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Il Grande Silenzio

The Great Silence
Le Grand Silence / Leichen pflastern seinen Weg / The Big Silence

Italy/France 1968
produced by
Adelphia Comagnia Cinematografica
directed by Sergio Corbucci
starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Luigi Pistilli, Vonetta McGee, Mario Brega, Carlo D'Angelo, Marisa Merlini, Maria Mizar, Marisa Sally, Raf Baldasarre, Spartaco Conversi, Remo De Angelis, Mirella Pamphili, Loris Loddi
written by Sergio Corbucci, Bruno Corbucci, Mario Amendola, Vittoriano Petrilli, music by Ennio Morricone, conducted by Bruno Nicolai

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Utah, winter 1896: A large part of the population is impoverished and has turned to stealing simply to stay alive. However, there are always those who profit from a situation like this, and here it's the bounty hunters who kill those who are declared bandits by the law (mostly corrupt judges) and then cash them in at the next sheriff. There are laws to be installed against the bounty hunters, but they are yet to be enforced ...

The bandits though have one who avenges them, Silence (Jean-Louis Trintignant), whose parents have been killed by bounty hunters and he got his throat slit so he can't talk anymore - and it is Silence's trick to always provoke the other to draw first and then shoot him in self defense (since Silence is the quickest draw in the West), always in front of witnesses ... so legally, he is an innocent man.

One day, Pauline's (Vonetta McGee) husband is killed by Tigrero (Klaus Kinski), a particularly ruthless, borderline psychotic bounty killer, and she asks Silence for help. Silence arrives in town by the same coach Tigrero is not only travelling by but he also uses to carry his corpses. - and Tigrero has a very special weakness for this little city here, mainly because the local judge, Pollicut (Luigi Pistilli) is especially corrupt andlawless. Incidently, Pollicut was exactly the man who slit Silence's throat as a child, and whose thumb Silence years later shot off in a gunfight so Pollicut can never shoot a pistol again ...

Silence does his best to provoke Tigrero, but Tigrero is much too slick to fall for Silence's little tricks - heck, he ven takes off his gunbelt to not be tempted. Then though, the two men get into a fight, and when Silence shoots all of Tigrero's friends in self defense and throws Tigrero into the snow and hands him his gun, Tigrero is tempted to draw ... but doesn't have the chance because the Sheriff (Frank Wolff), the second fastest draw in the West and a staunch enemy of all bountykillers, shoots the gun right out of his hand and arrests him on the spot.

However, the Sheriff might be a quick draw, but trying to bring Tigrero to the next court singlehandedly proves to be too much for him, as Tigrero has guns hidden at various spots along the way and ultimately drives him onto a frozen lake before taking a few shots at the ice to make it break beneath the Sheriff's feet - and the beauty of it is, the Sheriff won't be found until spring if ever ...

Then Tigrero heads back to the little village where Silence is waiting for him, but Silence has since received a little visit from Pollicut and his henchman and got badly wounded (while the other two got killed) and his right hand smashed ... and now Pauline has her hands full to hide him from Tigrero and his men.

At the same time, some bandits (the poor who have to resort to stealing) come to town because the (now deceased) Sheriff has given them a honest promise to let them have a wagonload of supplies - now the Sheriff is no more, but Tigrero and his men are, using the wagon as bait to catch the bandits and the bandits as bait to catch Silence ... whom they shoot fair and square in the bleak showdown because he for once has lost his cool and has tried to draw first. Then the bounty killers shoot Pauline and their hostages too, all in the name of the law ...


In his days, Sergio Corbucci has made many inferior films, inside and outside the Western genre, but he has also directed a handful of undisputed classics, and Il Grande Silenzio is maybe (and arguably) the greatest of them all, a haunting piece of genre cinema filmed almost entirely in the snow (the outside scenes that is), which makes the film look atypical for the genre, and presenting many genre mainstays in a very cynical light. And Klaus Kinski is at his maddest (and most menacing) as the slick Tigrero, giving no less than a milestone performance, while Jean-Louis Trintignant, one of the greats of French cinema, makes the most out of the role of the stoic avenger who isn't even allowed to talk.


By the way, a happy ending to this film was indeed (as in I have seen it) filmed in which Silence is able to work his right hand with a glove of metal and a fellow gunman comes to his aide too, and the two gun down all the bounty hunters and free the hostages - and you know what, that ending would have pretty much ruined the whole movie.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD