Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lee Van Cleef and Arpels!

Beyond the Law  (Cinema Shares International Distribution, 1973)

Well, they called it Beyond the Law over here...

Before the Camera:

Lee Van Cleef  (Escape from New York)
Antonio Sabato  (War of the Robots)
Bud Spencer  (Trinity is My Name)
Lionel Stander  (TV's Hart to Hart)
Graziella Granata  (Curse of the Blood Ghouls)
Herbert Fux  (Woyzeck)
Carlo Gaddi  (Django the Bastard)
Al Hoosman  (Town Without Pity) - he's uncredited for some reason in this flick!
Gordon Mitchell  (Atlas Against the Cyclops)

Behind the Camera:

Directed by Giorgio Stegani

Produced by Enrico Chroscicki, Alfonso Sansone, and Luggi Waldleitner

Written by Mino Roli, Giorgio Stegani, Fernando Di Leo, Lorenzo Sabatini, and Inge Hilger

Story by Lorenzo Sabatini

Here we have the great Lee Van Cleef excellently cast as rough edged two-bit criminal Billy Joe Cudlip, who takes on the job of sheriff in a small town initially to be in a better position to steal the payroll and silver from the citizens of the mining community. But, wonder of wonders, after a short time battling some of the criminal element in the town - the newly minted lawman finds the job (and the respect he's given) pretty agreeable. He also starts to help the cheerfully naive young mining exec (Sabato) just arrived from Europe who has been sent to protect all of the money and precious metals. This does not sit well with Van Cleef's two cronies (Stander and Hoosman) who are ready to grab the dough and go go go. There's also the other mining official (Spencer) to deal with plus a gang of no-goodniks led by a nutjob in a cape (Mitchell) obsessed with absconding with the loot. Will Van Cleef stay on the side of the angels - or will he only be there long enough to steal the silver himself?

"Bowties are cool."

"For the last time, no, you cannot call me Mr. H!"

Gordon Mitchell - with a face carved from villainstone.

While no world beating classic, I had a good time with this light hearted Western that also has a little heist movie and buddy adventure flick mixed in. Director Stegani doesn't set out here to reinvent the wheel - and sometimes that is just fine. It's not a bright and colorful movie - we stick to the period's palette of dusty browns and muddy browns with some light and dark browns thrown in for variety, but it's a great cast with everyone seeming to have a good time in their roles, and you may find yourself wondering which side of the fence Van Cleef is going to land on before the end credits roll.

If you enjoy an old fashioned Spaghetti Western from the old school - before they started going all stylized - then this is a safe bet. Beware the dozens of cheapie DVDs out there - you might get a chopped up print. This is the one I recommend:

Check this one out!

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At around 42:49, one of the bandits has grown tired of Lee Van Cleef's shooting skills.

Eye Candy ?

Period Western dress is difficult to pull off in the area of eye candy - but I'm giving it to the curvy Graziella Granata!

Welcome to the list, Ms. Granata!

Buddha Man's Capsule Review

Buddha Man says "Beyond the Law shows why Lee
Van Cleef was The Master - of spaghetti westerns!"

Thank you Buddha! Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Lee Van Cleef was certainly a favorite. Angel Eyes had that IT factor going for him. And could Gordon Mitchell be any more villainous? I could just see with a waxed mustache to go along with that black hat.

    1. I first became aware of Lee Van Cleef when he played the hardass sending Kurt Russell into the Federal Detention area known as Manhattan in Escape from New York in 1981 - and it was fun watching him in everything else he'd done before!

  2. I'm shocked that I haven't seen this. Movies like this - especially movies with Bud Spencer or Herbert Fux - were regularly shown on Austrian TV. I've seen Spencer movies like BANANA JOE or WATCH OUT, WE'RE MAD! countless times, especially BANANA JOE which I basically know inside out :)

    1. I have been a Spencer fan for decades - since Crimebusters played on Showtime way back when. I think this was my first Herbert Fux flick - which is a phrase well worth saying several times a day - one of the greatest names ever - at least the way I pronounce it!