Furio Scarpelli, Screenwriter of Leone’s Classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly dies at 90 in Rome

Written by Joe D on April 29th, 2010

furio_scarpelli.jpg

Furio at his Olivetti

Arch Stanton, Bill Carson, Tuco Ramirez, Angel Eyes, Blondie, these are the names that only a lover of Westerns and Classic American Cinema could come up with and bring to life in a magnificent screenplay. An epic sweeping tale of Greed in the American West,our Holy Three search for Treasure, Buried Gold, and nothing, not a Prisoner Of War camp, a raging battle for a meaningless bridge, the burning sands of an impassable desert, nothing can stop them in their quest. One of the writers of THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE! has passed on. The Titans of Cinema await you Furio Scarpelli. they will take you by the hand and lead you to Paradise! Requiescat In Pace!

Franco De Gemini- Once Upon A Time In The West

Written by Joe D on February 5th, 2009

Here’s an interview with Franco De Gemini, he played the harmonica on the soundtrack of Sergio Leone’s masterpiece Once Upon A Time In The West. It’s in italian but even if you don’t speak Italian you’ll get a lot out of it. What an incredible movie and what a magnificent score. I went to a screening of a restored version of this film last year, my friends at Triage Motion Picture Services did the restoration and it was beautiful. You can really see the attention to detail Leone put into making this film when you watch it on a big screen. But check out Franco and dig his playing of two notes that clash and how he bends notes and how he gave a voice to The Man With The Harmonica.

MGM to release Navajo Joe DVD

Written by Joe D on May 7th, 2008

navajo_joe_1.jpg

I just got word from the great Spaghetti Western Database that MGM is finally releasing Sergio Corbucci’s masterpiece Navajo Joe. This is an early vehicle for Burt Reynolds, he plays the title character , an Indian who doesn’t take any guff from anybody. He also does all his own stunts and is very impressive in that department. Also the score by Morricone is incredible, featuring the vocal talents of Alessandro Alessandroni’s amazing choir, I Cantori Moderni, and Gianna Spagnulo’s wild, earthy solos in particular. Also of note is Alessandroni’s incredible baritone electric guitar playing. Parts of this score were used to great effect in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, for example when Uma kills Bill with the 5 point palm exploding heart technique and Bill staggers off to die. Here it is courtesy of YouTube:

But back to Navajo Joe, it has an incredible ending, you’ll have to check it out for yourself, kind of abstract but incredibly moving. Here’s the trailer.

La Resa Dei Conti, Lee Van Cleef, Tomas Milian, Sergio Sollima

Written by Joe D on December 13th, 2007

Here’s the trailer to Sergio Sollima’s magnificent Western La Resa Dei Conti or as it’s known in the USA, The Big Gundown. This is one of my favorite Spaghetti Westerns, up there with the Leone masterpieces. It features an incredible score by Ennio Morricone, vocal work by Alessandro Alessandroni’s Cantori Moderni, and solo vocal by Christy.

resa_dei_conti_epc1801.gif

Is Christy Really Gianna Spagnulo?

Sergio Sollima and Sergio Donati imbued the screenplay with Socialist overtones but it’s the interplay between Milian and Van Cleef that really elevates this film to the Olympian heights of Western Greatness. As a matter of fact I think it rivals, maybe even surpasses the buddy/enemy dynamic of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. That’s a tall order! Van Cleef did this immediately after GBU, what a great year he had! (Check out Mike Malloy’s cool book Lee Van Cleef for more info on this great actor.) There’s a Classical Greek reference in a sort of Odysseus on the Isle Of Circe scene with Milian as Odysseus. Also this trailer features some of the supercool optical work from the ultra groovy main title sequence. Check it out, you won’t be sorry!

Beautiful Main Title Sequence

Give Eli Wallach an Academy Award!

