Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

'Beyond the Law' is not beyond boring

Beyond the Law (aka "Bloodsilver") (1968)
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Antonio Sabato, Lionel Stander, Bud Spencer, and Gordon Mitchell
Director: Georgio Stegani
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

When master-thief Billy Joe Cudlip (Van Cleef) and his cohorts decide to rob a silver mine of its payroll, a series of events lands Cudlip in the position of town sheriff. As he settles into the job, he develops respect for the honest, townsfolk, and he starts to want more than just life as a thief. But his partners are still bent on committing the heist, and things go from bad to worse when murderous bandits, led by the psychopathic Burton (Mitchell), come to rob a silver shipment.

"Beyond the Law" in an interesting film in that it features actors in types of roles that we're not use to seeing them in. Lee Van Cleef plays a through-and-through good guy in this film (despite his larcenous tendencies as the story starts), and Bud Spenser doesn't throw a single punch during the entire movie; in fact, he's hard to recognize without his beard and usual scruffy appearance.

Unfortunately, the film features from a script that is focused in all the wrong places--for example, Van Cleef's character makes a transformation from ever-scheming thief to a man who feels loyalty and protectiveness toward the citizens of the mining-town, something which would have made for interesting viewing, but which happens between scenes--and the middle section is padded more heavily than the middle-section of a longhaul trucker who loves beer too much.

At a few points in the film--such as when Cudlip and his partners make their presence known in the film for the first time, when Burton takes the town's women and children hostage in order to get the silver shipment, and the shoot-out--gives us glimpses of the excellent movie "Beyond the Law" could have been if the script had gone through another draft or two, and if the director had given the film more substance and less filler. As it stands, however, this is a sub-standard spaghetti western that's more boring than entertaining.

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