” “No, he was never my friend. I was hunting him down for fraud.” He pulls out a Golden nugget and squashes it, it’s dirt. “You see Benson was telling people he had gold on his land when he really didn’t.”

The crippled Lee Tse Tung angrily leaps out of his wheel chair and starts going  full Kung fu on Sartana. Eventually Sartana gets the upper hand and walks away, but once Lee Tse Tung finds out that Abigail bounced with all the money he breaks out in laughter like a 70s sitcom which is actually kinda funny. Sartana catches up to Abigail and takes the money except for the original 10 grand that she was gonna sell it for.

Have a Good Funeral…Sartana Will Pay was released October 8, 1970. Director Giuliano Carnimeo shows once again he knows how to direct the action sequences, which are more of the B-Hollywood western style rather than the stylized Leone way. The chase scenes are quite exciting and the brawls are fun, with chairs and tables being tossed around. Garko’s Sartana gets some romance time, which one doesn’t see too often in these type of pictures. All and all it’s a fun picture that holds up on repeated viewings.

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Light The Fuse…Sartana Is Coming! (1970)

Light The Fuse…Sartana Is Coming! (1970)

Uno Nuvola Di Polvera Un Grido Di Morte…Arriva Sartana!

Director Giuliano Carnimeo

Writer Tito Carpi, Ernesto Gastaldi and Eduardo Manzanos

Music Bruno Nicholi

Staring Gianni Garko, Nieves Navarro, Piero Lulli

Several lawmen smack around a woman, while she screams for her father, who himself is being violently beaten by the town’s sheriff! We learn he’s the local judge! They all open fire on him, brutally killing him as a man in black approaches.

“Hey Preacher, what are you doin’ here, figurin’ on savin’ a soul?”

“Maybe he’s a body snatcher.”

“The Good Book says, prey not only for the virtuous, but for the sinners as well.”

 Thus opens what would be, sadly, the final Gianni Garko Sartana; Una Nuvola Di Polvere…Un Grido Di Morte Arriva Sartana or Light The Fuse…Sartana Is Coming

After this rather violent and well made open Sartana gathers up the bodies and leaves town accompanied by another great soundtrack composed again by Bruno Nicoli. Sartana takes these bodies to the Everglades penitentiary (This is the same location as in Bullet For The General with the holding cells in the ground.)  where he mysteriously confesses to murdering these lawmen. He is then beaten, tossed in a cell and micturated on.

We then meet another inmate Granville (Django Kill’s Piero Lulli) whose been beaten and tortured and offered to be set free if he tells the warden (The Bird With The Crystal Plumage’s Giuseppe Castellano) where he has hidden, you guessed it, the gold he swindled. Sartana then escapes by sliding open his boot heel and pulling out a pen dart and blowing a poison dart into a couple of the guards. He then walks over to Granville’s cell. Turns out Sartana was told to see this man. Granville tells him he has half a million in gold and he’ll split it with him if’n he busts him out. Granville and Sartana break out in an interesting escape.

Turns out Granville was partners in a gambling house and his partner, Johnson, also owned a bank and was asked to mediate a transaction, the sheriff’s younger brother had two million in counterfeit money and an outlaw named Monk was ready to pay a half million in gold for them there bank notes. So Monk, actually one of his men (Joe Torres) and the kid brother meet only to be bushwhacked by Johnson who took everything, when Granville found out, Johnson tried to kill him and Granville took off. Johnson was later found dead and the counterfeit notes and gold went missing, so the sheriff assumed Granville killed Johnson and hid the goods and had him jailed and tortured hoping to get the info outta him, whew, that’s one mighty exposition scene! Again, these pictures play better on repeated views when ya don’t have ta think so darned much!

After the two separate, Sartana heads over to town and gets a room where he’s immediately shot at by a deputy sheriff who are thugs that work for Sheriff Manassus Jim (Don’t Look Now’s Massimo Serato) turns out there’s a price on Sartana’s head and everyone is after him.

Sartana meets up with the Sheriff, who tells him a slightly different story about the goods and feels the gold belongs to him, since it was his deceased brother’s, he tries to make a deal with the cloaked one but no dice, but he does convince the sheriff to lose the price on his head. Let games begin!

Sartana holes up in a barn and plays his pipe organ, yes his pipe organ and he’s pretty good too. Here he chats it up with inventor Plon Plon (again plaid by Franco Pesce) who introduces him to Alfie, a mechanized man, that looks a bit like a tiki on wheels, about the size of Bubo the owl from 1981’s Clash of The Titan’s but not as slick as Ray Harryhausen’s creation.

Now we meet the widow to the guy who had the gold and she claims that the gold is rightfully hers and try’s to make a deal with Sartana. Again no dice.

Plon Plon figures out where the gold is stashed and is whacked. I didn’t like that this character had to leave.

So now we have:
The Widow – Belle Manassus
The Sheriff – Manassus Jim
The Casino owner-Granville

And now we meet the Bandit

Monk (José Jaspe) who for some odd reason dresses like a circus band leader, tells the story as well, this starting to sound like Kurasawa’s Rashomon…well not really. Monk offers a deal with Sartana if he can tell him where Granville is, now this Sartana excepts!

Manassus Jim beats him to Granville though and tries to kill him, but Monks gang shows up and the two groups shoot it out. Back in town Sartana does some investigating and finds some strange dirt on someone’s boots.

He then goes to a cemetery and digs up a Coffin, the dirt around it is similar to the dirt on the boots, knowing he’s being watched he set Alfie to work! Both the sheriff and Monk’s men show up, looks like Sartana is doomed, but Alfie shows up and launches a couple of mortar rounds then turn and and a derringer pops out and starts firing. No one dies but now Sartana has the upper hand and some more exposition.

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The boot with the crystalline dirt belonged to Manassus’ brother and was in Johnson’s grave. “Find the crystalline dirt and you find the money.”

Sartana finds the money in a cave where Manassus is holed up and threatens to burn it, “You wouldn’t dare!” No, but Alfie will take care of it. He sends poor Alfie in for one last mission and destroys Manassus and the money.

Knowing that Monk is coming to town Sartana decided to give an open air concert with his pipe organ. He eloquently plays his instrument as Monks men approach, he then pulls pressure buttons and a couple pipes drop and launch middles at Monks men then more pipes drop and it becomes a Gatling gun!

We find out Granville and his brother’s wife, Belle, were in cahoots. And Sartana explains all this like a true detective. The gold is found and the final shoot out between Granville and Sartana. So what of the gold you might ask, Sartana plates Alfie with it!


Light The Fuse…Sartana Is Coming plays much better on repeated viewings once you know the convoluted plot. The first time I watched this I wasn’t too impressed by as the plot seemed to have to much going on, with all the Rashomon styled flashbacks and the steampunkish elements, but it eventually won me over with repeated viewings. It’s a lot of fun with some funny moments and some good gunplay. These pictures could be fun a TV show like Columbo. Each week someone hijacks some gold, frames some folks and Sartana comes in to solve the puzzle and pass judgment! As it is though, it is a lot like Wild Wild West, especially this one with Alfie, the little steampunk robot,  and the organ that becomes Gatling gun.

Next: The Sartana rip-offs!