In the Spaghetti Western timeline, the year 1969 will always stand out, because during this year,surprisingly few Spaghetti Westerns were made. I like to call it a bridging year between the genres glory days and it's later twilight years. For example, most of the pre 1969 Spaghettis were the more well known and serious ones, with film's like the Dollars trilogy(1964-1966),ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST(1968)and THE BIG GUNDOWN(1966) giving the worn out western genre a new lease of life. But post 1969,the Spaghetti western novelty was beginning to wear off and the genre was becoming something of a joke,e.g with the Trinity films and the countless Django/Sartana spinoffs, the violent, brutal Spaghetti Western had died and the genre had been reduced to mostly cheaply made childish comedies in order for studios to make money.NO ROOM TO DIE was one of the Spaghettis made in 1969,a year when directors were unsure whether to make a serious, brooding film or a light-hearted one. The plot of this film is simple and doesn't take much explanation, two bounty hunters, Johnny Brandon(ANTHONY STEFFEN)and Everett Murdoch(WILLIAM BERGER)team up to catch a gang of outlaws who, under the pay of a corrupt banker, are smuggling illegal Mexican immigrants across the border where they are often exploited and taken advantage of. Murdoch is only interested in the money, but Brandon has a score to settle...
Being honest, I was a little disappointed with this film, it was pretty average and wasn't as good as I had expected. It failed to impress me but at the same time it isn't the worst Spaghetti Western, it's a decent and serviceable flick. The storyline is very good and it's a little different to your usual Spaghetti premise, but it's full of plot holes. Johnny Brandon spends the whole film highlighting that he is not going after the baddies for the money but in the end we never find out what motivated him in the first place and in the final scene he gives all the money to the Mexican girl and says "You know what it's for", this confused me because we in the audience don't and never do find out what it's for,I guess the director wanted to leave it to our imaginations, but he did a very bad job of it.There's also a terrible lack of character development, the Mexican girl is in some way involved with the villain, but we never find out how or why. There's also a couple of flashbacks involving the villain, showing him as a child and then showing him as an adult shooting some guys in a saloon, mind you, these flashbacks were brilliantly done, shot in black and white, but I couldn't understand what they were all about, they are never explained and just seem pointless and unconnected with the film. The scene at the beginning, just after the opening credits, in which a wagon full of Mexicans is pushed over a cliff was terribly done, all we see is the Mexican's horror stricken faces accompanied with some atrocious camera spinning followed by the wagon lying in pieces at the bottom, it would have been much better if they had shown the full wagon flying over the cliff and crashing to the bottom.
The film dragged quite a bit and was a little slow and tedious in parts with a fair few scenes of heavy dialogue. The action scenes were pretty good, I quite liked the shootouts but they all looked and seemed the same, making them kind of monotonous, they didn't really send me flying out of my chair, however I did enjoy watching all the stuntmen jerk about, fall of their horses and fall down hills as they got shot. The final duel/shootout between the villain,Murdoch and Brandon was suspenseful and did improve the film a little, look out for when Brandon shots Murdoch, the latter's facial expression is priceless. I though Murdoch's weapon of choice was awesome, it's a multiple barrelled Shotgun, similar to the one used by Richard Widmark in THE ALAMO(1960).The soundtrack was really good, there's a part of it that sounded to me like a tongue-in-cheek variation on the Dun-Dun-Dun thing, it's played at the beginning of most scenes or whenever someone appears to kill somebody and gives the film a rather comical feel. The acting and characters were good enough, Steffen and Berger were good as the two bounty hunters and I liked Mario Brega's character, they were interesting but just very poorly developed.
To conclude, I wasn't exactly thrilled by this one, I wouldn't say its one if my favourite SWs, but it certainly isn't the worst. Bad character development, plot holes and lack of soul in the action scenes brought it down, I was originally going to give it a 7/10,but I think I'll be kind and give it an 8.