The Mercenary


1h 45m 1970
The Mercenary

Brief Synopsis

An idealistic patriot hires a gunman to lead the fight against a crooked mine-owner.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Il mercenario, Salario para matar
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Western
Action
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 6 Mar 1970
Production Company
P. E. A.; Produzioni Associate Delphos; Profilms 21
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy
Location
Spain

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Bill Douglas, a mercenary during the Mexican Revolution, is hired by mine owner Garcia to escort his silver across the border into Texas. When Bill arrives at the mine, he discovers that the workers, led by Eufemio, have taken over, and they hire Bill to help them fight the Federales. The Mexican soldiers arrive to recover the mine, and Bill slaughters them with his machine gun. Ricciolo, another mercenary, thinks that Bill has a hidden cache of silver and captures him, but Eufemio and his men rescue him, leaving Ricciolo naked in the desert. Eufemio and Bill then form a partnership in which they travel around the country robbing banks and freeing peasants from the Federales. During one of their missions, Eufemio meets and soon marries a young woman named Columba, under whose influence he becomes dedicated to the revolution. Meanwhile, Bill has become wealthy from the robberies, and Eufemio and Columba decide to expropriate Bill's money for the revolution and throw him in jail. Garcia and the Mexican soldiers, tipped off by Ricciolo, attack and defeat the revolutionaries, but Eufemio and Bill escape separately. Some months later, Bill recognizes Eufemio working as a rodeo clown; Ricciolo also appears, swearing revenge on Eufemio. Bill sets up a duel between the two men, and Ricciolo is killed. Afterwards, Bill tells Eufemio that he is going to turn him in for the bounty money, but the Federales again attack and capture them both. A band of revolutionaries, led by Columba, rescue them, and after one last fight, the two men go their separate ways.

Film Details

Also Known As
Il mercenario, Salario para matar
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Western
Action
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 6 Mar 1970
Production Company
P. E. A.; Produzioni Associate Delphos; Profilms 21
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy
Location
Spain

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 45m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

The Mercenary


Centuries ago when most of Europe's artists were making heavily stylized work, the Italians tried to capture real life in their paintings and sculptures. The fascination with realism has been such a constant thread in Italian culture that perhaps nobody should have been surprised when Italian Westerns turned out to be more down-to-earth and less idealized than those made by Americans. Heroes in spaghetti Westerns are more likely to be motivated by money than idealism or revenge than forgiveness. You can see the dirt and sweat and blood like never before.

A fine example is The Mercenary (1968) which injects a welcome dose of humor into its story. The mercenary of the title (played by Franco Nero) gets tangled in a struggle of exploited miners against a nasty mine owner (Eduardo Fajardo) and his even nastier henchman (Jack Palance). Taking the side of the miners is a charismatic freedom fighter (Tony Musante) who tries to convince the mercenary to join their side. (The Mercenary has also been released under the title A Professional Gun.)

The Mercenary was one of the few Westerns directed by cult figure Sergio Corbucci; critic Phil Hardy called it his best film. You can see his Navajo Joe (1966) on TCM June 23rd, but Corbucci's Django (1966) and The Grand Silence (1968) are some of the best-known Italian films of the 60s and 70s. Like so many other Italian directors of the period, Corbucci was a film critic before moving into the director's chair in 1951, a background not unlike the originators of the French New Wave movement. He also wrote gags for various Italian comedies which is perhaps one reason his own films avoid the trap of becoming too serious. Corbucci worked constantly until his death in 1990 (a few days short of his 63rd birthday) with over 60 features to his credit, including sword-and-sandal epics, Westerns, Italian-style comedies and straight dramas. Corbucci used star Franco Nero in several films, even claiming that Nero was to him what Henry Fonda was to John Ford. Nero himself has never lacked for work; in addition to a hundred or so Italian films (including five in 1999 alone) he can also be seen in Die Hard 2 (1990) and Fassbinder's Querelle (1982).

Producer: Alberto Grimaldi, Francesco Merli
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Screenplay: Giorgio Arlorio (story), Adriano Bolzoni, Sergio Corbucci, Franco Solinas (story), Sergio Spina, Luciano Vincenzoni
Art Direction: Piero Filippone
Cinematography: Alejandro Ulloa
Costume Design: Jurgen Henze
Film Editing: Eugenio Alabiso
Original Music: Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai
Principal Cast: Franco Nero (Kowalski), Jack Palance (Ricciolo), Tony Musante (Eufemio), Giovanna Ralli (Columba), Franco Giacobini (Pepote), Eduardo Fajardo (Alfonso Garcia), Raf Baldassarre (Mateo).
C-105m. Letterboxed.

By Lang Thompson
The Mercenary

The Mercenary

Centuries ago when most of Europe's artists were making heavily stylized work, the Italians tried to capture real life in their paintings and sculptures. The fascination with realism has been such a constant thread in Italian culture that perhaps nobody should have been surprised when Italian Westerns turned out to be more down-to-earth and less idealized than those made by Americans. Heroes in spaghetti Westerns are more likely to be motivated by money than idealism or revenge than forgiveness. You can see the dirt and sweat and blood like never before. A fine example is The Mercenary (1968) which injects a welcome dose of humor into its story. The mercenary of the title (played by Franco Nero) gets tangled in a struggle of exploited miners against a nasty mine owner (Eduardo Fajardo) and his even nastier henchman (Jack Palance). Taking the side of the miners is a charismatic freedom fighter (Tony Musante) who tries to convince the mercenary to join their side. (The Mercenary has also been released under the title A Professional Gun.) The Mercenary was one of the few Westerns directed by cult figure Sergio Corbucci; critic Phil Hardy called it his best film. You can see his Navajo Joe (1966) on TCM June 23rd, but Corbucci's Django (1966) and The Grand Silence (1968) are some of the best-known Italian films of the 60s and 70s. Like so many other Italian directors of the period, Corbucci was a film critic before moving into the director's chair in 1951, a background not unlike the originators of the French New Wave movement. He also wrote gags for various Italian comedies which is perhaps one reason his own films avoid the trap of becoming too serious. Corbucci worked constantly until his death in 1990 (a few days short of his 63rd birthday) with over 60 features to his credit, including sword-and-sandal epics, Westerns, Italian-style comedies and straight dramas. Corbucci used star Franco Nero in several films, even claiming that Nero was to him what Henry Fonda was to John Ford. Nero himself has never lacked for work; in addition to a hundred or so Italian films (including five in 1999 alone) he can also be seen in Die Hard 2 (1990) and Fassbinder's Querelle (1982). Producer: Alberto Grimaldi, Francesco Merli Director: Sergio Corbucci Screenplay: Giorgio Arlorio (story), Adriano Bolzoni, Sergio Corbucci, Franco Solinas (story), Sergio Spina, Luciano Vincenzoni Art Direction: Piero Filippone Cinematography: Alejandro Ulloa Costume Design: Jurgen Henze Film Editing: Eugenio Alabiso Original Music: Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai Principal Cast: Franco Nero (Kowalski), Jack Palance (Ricciolo), Tony Musante (Eufemio), Giovanna Ralli (Columba), Franco Giacobini (Pepote), Eduardo Fajardo (Alfonso Garcia), Raf Baldassarre (Mateo). C-105m. Letterboxed. By Lang Thompson

Quotes

Dream, Paco, but dream with your eyes open.
- Kowalski aka the Pole

Trivia

Notes

Released in Italy in 1968 as Il mercenario; in Spain in 1970 as Salario para matar; running time: 111 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Techniscope

Released in United States 1970