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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » A Minute To Pray, a Second To Die! (Blu-ray)
A Minute To Pray, a Second To Die! (Blu-ray)
Kl Studio Classics // R // August 28, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Stuart Galbraith IV | posted August 28, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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Let's dispense with this one quickly, shall we? A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! (Un minute per pregare, un instante per moire (1968) is a terrible Spaghetti Western with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It's the kind of Euro-Western that gave the sub-genre a bad name: audiences who flocked to the best Spaghettis by Sergio Leone and others stumbled upon titles like these at their local drive-ins and avoided them in the future.

Selmur Pictures, a division of the ABC television network, apparently co-financed it, primarily as fodder for their primetime movie schedule. Cinerama Releasing Corporation distributed it theatrically, the problem-plagued organization that until recently had exclusively distributed and sometimes produced big scale pictures for their 70mm Cinerama theaters, decided to release ordinary movies between their big roadshows, and A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! was the first of their mostly forgettable partnership with Selmur/ABC.

Kino's Blu-ray does in its favor offer an excellent looking high-def transfer. Too bad the picture's so lousy.

American actor Alex Cord, fresh from playing John Wayne's star-enhancing role in the misbegotten remake of Stagecoach (1968), stars. He plays notorious outlaw Clay McCord, on the lam with devoted partner Fred Duskin (Giampiero Albertini). Bounty hunters are coming out of the woodwork looking for the elusive McCord, who seems unconcerned.

McCord is suffering from an unpredictably uncontrollable gun hand, which he fears may be related somehow to epilepsy or worse. Fred begs him to see a doctor, but instead the two part company and McCord winds up in the town of Escondido, where Tuscosa Marshal Roy W. Colby (Arthur Kennedy) is promising amnesty for all outlaws, an apparently magnanimous gesture on the part of New Mexico Governor Lem Carter (Robert Ryan in a small role). McCord trusts neither Colby nor his chances in town, where the bounty hunters are all scrambling to make one last big score.

Former Leone assistant Franco Giraldi directed, the last of his four Westerns, the first of which, Seven Guns for the MacGregors (1966), his directorial debut, is fairly well know, possibly more for its score by Ennio Morricone than the film. (I've not seen it.) In its defense, A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! was cut by 16 minutes for its U.S. release (the Blu-ray is of the cut U.S. version), and its ending was changed. However, even in this form the film is pretty awful, resembling as it does a cheap TV-movie. Oftentimes Spaghettis like these blatantly imitated Leone (like Once Upon a Time in the West, this script has flashbacks to a traumatic event when McCord was a boy), but this film has no sense of style at all. It's not even a cheap imitation.

Despite the presence of great character actors Kennedy and Ryan, nothing in the film is original or interesting. Clay McCord is just an outlaw, neither sympathetic nor amusingly sardonic. The audience has no interest in what happens to him, and what happens is of no interest. The picture shares some plot elements with The Great Silence, the bleakest of Spaghetti Westerns but that wasn't released until six months later, and thus not an influence. Yet where The Great Silence explores the lives of bounty hunters, the politics of offering outlaws amnesty, etc., A Minute to Pray has no shading, no depth anywhere, just point and shoot.

Video & Audio

A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! was shot for 1.85:1 presentation. Only the shorter, English-dubbed version is offered, but it looks near pristine, with only minor print damage here and there, and the color is notably strong. The DTS-HD Master Audio (mono) is also well above average. No subtitles are offered on this region "A" encoded disc.

Extra Features

Supplements include an audio commentary by director and Spaghetti Western authority Alex Cox, whose comments also accompany the "extended international ending."

Parting Thoughts

As a fan of this Western sub-genre, I'd rank A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! in the bottom 10% of Euro-Westerns. Despite its cast, there's really nothing to recommend it. Skip It instead.






Stuart Galbraith IV is the Kyoto-based film historian largely absent from reviewing these days while he restores a 200-year-old Japanese farmhouse.

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