• Hanging For Django

    Released by: Raro Video
    Released on: October 29th, 2013.
    Director: Sergio Garrone
    Cast: Anthony Steffan, William Berger, Mario Brega
    Year: 1969
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    The Movie:

    Directed by Sergio Garrone, Hanging For Django (which is one of countless Spaghetti Westerns to use ‘Django’ in the title… only to prove completely unrelated to Sergio Corbucci’s masterpiece) introduces us to Mr. Fargo (Riccardo Garrone), a dastardly man who makes a very nice living for himself smuggling Mexican immigrants into the United States and then selling them into slavery on the black market. He’s not a very nice man. In fact, during these runs if he feels that there’s even a hint that they’ll get busted by the Feds, rather than let his passengers free to try to make it on their own, he’ll order his men to gun them down. This way there’s nobody left to talk.

    Fargo’s operation comes into jeopardy when a pair of bounty hunters, Johnny Brandon (Anthony Steffen) and Everett Murdock (William Berger), saunters into town. Although they’re not here for Fargo specifically and only intend to stay as long as they need to in order to catch their wanted man, Fargo starts to plan his last big job, but Brandon and Everett each develop reasons of their own for wanting to bring him down…

    Better known for directing Django The Bastard (releases stateside by VCI as The Stranger’s Gundown for those keeping scores) and a few fairly nasty nazisploitation epics, Sergio Garrone makes the Leone influence obvious. There are loads of intense close ups shots of the various players’ eyes darting about and hands reaching for pistols and plenty of Morricone-esque musical cues to keep us intrigued but Garrone is never able to hit the artistic highs that Leone used to make his movies so completely riveting. He compensates for this by ramping up the action and the shootout sequences, making this a fairly fast paced and violent picture, if not one that is particularly involved.

    The three principal actors all do fine work here. Steffan has a steely gaze and gives his character a sense of wrong or right while Berger, whose character disguises himself as a priest sometimes, also convinces. They both look the part, they’re dusty, dirty men, the kind who have made a life for themselves through violence and earned a living through the death of others. Their morality is questionable, but of course, as Fargo’s intentions become more obvious, the lines between ‘good guy’ and ‘bad guy’ become considerably less blurry. Riccardo Garrone, brother to the director, overdoes it a bit but his occasional scenery chewing is at least fun to watch.

    This picture was made fast and cheap as an attempt to cash in on the popularity of Django and Leone’s Dollars trilogy. The production values won’t blow you away but some decent camera work helps things out. The score varies from fairly effective to unusually comic but is nothing if not memorable. Ultimately this isn’t going to rank high in the upper echelon of Spaghetti Western pictures but it is a fun shoot’em up with some cool characters and just enough style to work.


    Raro presents Hanging For Django in an AVC encoded 1080i transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. The fact that the trailer is interlaced is probably going to irk some as combing effects can be seen even when the movie is in motion. Additionally, it looks like some noise reduction has been applied here, giving facial features a waxy quality and sapping out some of the detail along with the grain. With that said, this does offer more depth and better clarity than we’d get on DVD and color reproduction is quite nice. Black levels are fairly strong and shadow detail isn’t bad. Contrast looks okay, save for a few scene outside that feel a bit ‘hot’ (this could be intentional on the part of Garrone as it suites the mood of the film well).

    Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono tracks are offered up in English and Italian with optional subtitles provided in English only. Both tracks sound fine but gunshots sound a little weak. Dialogue is easy to understand and there isn’t any audible hiss or distortion to note in either track. Levels are properly balanced. There aren’t any real problems here, but a lossless option would have been ideal.

    Outside of trailers and chapter stops, the only extra on the disc itself is a fourteen minute featurette entitled Two Bounty Killers for a Massacre. Here film historian Manlio Gomarasca gives some critical insight into the merits of the feature and offers a bit of an overview for the Spaghetti Western movement as a whole. It’s interesting and worth watching. Inside the case is a color booklet of liner notes featuring an essay on the film and biographies for Sergio Garrone and Anthony Steffan. The Blu-ray case fits inside a nice slipcase that features identical cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Hanging For Django isn’t a top tier Spaghetti Western but it is well made and quite a bit of fun. Steffan turns in a solid performance and Garrone’s direction is stylish enough to ensure that the movie always looks good. Some memorable supporting performances and atmosphere help too. Raro’s Blu-ray is a step above past DVD releases but sadly suffers from a few technical slips that result in a presentation that doesn’t look or sound as good as it probably could have. With that said, if you’re a fan of the film, this would seem to be the best version around.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      Yeah, this BD wasn't as bad as some early comments led you to believe. Not great but it is a step up from the old import dvd from Raro. I really like the vocal tune that plays at the end, "Non Mi Aspettavi Piu" sung by Franco Morselli. The rest of the score is average but that one is terrific. Not a top tier spagh but a worthy watch for the dedicated fan. Nicoletta Machiavelli is always a treat for the eyes too.