With so many spaghetti western films out there taking the name of Django in their title, it’s very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, and I’m afraid to say there is usually more chaff then wheat.
But before we start to pick over the bones of this offering from Demofilo Fidani, the Ed Wood of Spaghetti Westerns, what’s it all about? But with this Django feature, that’s easier to ask than it is to answer.
Set in the Mexican border town of Black City, a new sheriff, Jack Ronson(Fabio Testi) rides into town to take over the vacant position in this gang ravaged town. A town, which has been under the control of the ruthless Bud Wheeler (Dino Strano) and Sanchez (Benito Pacifico), the head of a gang of renegade Mexican bandits. However, the new sheriff is not the only new face in town, with the arrival of a mysterious bounty hunter, all in black named Django (Jack Betts).
However, something is missing in all this, as the title says ‘One Damned Day At Dawn … Django Meets Sartana’, where is the character Santana. A well-known name in the world of spaghetti westerns, with five official films under his belt, with such titles as If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death and I Am Sartana Your Angel Of Death. So the idea of Sartana going up against Django sounds too go to be true, oh and how true that statement is for this feature.
Many spaghetti western rip-offs of time would use headline names such as Django and Sartana to boast their appeal, and one culprit of this was Demofilo Fidani. Fidani, regarded as the Ed Wood of spaghetti westerns, with his nutty characters, poor continuity and just plain daft storylines filled with flashbacks and incoherent narratives, was the lead in these cons to the film going public.
Saying this however, the film does look the part, with the town of Black City looking down trodden and weather beaten, aiding to the atmosphere of picture and is used to great effect. This may be due to the fact the set designer was also roped in to help write the script.
Though even with the set design on hand with the script, this doesn’t make it any better a story, with a Jack Ronson as one of the poorest heroes in spaghetti western history and with the film padded out with staring competition and name calling. Very little happens until the final showdown. Plus the near feature length flashback in the middle of the film doesn’t help things along either.
Not to say that One Damned Day At Dawn is all bad, there are some good atmospheric moments and I quite liked the score, even if it was cut off half way through sometimes by some bonkers editing by Fidani.
So would I recommend it? I’m not sure, maybe as lesson of what not to do, or as a way of appreciating the better offerings that spaghetti westerns have to offer, it really up to you but you have been warned, this is no classic.
Jack Betts … Django (as Hunt Powers)
Fabio Testi … Sartana / Jack Ronson
Dino Strano … Bud Willer (as Dean Stratford)
Benito Pacifico … Paco Sanchez (as Dennis Colt)
Luciano Conti … Joe ‘The Worm’ Smith (as Lucky McMurray)
Directed By … Demofilo Fidani