high june: the five man army


THE FIVE MAN ARMY (1969) is a spaghetti western directed by Don Taylor who went on to direct ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) and DAMIEN: OMEN III (1978). The script was by Marc Richards and Dario Argento – who went on to direct THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMMAGE (1970) and become a master of horror and thrillers. The music was by Ennio Morricone. Do I have to list his filmography? We could be here all day. Let me just name three for you: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (1966), THE THING (1982), THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987). 


Peter Graves as The Dutchman

The odd-man who calls the shots as they heist a fortune in Mexican gold.

James Daly as Augustus

He gets a charge out of setting off dynamite with a good cigar. 

Bud Spencer as Mesito

He prefers to kill with his bare hands. 

Tetsuro Tamba as Samurai

He carves a place for himself . . . right through the Mexican army. 

Nino Castelnuovo as Luis

He attacks an armored train with a slingshot. 

Daniela Giordano as Maria

Carlo Alighiero as Captain Gutierrez

A soldier of fortune known as The Dutchman enlists the aid of four associates to help him rob $500,000 in gold on behalf of a Mexican revolutionary leader. He promises each of them $1,000 but they decide to go for all of it. 

First, they have to rescue the rebel leader from the Mexican Army. After accomplishing that they run away with some of the villagers but get caught anyway. One of the villagers, Maria, slips Samurai a knife. The five then manage to escape. Samurai rescues Maria from Captain Gutierrez before she is raped and leaves the captain with a very bad headache. On the run and being chased the five meet up with a group of rebels who agree to sacrifice themselves to delay the Mexican Army so they can complete their mission. This has an effect on the five. 

The gold is on a train that is heavily fortified with a cannon, machine guns, and lots and lots of soldiers. The Dutchman’s plan works despite some major setbacks such as Samurai falling off the train and having to run cross country to catch up, and Augustus dropping a piece of equipment and having to improvise. However, back at the hideout with the gold in their possession the five have a falling out. The others all assumed they were going to keep the gold, but The Dutchman is dead set on giving it to the rebels as agreed. 

Does The Dutchman get his way? Do the five shoot it out? What about the Mexican Army? What about the rebels? What about Maria? I’m afraid you’re going to have to watch the movie to get those answers. 

  • Don Taylor did not finish directing this film. Dario Argento directed some scenes uncredited. 
  • This film’s English dub is the first, and one of very few, where Bud Spencer provides his own voice.


  • Not exactly academy award winning performances by the supporting cast. The leads are fine but the others are amateurish. 
  • Comes across a bit like a poor man’s Magnificent Seven. Maybe they should have added two more guys. 


  • As spaghetti westerns go not bad. Okay, it ain’t no ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968) but it ain’t NAVAJO JOE (1966) either. 
  • Every once in a while, I have to be reminded that Peter Graves did a lot more than MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1966-1973) and was damn good in everything he did. 
  • This movie has Bud Spencer – enough said!
  • Tetsuro Tamba plays Samurai. I remember him from the James Bond movie YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE(1967) two years earlier where he played Tiger Tanaka. 
  • The music is by Ennio Morricone. Try to argue with that. 
  • Most movies have a romantic subplot and this one is no exception. However, in this case the romance is between Samurai and Maria. That was cool! 

Okay, I really like this movie and I refuse to apologize for it. Yes, I know it is a spaghetti western – so what! It’s got a great cast with actors I have seen and loved in plenty of other films. It’s got Ennio Morricone music. It’s got a plot that actually makes sense. It’s got Ennio Morricone music. The suspense is great. It’s got Ennio Morricone music. And like any good spaghetti western you walk away having laughed when supposed to, cried when supposed to, and cheered when supposed to. Did I mention it has Ennio Morricone music!

It should come as no surprise that I recommend this movie. If you like spaghetti westerns check this one out. If you like shoot ‘em up westerns check this one out. If you like to lose yourself for a couple of hours in the old west, definitely check this one out. By the way, I saw it for free on Daily Motion. 

It is with great glee that I give this film four gray geeks. And I’m happy to do it. 

I have the greatest job in the world. I get to watch, read, play and then share what I’ve done with all of you. That is paradise. But that is also why it is so hard to say good-bye. I take comfort in knowing I’ll be back, and you will be here with me. Hasta la vista mis amigos! 

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