Written by Joe D on December 8th, 2007

eli-wallach-the-holiday-new-york-premiere-arrivals-1zft97.jpg
December 7th was Eli Wallach’s 92nd birthday. Please members of the Academy give the guy a career Academy Award! He deserves it! He’s a National Treasure. His portrayal of Tuco in Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is one of the greatest in the History Of Cinema! He should have won back then. Let’s show the man how much we appreciate him while he’s still here! Who deserves it more than him? He’s never gotten one and it’s a disgrace to our film community. I’m starting the campaign now! Spread the word! Write your Congressman! Petition the Academy, Seize the Chinese Theater! Maybe the American Cinematheque can have a retrospective and generate publicity, any and all ideas welcome. Let’s honor this great artist! Clint jump on the bandwagon for your old buddy, don’t leave him hanging like at the end of GBU.
goodgood.jpg

Take the shot, elevate him to the firmament of Super Stars!
tuco_01.JPG

Lee Van Cleef, Charles Bronson, Roger Corman

Written by Joe D on November 14th, 2007

lee-world.jpg

Lee Van Cleef VS. a Cucumber with Claws

I just noticed something. A guy I just met via email sent me a book he wrote about Lee Van Cleef. The guy’s name is Mike Malloy. Anyway I’m reading this book and I see that Lee Van Cleef’s first starring role in a film was given him by Roger Corman.

mob294_1160315787.jpg

The Artful Roger

The film was called It Conquered The World and Van Cleef played a scientist who contacts a Venusian creature that wants to take over the Earth. And it almost does with Lee’s help, until he has to destroy it and save Mankind. I liked this movie when I was a kid.

conquerp.jpg

The Monster Menaces The Beautiful Beverly Garland, doesn’t she own a motel in Studio City?

The only bad thing is the rubber monster. Van Cleef is great as always. Another thing, Corman gave Charles Bronson his first leading role in Machine Gun Kelly.

206951machine-gun-kelly-posters.jpg

This is an excellent film and I whole heartedly recommend it to everybody. It features an outstanding performance by Maury Amsterdam of all people!

dvd_mitraillette.jpg
This movie got Bronson noticed in Europe and he was on his way. Van Cleef and Bronson both became huge stars through working in Europe.
highmillercolbypearce.jpg

Another thing Van Cleef and Bronson have in common. They both play the Harmonica!

They were both in their 40’s when they finally made it. Bronson had been in a lot of films, he was favored by Andre deToth and appears in several of his films. But even a giant talent like deToth didn’t or couldn’t give Charles a leading role.
onceuponatime.jpg

Van Cleef is in High Noon and is very effective. But who gave him his first leading role? Roger Corman. Was it because he was a true independent filmmaker, answering to himself?
corman-rickles.jpg

Was it Corman’s vision, ability to see talent for himself and the guts to take a chance? Probably a bit of both. These two stars were Galactic! International Box Office Giants. And they weren’t pretty faces, maybe to be a macho leading man you have to go to Europe and come back as one, like Clint Eastwood. Bronson’s nickname in Italy was Il Bruto (The Ugly), Van Cleef was mistakenly called “Mr. Ugly” in American ad campaigns after his appearence in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.(He played The Bad) Who are the macho leading men today? Russel Crowe? He’s from Australia, Mel Gibson? Ditto. Are there any home grown ones? I wonder why not.

roger_corman_bak_kamera_staaende.jpg

Leonard Mann, Ciak Mull

Written by Joe D on November 12th, 2007

cu-lm-jail.jpg

I just saw a great movie! A spaghetti western called Ciak Mull,( Chuck Moll). It stars Leonard Mann, I’ve seen him in some polizottos but never in a Western. He’s done a few of them like Vengeance is a dish Served Cold, which I haven’t seen yet. I was supposed to see it and Ciak Mull in Venice at the film festival but at the last minute the trip was cancelled. Anyway some friends of mine, recently returned from Italy, brought me a DVD of Ciak Mull.
cu-lm-jail2.jpg

It’s in Italian with no subtitles but I understood almost all of it. I’ve been studying Italian for a while and I’m statring to get it. Also if there’s any kind of movie that’s pretty easy to understand, it’s a Western. OK, the movie starts with a band of bad guys setting a psychiatric prison on fire as a diversion so they can rob a bank. The inmates are going crazy, trying to break out of their cells so they aren’t burned to death. Woody Strode the black giant, veteran of many films both American and Italian, crashes through his cell door and starts freeing people.
woody.jpg

A Man Called Woody

Then we see someone, standing in a cell, not moving. It’s as if he doesn’t care about what’s happening. It’s Chuck Moll (Leonard Mann). What a great introduction to a character! He gets out with Woody and two others and as they’re escaping one of the robbers is shot down right in front of them. The dying bandit takes one look at Leonard, his eyes widen in disbelief, he exclaims ” Ciak Mull!”. He points his Colt at Leonard, meaning to kill him but he’s too far gone, he can’t pull the trigger. Leonard grabs him, ” What did you say? Who am I? ” He has amnesia!
unholy4.jpg

