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In the annals of cinematic history, “A Long Ride From Hell,” unleashed upon the world in 1968, stands as the denouement of Steve Reeves’ illustrious film career. Derived from Gordon D. Shirreffs’ novel “Judas Gun,” this western opus not only transplanted Reeves into a different cinematic milieu but also heralded a significant chapter in his decision to bid adieu to the world of filmmaking.
The narrative of Reeves’ cinematic voyage unfolds with intriguing twists. His decision to rebuff a role in the seminal “Fistful of Dollars,” an epochal film that ultimately propelled Clint Eastwood to the zenith of western stardom, is a noteworthy turn of events. Reeves’ refusal stemmed from a prevailing belief that Italians were incapable of producing quality western films – a conviction he would later find himself challenging.
The seismic impact of Clint Eastwood’s triumphs in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns, particularly “A Fistful of Dollars,” reverberated across the cinematic landscape. Reeves, attuned to the evolving currents of the genre, chose to finance and produce “A Long Ride From Hell.” Regrettably, the film failed to attain the pinnacle of success that Eastwood’s works enjoyed, casting a profound shadow over Reeves’ cinematic trajectory.
In the tapestry of “A Long Ride From Hell,” Steve Reeves embodies the character of Mike Sturges, a cowboy ensnared in a nightmarish web of false accusations and unjust incarceration. Falsely implicated in a train robbery, Mike and his younger brother, Roy, find themselves sentenced to the harsh confines of Yuma Penitentiary. Their sojourn in prison becomes a crucible of suffering and injustice, setting the stage for an epic tale of vengeance and redemption.
Mike’s escape from the clutches of captivity serves as the fulcrum for a riveting narrative of retribution against those who had wronged him and his brother. “A Long Ride From Hell” becomes a symphony of resilience, determination, and an unwavering pursuit of justice, all set against the unforgiving backdrop of the Old West.
For Steve Reeves, renowned for his mythological and historical epics, this film marked a departure into uncharted territory. His portrayal of the iconic Hercules, while celebrated, finds an intriguing counterpoint in “A Long Ride From Hell,” showcasing Reeves’ versatility as an actor venturing into the unexplored horizons of the western genre.
Regrettably, the commercial fortunes of the film did not align with expectations. Recognizing the shifting tides within the film industry, Reeves, with a discerning eye, opted to retire from filmmaking. “A Long Ride From Hell” thereby etched itself as a poignant chapter in the narrative of Steve Reeves’ career, serving not only as a capstone to his cinematic journey but also as a testament to his enduring passion for the arts and his unwavering willingness to take creative risks, even in the twilight of his illustrious career.
Steve Reeves – Mike Sturges
Wayde Preston – Marlin Mayner
Guido Lollobrigida – Deputy Sheriff Harry
Domenico Palmara – Sheriff Max Freeman
Silvana Venturelli – Ruth Harper
Giovanni Pazzafini – Bill Savage
Ivan Scratuglia – Roy Sturges
Rosalba Neri – Encarnacion
Spartaco Conversi – Bobcat Bates
Franco Balducci – Mason
Bruno Corazzari – Shorty
Franco Fantasia – Castleman
Aldo Sambrell – Mexican bounty hunter
Silvan Bacci – Felicias
Mario Maranzana – Naco bartender
Emma Baron Cerlesi – Mrs. Sturges
Enzo Fiermonte, Sergio De Vecchi, Aldo Berti, Remo de Angelis, Rafael Albaicin, Tito Garcia, Simon Arriaga