China 9 Liberty 37
Western, Drama | 102 mins | Released: 1978
Director: Monte Hellman
Starring: Warren Oates, Jenny Agutter, Fabio Testi, Sam Peckinpah, Isabel Mestres, Gianrico Toninelli, Franco Interlenghi
Our Rating: 6
Gunslinger Clayton Drumm (Testi) is about to be hanged when railroad company men offer him a chance to live if he will agree to murder Matthew (Oates), a miner who has steadfastly refused to sell his land to the railroad. Matthew’s refusal is a major obstacle to the railroad’s plans for expansion.
Although he naturally accepts the assignment, Clayton has become weary of killing and wants to try to build a new life for himself. The would-be killer and his potential victim meet and quickly become close friends. Matthew is married to the beautiful Catherine (Agutter), who greatly complicates matters by promptly falling in love with Clayton. Clayton, despite his growing loyalty to Matthew, gives in to lust and sleeps with his new friend’s wife. When Matthew discovers his wife’s infidelity, he becomes infuriated and beats her. While defending herself, she stabs him in the back and then hits him in the head with a rolling pin. Believing that she has killed her husband, she runs off with Clayton. Matthew recovers from his wounds and asks his mentally unstable brothers to help him track down his wife and her lover.
Meanwhile, the railroad men haven’t failed to notice that Clayton has not lived up to his part of the bargain. Consequently, they’ve changed their plans and now want anyone who gets in their way dead, including Clayton.
If you like Sam Peckinpah as an actor, check out his directing chops in “Convoy.”
The film was shot in locations in Spain and Italy by cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno. Pino Donaggio composed the musical score.
The film had a very sparse theatrical release in the United States and did not play in some cities until as late as 1984.
This was the very last film distributed by Allied Artists Corporation (early in its life, Allied Artists was known as Monogram Pictures, which was responsible for all the “Bowery Boys” movies). Citing extreme financial difficulties, Allied Artists filed for Chapter 11 in late 1978, and the following year their entire backlog (including the Monogram films) was purchased by Lorimar/Telepictures Corporation. When Lorimar itself was purchased by Time Warner, Inc. a decade later, Warner Bros. became the owner of the Allied Artists/Monogram backlog (on some TV prints of the “Bowery Boys” features, the “WB Shield” logo precedes the opening credits).
The English title of the film (China 9, Liberty 37) comes from a signpost seen at the start of the movie which shows the distances to the two nearest towns: China being 9 miles in one direction and Liberty 37 miles in the other.
When Catherine initially stabs Matthew, she stabs him on his left side, the blade is horizontal. After the cut, the blade is vertical sticking out of the center of Matthew’s upper back.
When Catherine hits Matthew over the head with the rolling pin, the rolling pin bends in the middle showing it to be made of rubber.
Clayton and Catherine are eating dinner in a hotel dining room. Clayton tells her that he is a gunfighter and she is a woman between husbands. The shot returns to Catherine who is sitting in a different setting (her hotel room), but answers as if the conversation was continuous.
Matthew Sebanek: “You ain’t gonna last long, son. There ain’t no soft-hearted gunfighters.”
Matthew Sebanek: “I think he’s come to kill me, Catherine. Hired by the railroad, I imagine.”
Catherine Severnack: “Why are you letting him stay?”
Matthew Sebanek: “Because when he’s ready, it ain’t gonna do no good to hide.”
Check out these other Warren Oates Films