Leonard Mann, Ciak Mull

Written by Joe D on November 12th, 2007


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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

This card playing scene reminds me of They Call Me Trinity

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.

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.

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!

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.

Of course Woody Gets Tortured!