Father Miller (Guy Madison) is a priest and ex-bounty hunter. He has returned to Tucson much Sheriff Donovan’s (Richard Harrison) dismay and he tells the sheriff he is there to build a church. His arrival causes quite a stir as most think he is still Miller Colt the bounty hunter and they are unaware of his new vocation. When a ruthless gang of outlaws–aren’t they all?–robs the local bank gunning down the banker in the process. The priest goes to check on the man and then the townsfolk mob up and try to lynch him as the killer. Never mind he is a priest they want him to hang. The sheriff rounds up a posse to track the gang and leaves the threatened priest under protective arrest in care of Deputy Hop (Nino Marchetti). After several unsuccessful attempts to track the raiders, he decides to turn loose the bounty hunting man of God knowing that the gang will soon be tracked down.
He saves a wagon train led by Colonel Charles Jackson C.S.A. (Alfonso Rojas) from the marauders by shooting sharp and taking hats off of heads and rifles out of hands with precisely placed rounds. Though handy with a gun, he accidentally killed a child as he shot down the men who murdered his father. He then took on the cloth vowing never to kill again. He leads the group to an abandoned fort where the they hole up to fight off the gang. With little water and low on ammunition the priest and those he protects are facing dire consequences but they have found an unlikely ally in the wounded raider Gary (Steven Tedd). The robbers are after the Colonel’s regimental treasure and they are determined to outlast the parched settlers as they run out of water in the fort. One of the men is able to escape and secure help promising them a cut of the Colonel’s treasure and as things come to a head the settlers and the priest must face off against the gang’s evil leader (Ennio Girolami).
A by the numbers stranger/savior western, Girolami injects humor with a Scottish character who survives Wile E. Coyote like disasters and with Deputy Hop escorting people to church at rifle point. The acting is pretty average with Richard Harrison doing quite well in his extremely limited role and Guy Madison is calm and easy as the gun slinging padre. The action is intense with shoot outs and brawls but it is low on the blood. It seems the budget may not have allotted for squibs. Director Marino Girolami, father of Enzo G. Castelleri and Ennio Girolami, is the director though the credits indicate León Klimovsky. The character of Miller Colt being the reluctant gunfighter and hopeful preacher foreshadows that of the nameless Preacher from PALE RIDER.
This one may be better known as SON OF DJANGO or RETURN OF DJANGO, even though Django is gunned down before his son thirty seconds into the film. Gabrielle Tinti (husband of Laura Gemser…) plays Jeff Tracy–the son of Django! The film opens with a couple shootouts involving people such as Logan (Roberto Messina), Clint and someone named Bill. Clint and Bill don’t matter much because they are shot down before the viewer has any clue what’s going on. There’s a Frenchman, Four Aces (Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia) the cardsharp, who helps Jeff escape and tries to recruit him to fight in a range war between a major rancher, Clay Ferguson (Daniele Vargas) and Thompson (Ignazio Spalla) is uniting the other ranchers in the county. Thompson has hired the Logan who is a gun hand, and Four Aces who are recruiting fighters to Thompson’s side. This has split the town of Topeka right down the middle as people choose up sides.
Thompson was a rancher and Clay was his old foreman. They now wage a bitter feud vying to control the land surrounding the town. The ruthless Clay is basically charging protection trying to bully other ranchers out of the range so he can claim their land. The sheriff turns a blind eye because he does not want to get involved unless he loses his office and his life. The fighting has gotten so out of hand that the cemetery is populated with combatants from the spat. It’s so bad the old preacher left which brings an unknown element into town as the new priest, Father Fleming (Guy Madison) rides into town calmly sizing up the fighters as they brawl in the street. It turns out the new padre was partners with Django and was every bit as handy with a piece as the fallen gunman. Things aren’t stacking up too well for Clay in Topeka.
Clay grows tired of dragging things out and orders an assault on one of the ranches killing everyone there and burning it to the ground. His next move is to lure Tracy into a trap and beat the hell out of him trying to get him to leave town. Father Fleming tracks him to the barn and saves him from further beating. This forces the gunman more in line with Thompson though he acts independently in assaulting the land baron in his saloon. Tracy tangles with Clay and a bunch of his men as Clay awaits the arrival of his gunmen from out of town. Father Fleming turns the riders back and makes a ready for a fight as Clay’s men regroup and try again. The cowardly sheriff is galvanized into action by the gun slinging priest’s desperate stand and the two men protect Tracy’s back as he tries to deal with Clay for once and for all.
The final shootout is fantastic. Epic as all final showdowns tend to be in Italowesterns. The story is fairly sparse and by the numbers. Two competing land barons, a righteous lone gunman seeking vengeance, yadda yadda and then shoehorn the name Django in there somewhere to try to get folks to go see it. Ultimately the story is mostly forgettable with the exception of the pistol packing priest. The part is made memorable by Guy Madison who must have been the Bing Crosby of priestly gunmen in Italy. We need a badass preacher…how about Guy Madison? The vistas are scenic though the way the picture was shot they seem rather small instead of sprawling or vast. The film also includes a catchy tune with The Return of Django…not really catching so much as ridiculous…here’s a sample: “They call him Django, a man of high degree. A man of honor…” An acceptable film if you are a fan of spaghetti westerns. Check em out.
The Wild East double feature includes trailers for other Guy Madison films though the trailers are in a variety of languages: REVEREND COLT (Italian), VIVA GRINGO (German), THIS MAN CAN’T DIE (English), PAYMENT IN BLOOD (lacks dialogue), APACHE’S LAST BATTLE (English and refers to the film as SHATTERHAND), GUNMEN OF THE RIO GRANDE (English). Each film also has an alternate opening and still gallery.