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Messages - Juan Miranda

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I think this takes a great deal for granted, regarding who the Coburn and Warbeck characters are, and their past relationship. I belive there is a much more tortured history between them than the one which first seems evident. Yes, we clearly see Warbeck (Sean?) betray Coburn (John Mallory) to the soldiers in the Dublin pub. Coburn reacts by killing the soldiers. He pauses. Then, after Warbeck seemingly nods "yes", he kills him too.

But how did Warbeck fall into the army's hands in the first place, to be tortured and to betray others? Did Coburn give him away because, despite his smile at the threesome established in the final flashback, he was actually desturbed and displaced by it, and turned his friend in? His smile seems to be echoed by De Nero at the end of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA as he lies in an opium haze, in the knowledge that he too has betrayed his friends to the police.

De Nero has a similar scene "at night, in the rain" as Coburn, as he witnesses the results of his "tip", all his friends lying dead beacause of him. Coburn sees the result of Villega's post-torture betrayal (the firing squad), but obviously feels guilty himself, partly for dragging Steiger (Juan) into the revolution and getting his entier family killed as a consquence, but also, maybe, because of his earlier betrayal of Warbeck to the military, and he sees it all happening yet again.

Most importantly though, how do we assess Coburn and his past friendship with Warbeck back in Ireland? I'd suggest through their class.

Class is an enormous issue here  in Europe, even today. Coburn is fairly contemptuous towards Steiger for most of the film, calling him a "fokin' chickin' thief" and laughing at his antics. Yes, he becomes his friend, but only after using him mercilessly, and even when he feels so guilty about the death of his family that he can't look him in the face, he still sniggers when a bird shits on his head.

In the flashbacks we see Coburn and Warbeck driving around in an early car through an Irish country estate. Is this Coburn's home, or Warbeck's? Are they aristocrats? Certainly only the very wealthy could afford automobiles at that time, and Coburn remains a petrol-head even in Mexico. I suggest that Warbeck and Coburn are both wealthy young men, rebelling against their upper class background's by dabbling in nationalist politics, a fairly common situation in rich families today, but even more so in the period GIU LA TESTA was made. Coburn is the older man, and the more educated (he is an explosives expert, after all, suggesting a chemisty back-ground), and perhaps it's Warbeck who lives in the country mansion (he is the car driver, after all)? This powerfully links Coburn with Villega. Both are technically educated, upper class intelligensia (Villega is a surgeon) involved in fermenting revolution, with disasterous results to all around them.

Perhaps Coburn involved Warbeck in the revolution, just as he involves Steiger with the same consequences, almost with the same name combination, John and Jaun, John and Sean? The only difference being, the first time round Coburn/John was the betraying Villega figure, and not because he was tortured physically, but tortured metally by love for the un-named woman.

(reposted and edited)

Trivia Games / Re: The Quote Game
« on: July 11, 2005, 04:16:29 PM »
Then it must have been Danny Aiello to the nurse when he finds out his he has become a she?

Trivia Games / Re: The Quote Game
« on: July 11, 2005, 03:14:20 PM »
Was it Danny Aiello to a reporter in ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, Redyred?

Once Upon A Time In The West / Re: Pure Beauty************
« on: July 10, 2005, 03:56:34 PM »
She is literally breath taking in 8½. I think Leone mirrors her character in that movie at the end of ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST when she brings water to the railway workers. In her first scene in the Fellini film, she brings water to his on-screen substitute, Marcello Mastroianni. She certainly has that same earthquake going on in her dress in both films.

Yes, age may have withered her, so to speak (all that sun doesn't help), but she will be forever young thanks to the magic of the movies. Like an exotic creature trapped in amber.

Mind you, she was in some right old rubbish. As some one who sat all the way through POPSY POP, I know what I'm on about.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Thoughts on this film
« on: July 09, 2005, 05:53:50 PM »
There are two types of people in this world, my friend. Those who come in through the window, and those who come in through the door pretending to be "the bug man".

