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I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Monday, November 13, 2023

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968)

Time for even more fun as I check out this Chuck Conners flick. Conners plays Clyde McKay who is leading a gang of misfits. When we first see them, they are attacking a Confederate army camp (this movie is set during the Civil War). But that turns out to be a test of their abilities as it is the Confederates who sent McKay off looking for the gang members with the idea of hiring them. The real target is a guarded stash of Union gold. Before they set off McKay is given one final instruction. To kill the rest of the gang after the gold is stolen so that there is no way to trace the crime back to the Confederate army. Why are they worried about this? Well, there is a very good reason, but one I won’t spoil here.

Kill Them All and Come Back Alone is a mixed bag for me. On one hand I really did like the story. It is part western and part heist movie. There are a lot of moving parts that reminded me of Ocean’s Eleven, the Sinatra flick not the Clooney remake. The plan involving a bar fight and sneaking into a secure fort by hiding in the water wagon is clever. They also think out that part of the movie well. Not all these westerns take the time to make sure that the plot is as solid as it is here. So, I appreciated that.

The characters are also a lot of fun, though in a very basic way. Conners’ character is the only one that really stands out as the rest are reduced to strong guy, knife guy, explosives guy, weird gun guy, and of course stab you in the back guy. They characters are less personality and more gimmick, but I’m okay with this. The movie is more focused on the action sequences then it cares about character development. Considering the movie was directed by Enzo Castellari that isn’t a surprise.

Where the movie loses me a bit is with the pacing and ending. There are portions of the movie that feel forced as if the filmmakers felt the need to pad things out. The bit with them “auditioning” before the actual heist takes time to establish a couple of characters, only one of which appears again after the first ten minutes. Then you get a bit of the traveling and getting to know them before they get to work. Again, even with this the characters are more or less reduced to their archetypes, so this all feels like a waste. I was also looking forward to what appeared to be another “no one wins” endings like we get in El Condor, but they do a switcheroo and give a happier ending. If you are happy about murdering bad guys making off with lots of gold that is.

There is a lot to dig here, but it is tempered with some slow spots. Kill Them All and Come Back Alone isn’t the first movie from the Spaghetti western subgenre that I would point folks to, but for the well versed looking for something different it is worth a look. It’s a flawed movie but not terrible.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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