The Unholy Four

Well, the story turns positively Shakespearean after this with Chuck being tricked by enemies into gunning for his own father! It’s really cool.
father.jpg

Chuck is tricked into trying to kill his father

This film was directed by Enzo Barboni using the name E.B. Clucher, right before he did the super successful Lo chiamavano Trinità(They call Me Trinity) with Terence Hill.
dealer.jpg

This card playing scene reminds me of They Call Me Trinity
shuffle.jpg

In Camera Card Tricks Foreshadow Terence Hill’s exploits in Trinity

This was the first of many Trinity films in a very popular franchise. But back to Ciak Mull, it’s got a few drawbacks, it looks low budget, the lighting isn’t great, and the score by Riz Ortolani, while very good is used in an odd way. They keep putting in the main title music even when it’s not appropriate. But the movie works really well in spite of it’s limitations.
knife.jpg

He’s Good With a Knife

Leonard and Woody Strode are great. Woody’s name in the film is Woody but since there is no “W” in Italian, they keep calling ” Oody, Oody!”. Also Chuck finally remembers the name of the bad guy he’s sworn to kill. Tom Udo! Tommy Udo is the name of the evil character played by Richard Widmark in Kiss Of Death, a role that made Widmark famous.
cu-tom-udo.jpg

Tom Udo! Tom Udo!

Leonard told me that Woody gave him an introduction to John Ford. Strode had appeared in several Ford films, Sergeant Rutlidge, Two Rode Together, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Woody’s last film was The Quick and The Dead which also featured Mark Boone Junior, star of One Night With You!
sister.jpg

She’s My Sister! She’s My Lover! My Sister! My Lover!

Anyway I really enjoyed Ciak Mull. It’s my favorite Leonard Mann performance so far! He reminds me of a young Henry Fonda. Ciak Mullis also known as Chuck Moll and The Unholy Four, I don’t think it’s available here yet but I’ll recommend it to everyone I can and who knows? Maybe it will become available.
woody-torture.jpg

Of course Woody Gets Tortured!

Alessandro Alessandroni, Super Genius

Written by Joe D on November 4th, 2007

alessandro.jpg

Maestro

Here’s a clip of Alessandro Alessandroni performing in Italy. Once you hear the music you’ll know who he is. One of the Unsung Heroes Of Italian Soundtracks. He plays that great gigantic Electric guitar on the Leone/Morricone Westerns. He also whistles, plays ocarina, sitar, mandolin, etc. etc. He had a vocal group called I Cantori Moderni and they did all the chorus singing on these soundtracks as well. Thanks to Daniele Luppi I was fortunate enough to meet this great man, so humble and unassuming, and get him to perform on the soundtrack of my film One Night With You. I can never thank him enough.

And here’s the opening credits to Sette uomini d’oro(Seven Golden Men), check out I Cantori Moderni’s super jazzy singing!

Sukiyaki Western Django

Written by Joe D on September 28th, 2007

Here’s a trailer for a new Samurai/Spaghetti Western Opus:Sukiayki Western Django. It looks pretty crazy, I’ll have to check it out. Also it features a guest appearance by the Crown Prince of Genre Art House Kick Ass Cinema: Quentin Tarantino!

Spaghetti Westerns, Venice Film Festival, Quentin Tarantino

Written by Joe D on July 27th, 2007

if-django4.JPG
images2.jpgimages-12.jpg
jigokuninbetuchoupanf1.jpg

Okay, I just found the complete list of Spaghetti Westerns that are screening at the 2007 Venice Film Festival. I have been invited to attend by Quentin Tarantino, we’ve worked together several times and he knows how much I love this genre. I brought QT to the NuArt to see the restored version of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly which I had worked on as a film editor and he was impressed. I think that’s part of the reason why he invited me. Anyway I will be blogging about all these films so stay tuned in!