Trivia Games / Re: Create Your Own Spaghetti Western
« on: July 09, 2005, 05:36:54 PM »
A friend of mine came up with a concept for a series of classic Spaghetti Westerns a few years ago, which we have since expanded on down the pub.

The first film was RIDE, BASTARD, RIDE! to be followed up with the inevitable BASTARD RETURNS, MY NAME IS BASTARD, BASTARD'S GOLD etc, ending with THE SON OF BASTARD VS JESSIE JAMES, naturally. All directed by John Santi, with different tempremental English thesps such as Aubrey Morris and Freddie Jones in the Bastard role.

In the DVD age we can now look forward to THE COMPLETE BASTARD box set.

Once Upon A Time In America / Re: Noodles' motive for raping Deborah
« on: July 09, 2005, 05:19:22 PM »
I find this one of the most difficult things to watch that Leone ever shot. It seems to go on forever. Then it stops for a moment and starts all over again. Its horrendous. The fact too that it takes place just before the interval in theatrical screenings leaves you staggering out of the cinema thinking "Bloody hell!"

It is though, the pivitol moment in the movie. Both characters have assumptions about the other which are purely delusional. Noodles assumes that Deborah has waited for him and he merely needs to put on a flashy show and she will be his girl, give up all her years of training and ambition.

Deborah has always realised that Noodles will chose Max over her since their childhood ("Your mother's caling."), but imagines that he is still the boy she could wrap around her little finger, rather than the ex-con and brutal criminal he has become.

When Noodles realises she is choosing Hollywood rather than him, he destroys their relationship forever by brutally raping her. By doing this he also violently asserts his choice (yet again) of Max and the life of crime over her. Ironically, (and Leone is great with irony), by doing so, he plunges himself into a drug induced bender of remorse. During this opium spree, behind his back, Max realises he can no longer rely on Noodles as he seems to have chosen love for Deborah over him, and begins to plot his downfall with the Italian mob. In the rape scene, in this one moment, Noodles ruins his life forever.

Deborah and Max are actually made for one another, and it come as no surprise (although it is one of cinema's most breathtaking ones) that they end up together. They are both ruthlessly ambitious, both in love with Noodles, both wary of his lack of drive, and both are jealous that he seems to have chosen them, one above the other throughout the film. Its Noodles great tragedy that he realises none of this until he walks through the stage door and meets Secretary Baily's son, who is called David too.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Irish Locations
« on: July 09, 2005, 04:28:10 PM »
Sorry if I'm reviving a lot of old threads, but I just discovered the forum a couple of nights ago and love it already. Loads to read. This is what the internet does so well.

I post regularly at ****** films board too, which has a similar bunch of civilised and well informed posters as this one, but as you can guess, has very limited opportunities to talk about Leone. :D


I've gotta say Squad 701's pics are excellent too. I've been to Northern Ireland, but not to Eire yet, something I'll have to change soon for a pint in Toners Pub, if nothing else.

While on the Eire locations theme, I've always been puzzled why the production team went to the time and expense of shooting any of the movie in Ireland at all. Surely it would have been much cheaper to have built a pub set at Cinecitta, and to have shot the emerald exteriors in any number of verdant Italian locations? In fact one of the main locations they did use has an avenue of (atypical for Ireland) Cyprus trees, which they're not exactly short of in Italy.

As the Irish scenes take place entierly in one interior and two rather anonymous exteriors, why bother scouting locations then dragging a whole crew hundreds of miles to a new country just for that?

(*A troll has been following me around here recently. I don't want the bitch slagging off else where.)

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Bogdanovich
« on: July 09, 2005, 04:10:50 PM »
According to Frayling, Giancarlo Santi began directing the film when it reached production stage. There, sadly,  any certainty ends, as both Leone and scriptwriter Donati fail to agree for how long he was employed in this post. Leone says 10 days. Donati not even a whole day.

