Los asesinos

[The Killers]

(Filmica Vergara Cinecomisiones, 1967)

Prod: Luis Enrique Vergara; Dir: Jaime Salvador; Adapt: Federico Curiel, Ramón Obón; Story: Ramón Obón Jr.; Photo: Alfredo Uribe; Music Dir: Gustavo César Carreón; Prod Mgr: Jesús Fragoso; Asst Dir: J.Luis González; Film Ed: J. Juan Munguía; Art Dir: Octavio Ocampo, José Méndez; Camera Op: Carlos Morales; Makeup: Maria Eugenia Luna; Rec/Re-Rec: Heinrich Henkel; Dialog Rec: J. Joaquín Jiménez; Union: STIC

Cast: Nick Adams (Shannon), Regina Torné (Ángela Nelson), Pedro Armendáriz [Jr.] (Talbot), Amadee Chabot (Sara), Elsa Cárdenas (Linda Foster), Andrés García (Joseph Nelson), Carlos East (Víctor Ebron), Chuck Anderson (Silas Cuper), Pancho Córdoba (Tom Foster), Juan Gallardo (sheriff), Manuel Dondé (murdered man), José Eduardo Pérez (Ringo), Raúl Pérez Prieto, Alfonso Munguía (Adam Nelson), Tito Novaro (Hill Carter), Guillermo Ayala, Alí Junco, Roberto Iglesias, Felipe del Castillo, Enriqueta Carrasco (murdered woman), Juan Garza (Víctor's henchman), René Barrera (Víctor's henchman), José Dupeyrón (Víctor's henchman), Ignacio Ballalvage, Ernesto Juárez, Carlos D. Ortigosa

Notes: this was probably the last film of actor Nick Adams (Fever Heat, shot in Iowa, was his last U.S.-lensed picture), who died on 7 February 1968, about two weeks after production of Los asesinos concluded (the filming took an unusual five weeks, but one source says Adams did not arrive in Mexico until January 1968). The movie is notable for a pretty impressive cast and for Adams' brief but blatant imitation of Clint Eastwood (in his opening and closing scenes Adams wears a purple poncho and smokes a cigar). Adams and Chabot clearly spoke English and were dubbed for the Mexican release, and the presence of bi-lingual players such as Torné, Armendáriz Jr., and East suggests an English version was made but I haven't seen any evidence it was released. Oddly enough, Chuck Anderson was apparently post-dubbed but his lip movements indicate he was speaking Spanish.

Silas Cuper, a henchman of the Nelson family which controls Golden City, has been arrested by the town sheriff. He refuses to inform on his employers, and is scheduled to be transported to another town for trial. However, the Nelsons ambush the stagecoach and outriders, killing everyone but Cuper. Later, Víctor Ebron and his gang decide to collect the $10,000 reward for Cuper, and visit Golden City for a showdown with the Nelsons, who are hiding Cuper. The Nelsons have been forcing local residents to sign over their gold claims, and Cuper is the front man whose name is on the deeds.

Among the few decent residents of Golden City are Tom Foster and his daughter Linda, who operate the local saloon and general store. Shannon, a stranger to town, stops in the saloon; hearing a disturbance from the store, he goes in and rescues Sara, Cuper's girlfriend, from three of Víctor's men, killing one of them in the process.

Víctor's gang and the Nelsons' gang clash numerous times. Shannon does not favor either group; he saves Linda from two more of Víctor's henchmen, but she's later kidnaped and taken to the gang's hideout. Silas tries to blow up the shack but is captured by Shannon, who intends to turn him in to the authorities, but Shannon has to let the outlaw go and rescue Linda. Víctor and his gang free Linda but then beat Shannon to a pulp and leave him tied to a bundle of dynamite, the fuse lit. Tom rescues Shannon and takes him back to town. Víctor's men kill Carter, the crooked Mines Registration official who works for the Nelson family. A gunfight between the two groups breaks out in town; Víctor and Joseph Nelson face off in the saloon, but Shannon steps in and shoots Víctor. The rest of Víctor's gang is wiped out. Silas Cuper tries to abscond with the mine deeds, and the Nelsons attempt to kill him; Shannon and Tom Foster fight back against the Nelson family. Silas is wounded and his sweetheart Sara is shot to death. Shannon finally takes dynamite and blows up the building in which the Nelsons have taken refuge. He takes Silas prisoner--informing him that the sheriff who died early in the movie was his friend-and departs.

Los asesinos isn't dull by any means, with almost non-stop fist-fights, gunfights, explosions, and so forth. The production values aren't much better than a TV Western or a decent B-movie, but the Western town set and outdoor locations are good enough, and while Jaime Salvador is not a particularly stylish director, his work is adequate here (varying widely, however, from boring and static interior scenes in medium-long shot to the occasional "arty" bit, such as the ground-level angle used for Ángela Nelson's death scene in the dirt of the town street).

The performances vary. Nick Adams, looking rather worn out and greasy (and sporting an unflattering comb-over), speaks in monosyllables and isn't a very impressive hero, although he does handle the action scenes in a satisfactory manner. Adams had not had much luck personally or professionally in the years prior to Los asesinos (his career peak was probably the "The Rebel" TV series, which lasted two years--in Los asesinos, he uses a sawed-off shotgun similar to the one "Johnny Yuma" used in the series) and this may have had an impact on his face, which is no longer youthful or boyish. Amadee Chabot has a fair amount of footage but her character is never clearly defined--she shrewishly complains to Silas, flirts with Shannon, but then runs to Silas's side in the gunfight, just in time to stop a bullet. Elsa Cárdenas (who also sounds dubbed) has a thankless role, but Pancho Córdoba is pretty good, as are East, Armendáriz, Anderson, and Torné. Andrés García has almost no scenes or dialogue (until the final sequences) in a pretty minor role.

A fairly entertaining but routine Western.

NOTE: this was remade in 1989 as Pleito de colosos, apparently released only on video. Amedee Chabot's role was taken by Anais de Melo.

Updated 29 June 2005 by dwilt@NOSPAMumd.edu (Remove NOSPAM to email me)

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