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A Bullet for the General
A Bullet for the General
Actors: Gian Maria Volonté, Klaus Kinski, Martine Beswick, Lou Castel
Director: Damiano Damiani
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House
UR     2007     1hr 58min

At the height of the Mexican revolution, a mysterious young American (Lou Castel of FIST IN HIS POCKET) joins a gang of marauders led by El Chucho (Gian Maria Volonte of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS) on a series of savage raids...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Gian Maria Volonté, Klaus Kinski, Martine Beswick, Lou Castel
Director: Damiano Damiani
Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Indie & Art House
Studio: Blue Underground
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 03/27/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/1967
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1967
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 58min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

"Don't buy bread - buy dynamite!"
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 01/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Following with the unlikely alliance of an opportunistic American (Lou Castel) and a Mexican bandit (Gian Maria Volonte) who sells arms to the rebels, the first half hour or so of Damiano Damiani's cult classic is more than a bit ropey. The director has difficulty establishing the relationship between the two leads and resorts to a succession of shoot-em-ups. Thankfully, these are better handled than the drawn out opening attack on the train carrying Castel's enigmatic gringo, in which too many of the ideas are in the script and too few in the execution.

If the first half is the usual running with the rebels territory, the film becomes more complex as it progresses. It is clear from the beginning that the gringo is working to his own agenda, and throughout the course of the film he steers the group towards it. Not interested in women, he professes to be interested only in money, yet at one point kills a rebel paymaster and throws away his cash. Yet even after his objective and the bandito's part in it become clear, the film manages to take the characters even further in an intriguing epilogue.

Both may be mercenary, but finally choose their own executioners, although in very different ways. Castel inadvertently because, despite ruthlessly killing those on both sides to achieve his end, he is ultimately not ruthless enough, Volonte voluntarily, passing judgement on himself when he realises the consequences of his actions.

Castel is a fairly anonymous lead as the 'ugly American', a potential flaw which the director manages to turn to the film's advantage. A moral void, he has no ideals and no scruples but is instead a remorseless pragmatist. The real undercurrents in their relationship are brought out by Volonte; his bandito, first seen literally banging his own drum, manages to avoid caricature. His growing politicisation is convincing, as is his spellbound look of (largely sexual) confusion at the gringo during a confrontation with a landowner. The audience's sympathies are never directly engaged, our involvement with the character more covert and accidental en route.

Hailed as the best of the political spaghetti westerns, A Bullet For the General doesn't quite live up to the epithet but is still a remarkable example of the genre. Co-writer Franco Solinas also wrote Battle of Algiers and Quiemada, and his revolutionary fervour is very visible in the film's parallels with America's covert overseas operations and the presence of a militant priest throwing hand grenades in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost (a less wired than usual Klaus Kinski as Volante's half-mad half-brother). The film even ends with a call to arms -"Don't buy bread, buy dynamite!""
One of the best spaghetti westerns... not to be missed!
ilyas malgit | Adana, Yuregir Turkey | 11/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This title ranks among the best spaghetti westerns, and it is in my personal top 10 spaghettis. Gian-Maria Volonte is great as usual and the movie fits to his political views. Too bad he abandoned the western genre after 'Face To Face' in 1967. I wish he'd made for westerns as it is a great pleasure to watch him either he plays the hero or the villain. He played in 4 westerns all of which are considered to be in top 10 or at least top 20. Also check for 'Sacco&Vanzetti' (not a western though)to see how talented he is."
A minor classic but for the lead performance
William T. Wiggins | New Jersey | 03/03/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This ambitious Zapata Western has a lot going for it but is ultimately undercut by the performance of Gian Maria Volonte in the lead role. Volonte is Chuncho, a swaggering, loudmouthed Mexican rebel, who teams up with a mysterious young American (Lou Castel as El Nino) to steal guns to aid the rebel cause. The two lead their gang through numerous adventures on the way to meet the rebel leader (the "General" of the title). The Chuncho character is meant to be a profane, wily sort much like Eli Wallach's Tuco or, later, Rod Steiger's Juan; however, Volonte is not up to the task. His brooding, drooling take on Chuncho does not endear him to the audience, and we have no cause to root for him to achieve his goals. He is totally annoying; and is not helped by the exaggerated, cartoonish Mexican accent provided by his dubbing artist. Castel, for his part, is a fine foil to Chuncho and invokes real empathy from the viewer even as we are not really sure where his loyalties lie. The film has an epic, sweeping feel to it and is by no means a failure. The story is engaging and appropriately melodramatic; I would call it a minor classic but for the lead performance."