23rd Jul2015

‘Cemetery Without Crosses’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf


A Spaghetti Western with a French director and star may seem an odd combination, but this is exactly what we get with Cemetery Without Crosses aka The Rope and the Colt. Inspired by the success of the Dollars trilogy and dedicated to Sergio Leone, this is yet another addition to the Arrow Video classic releases.

After a family of Bandits lynches her husband, Maria Caine (Michèle Mercier) turns to old an old friend Manuel (Robert Hossein) to exact her revenge. At first reluctant to help, he finally gives in, donning his black glove and infiltrating the family to force a showdown between them and Caine which may just lead to all of their dooms.

Directed by and starring Robert Hossein, the first thing that makes the Western stand out is the catchy theme song sung by Scott Walker. The lynching this leads into sets up the revenge and leads us to the introduction of Manuel, our anti-hero. An interesting character, he seems almost peaceful before he sticks on the glove, almost like donning a mask, this is what he hides behind when he does his evil deeds. Almost an iconic image in the film and used so well in others too just putting on the glove is an act of intimidation which puts fear into his foes and is the sign to the audience that Manuel is aiming to kill.

Manuel may be the weapon of vengeance in Cemetery Without Crosses, but the characters with real strength in the film are the female characters. They may be the victims in many of the scenes and pushed into the “Damsel in Distress” role but both Mercier’s Caine and Joanna (Anne-Marie Balin) are the catalysts for the actions that take place. These women have the real strength, even if pushed into victim roles. It is the end result of their actions which show their true power.

Cemetery Without Crosses is an interesting Western with a style that does make it differ from other so-called Spaghetti Westerns. With Dario Argento as the co-writer and a scene directed by Sergio Leone, the Italian influence is still strong. Leone’s scene for example, the dinner scene at the Rogers house is impressive for its feeling of tension as Manuel waits for something that feels inevitable, though it isn’t what he expects. In a scene with many characters, our focus is directed to the important characters, especially the introduction of Joanna.

Looking at the picture quality for Cemetery Without Crosses for the most part it is impressive, but with the scenes where the dust of the Western towns there is aging present on the screen. I assume it is the level of dust that takes up the screen, the complexity of trying to improve how sand and dust look while flowing through the air can’t be easy to improve, and would be very costly (I assume.)

With special features focusing on Robert Hossein and his memories of the film, there is a lack of extras on the disc, but even without them, it does not diminish the quality of the release. An interestingly toned Spaghetti Western with a darker edge than most, if you are a fan of this style of Italian cinema, this is well worth a buy.

***** 5/5

Cemetery Without Crosses is available on Dual Format DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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