Also known as: Vamos a matar, compañeros, lit. Let’s Go and Kill, Companions (Spain)
Release Date: December 18th, 1970 (Italy)
Directed by: Sergio Corbucci
Written by: Dino Maiuri, Massimo De Rita, Fritz Ebert, Sergio Corbucci
Music by: Ennio Morricone
Cast: Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Jack Palance, Fernando Rey, Iris Berben, Francisco Bodalo, Edoardo Fajardo
Tritone Filmindustria Roma S.r.l., Atlantida Film S.A., Terra-Filmkunst, Titanus Distribuzione, GSF Productions , 119 Minutes (Italy), 115 Minutes (US)
Sergio Corbucci made a spiritual successor to The Mercenary with Compañeros. And like that film, it is a Zapata western starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance. The one main difference is that this film adds in Tomas Milian. It is also the only time that spaghetti western greats Nero and Milian acted together.
It follows Nero, a Swedish arms dealer into Mexico. He develops a rivalry quickly with Milian, a peasant rebel. Both are then forced together for political means and sent to capture a professor from the enemy. They then cross paths with Jack Palance, who is a sinister character with a wooden hand and a pet hawk he uses to track people in the wilderness. They capture the professor and get caught up with the true revolutionaries, which alters the course of the main characters’ lives.
The film is one of the best spaghetti westerns out there but Corbucci was a master only surpassed by Sergio Leone. Now this isn’t Corbucci’s best but it is great, nonetheless.
The only issue I have with the film, is that it is too similar to The Mercenary, which Corbucci did two years prior. It looks the same, features almost the same cast in almost the same roles and treads the same political territory. It is a very romanticized tale about revolution, influenced by the story of Che Guevara, who Corbucci was greatly affected by.
But in regards to Jack Palance’s character John, it is one of my absolute favorite Palance roles of all-time. Between the wooden hand, the weirdly dubbed voice and his relationship with his bird, it was a performance for the ages.
Additionally, this film features one of my favorite theme songs ever, which was done by Ennio Morricone.
And a Corbucci-Nero team up isn’t complete without Franco Nero blasting dozens of enemies with a giant machine gun. Luckily for us, that happens twice in this movie.