Great Story line
Raymond Rice | 03/29/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This Movie has a good storyline to it and could be better
But the picture of this movie is terrible, it looks like
the old time film side handle rotaters. Only worth buying
if your a Lee Van Cleef fan."
Van Cleef's Impossible Choice
Raymond Rice | Presque Isle, ME USA | 11/03/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"An entertaining admixture of American idealism and Italian commedia dell'arte, "Al di la della legge" (or "Beyond the Law") is a (sometimes) ambitious attempt to fuse two storylines into one: the conventional (American) tale of the reluctant hero and the conventional (spaghetti) tale of the band of ruthless killers up against a nearly unstoppable (anti-) hero. Lee Van Cleef seems to be particularly amused by the role: as Billy Joe Cudlip, an aging rapscallion and saddle-tramp suddenly become local hero, Cleef relaxes into a role that actually avoids violence whenever possible, who makes comments like, "And no gun play!" Lionel Stander nearly steals the film with his portrayal of "Preacher," an old friend and partner-in-crime of Cleef's: his tongue in cheek performance simultaneously masquerades the "preacher" roles of the classic Westerns and illustrates the tightrope that these minor villains constantly walk--the line between loyalty to each other (and the general desire to do good to most others) and self-interest. Gordon Mitchell is also quite good as the third member of the gang (a sort of low-key "good, bad, and ugly")--an African American whose race is clearly a non-issue to his friends (he avoids playing into the stereotypical roles that Jim Brown in fact is forced to indulge in his own westerns).The central theme of the film is one of community vs. outcast and the pain (as well as freedom) that goes with the latter category. Van Cleef is constantly reminded of his marginal status; what separates him from his two companions is the fact that they don't want to become part of community, that the idea of group values are anathema to their sense of a passing time of freedom. But Van Cleef slowly invests in community through the film (most notably through his growing friendship with Antonio Sabato, who plays a rather naïve émigré from Czechoslovakia). Thus, the film's external violence (represented by a "Wild Bunch" of ruthless bandits, led by Gunther Stoll, who want to steal all of the silver in Silver Town-Van Cleef and his friends were content with only a few thousand dollars' worth, which, to their chagrin, they never even get to enjoy) is a reflection of Van Cleef's internal struggle: stick with your old friends (and the values they represent) or join a "lawful" community? Giorgio Stegani's direction is sometimes erratic (the movie is awkwardly paced; but Stegani's "A" budget cast and crew makes this his best spaghetti), but Enzo Serafin's photography is excellent and Riz Ortoliani's score achieves a perfect balance between heroism and melodrama. In the end, however, the real reason to watch "Beyond the Law" is Lee Van Cleef. The film is not as good as "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" or "Day of Anger" or, most importantly, "The Big Gundown" (all of which came out just before this one), but Van Cleef's acting is never better, never more nuanced, and his characterization never more multi-dimensional. It's a tribute to Van Cleef that we too feel the pain of his impossible choice at film's end--even if the overall experience is nowhere near as good as it might have been."
A Fair Western with a Comic Touch
Eddie Smith | Hot Springs, AR United States | 11/01/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Don't run out and pay top dollar for this movie, but if you can get it on sale somewhere it might entertain you. Van Cleef does a good acting job as the reluctant lawman. There are some decent comic touches. The movie drags a bit in the middle and some of the acting is lousy and the production values (even by 1968 standards) are low. Not too terrible a way to spend a couple of hours on a dull weekend. One big howler of a mistake was a major character, Novak, describes himself as a Czechoslovakian. Czechoslovakia was not founded as a state until 1919, long after the Wild West era ended. He should have described himself as a Bohemian or Moravian. Gee, its usually the Americans that don't know anything about European history, but here the Italians mess up!"
Bad BEYOND REGCONITION. Zero star.
Cestmoi | 01/02/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD quality is a nightmare. The picture looks washed out. Most of the objects on screen are in orange color. Even the grass, the shrubs are in orange! The people look out of proportion. The plot is boring."