Biennale Cinema 64th Venice Film Festival Spaghetti Western

Spaghetti Western - Secret History of Italian Cinema 4
The films (in chronological order):

Antes llega la muerte (1964) by Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent
100.000 dollari per Ringo (1965) by Alberto De Martino
Il ritorno di Ringo (1965) by Duccio Tessari
Ringo del Nebraska (1965) by Mario Bava and Antonio Román
Un dollaro bucato (1965) by Giorgio Ferroni
Django (1965) - Uncut - by Sergio Corbucci
The Bounty Killer (1966) by Eugenio Martin
La resa dei conti (1966) by Sergio Sollima
Navajo Joe (1966) by Sergio Corbucci
Sugar Colt (1966) by Franco Giraldi
Un fiume di dollari (1966) by Carlo Lizzani
Yankee (1966) by Tinto Brass
10 000 dollari per un massacro (1967) by Romolo Guerrieri
El Desperado (1967) by Franco Rossetti
Il tempo degli avvoltoi (1967) by Nando Cicero
La morte non conta i dollari (1967) by Riccardo Freda
Se sei vivo spara (1967) - Uncut - by Giulio Questi
Ognuno per sé (1967) by Giorgio Capitani
Preparati la bara (1967) by Ferdinando Baldi
Tepepa (1968) by Giulio Petroni
Una lunga fila di croci (1968) by Sergio Garrone
E Dio disse a Caino (1969) by Antonio Margheriti
La taglia è tua l’uomo l’ammazzo io (1969) by Edoardo Mulargia
Lo chiamavano Trinità (1970) by Enzo Barboni
Matalo! (1970) by Cesare Canevari
Vamos a matar companeros (1970) by Sergio Corbucci
La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (1971) by Pasquale Squitieri
Il grande duello (1972) by Giancarlo Santi
Il mio nome è Shangai Joe (1973) by Mario Caiano
Una ragione per vivere e una per morire (1973) by Tonino Valerii
I quattro dell’apocalisse (1975) by Lucio Fulci
Keoma (1976) by Enzo G. Castellari

Quentin told me that he’s trying to arrange DVD distribution for all these titles. I wish they could have a limited theatrical run as well! Wouldn’t that be great, seeing some of these babies in a theater with an audience, the way they were meant to be seen! By the way a few days ago I posted about meeting Leonard Mann, and now I find out that one of his westerns is going to screen at Venice! La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo(Revenge is a Dish Served Cold) (1971) by Pasquale Squitieri, how cool is that! I will be podcasting an interview with him after I get back.
p.s. The name of Leonard’s western is similar to a Klingon proverb at the begining of Kill Bill, vol.1

Napoli Spara, Leonard Mann

Written by Joe D on July 22nd, 2007

Hey Guess What! It’s a small world! I went up to a birthday party this weekend, about 200 miles up the coast, central california, my wife was talking to a couple and naturally I butted in and one thing led to another, we were talking about tomatoes, then Italy, how he lived there for 15 years, how he went there in 1968 with just a backpack, how he starred in over 30 films!! His name is Leonard Manzella, but he acted under Leonard Mann. Some of his films are: Napoli Spara, one of my all time favorite polizotos, a couple spaghetti westerns,La Vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (Revenge Is A Dish Served Cold), Il Pistolero dell’Ave Maria (The Last Pistolero),a scifi L’Umanoide, (The Humanoid),and many others. Anyway we talked about Italian films and how they made them back in the 70’s. Something I’m very interested in, the atmosphere, the milleau of Roma 1968. A super creative time in world Cinema, a flowering of creativity, a new Renaisannce. I am going to interview Leonard soon and post it as a podcast so you all can hear it for yourselves. I also want to do a posting on the techniques of Italian film production (1960’s/70’s) style. So anybody that wants to can make a film Italian Style. So uncork a bottle of Nebbiolo, kick back and check out a film starring Leonard Mann, Napoli Spara is unavailable right now but I’m going to do everything I can to get it released here! In the meantime here’s a lobby card I found over at Stephen Grimes site- http://stephengrimes.blogspot.com/
p7110253.jpeg

For a Few Dollars More and the Grave of the Unknown Film Reviewer

Written by Joe D on July 13th, 2007

clintfewdollarsmore.jpg

I found this BAD review of Sergio Leone’s great western For A Few Dollars More. It’s from an old copy of Time magazine. It perfectly illustrates the smug, superior attitude that Italian B movies have been subjected to. The idiot that wrote this review actually puts down Ennio Morricone’s magnificent score! I am posting this to make a point. Anything new or different is initially put down. If people don’t understand something they want to destroy it. But time has proven the Time reviewer wrong. Unfortunately the piece is unsigned, otherwise we could set the reviewer’s house on fire and shoot him when he comes running out! Just like the Rojo’s in A Fistfull of Dollars (which this review also puts down). Read full entry to see the complete review…

Click to continue »