Santi, like Leone when he got his big break, was known as a top assistant director at the time. If you've ever been on a movie set, you'll know that nobody seems to have a tougher production job than these guys. They run around everywhere yelling, keeping the film on schedual, while the director (these days anyway) spends most of his time slumped in a chair watching a little TV monitor. Santi had worked on Leone's two previous features.

I've watched and enjoyed a lot of Bogdanovich's movies, the early ones anyway. TARGETS is a fine little film, with a great performance by Boris Karloff. THE LAST PICTURE SHOW is excellent, but much of that is due to its arresting black and white (mostly wide angle lensed) cinematography. Hell, I even enjoyed NICKLEODEON. But. Did Bogdanovich have the cohones to direct a film with a script like GIU LA TESTA? Never in a million years. Indeed, despite his credentials as a great critic and admirer of John Ford's, I'm not sure he even understood Western's very well at all.

"Leone's pictures are cynical, which Ford never was. And there's no poetry in them." he tells Frayling. No poetry in Leone!!? Is this man blind? Clearly, judging by how bad his directing has been for the last couple of decades.

In old age now he seems to be purely living off the fact that he once knew many of the American greats like Orson Welles and John Ford. All a bit pathetic really, and he merely comes accross as a waspish little prick in a bow tie.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: TITLE
« on: July 09, 2005, 03:29:48 PM »
Just to say I think Duck you Sucker as a title ...SUCKS

It could have been worse. Leone may have convinced himself that SUCK YOU DUCKER was a common expression on the lips of every English speaker.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: greatest explosion ever!!!!
« on: July 09, 2005, 08:48:25 AM »
Hey, what about the air strike in APOCALYPSE NOW? Smell that napalm.

Yes the GIU LA TESTA bridge blast is splendid. The set builders must have done a great job too, as the remains are still sitting there in an Almerian gully today. Must visit the place someday.

Another German givaway is his first name, Günther. Not very Mexican. The actor was Domingo Antoine, and according the not always reliable this was his only picture.

I could be wrong, as my knwoledge of early 20th century Mexican military uniforms is a bit rusty  ;), but isn't the little red, white and black circular cap badge on Günther's hat a German army insignia?

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Thoughts on this film
« on: July 09, 2005, 07:24:58 AM »
Wow, what a thread. I guess, I'll chuck in my 2 cents. For me this is one of the finest movies ever made, beaten by Leone only by ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. I also consider it one of the most underrated films of all time too, beaten only by TWIN PEAKES: FIRE WALK WITH ME. But that's another story.

As for the worst Leone film, if we're talkin' oaters, surely that's MY NAME IS NOBODY. Seen once and utterly forgotten (OK, I know, thats cheating a bit).

One of its major drawbacks is its terrible title, DUCK YOU SUCKER. Its origional screenplay title, ONCE UPON A TIME, THE REVOLUTION is better, but I can only bear to call it by its Italian title GIU LA TESTA.

One of its major peculiarities is how Coburn's character is always called Sean, even though his name is clearly John Mallory, and is called John by everyone in the film. When I'm chatting with friends about the film I always call him Sean, and always have to correct myself. Perhaps its the insistance of the unforgettable "Sean Sean Sean" Morricone refrain?

Of course when Juan askes Coburn his name, he is gazing off in the distance and mumbles "Sean", then changes it to John. Pehaps "Sean" is in fact the name of the David Warbeck character seen in the flashbacks? But that's probabaly for a different thread all of its own...

ETA. In fact I just found a couple.

Duck, You Sucker / Re: Tuco or Juan
« on: July 09, 2005, 06:46:43 AM »
As you can guess by my forum name, I am very fond of of old Juan.  :)

His accent is as absurd as Jimmy Coburn's "Oirish" one, and this lends the pair a cartoonish quality in keeping with some of the visual flourishes.

He does share some of Tuco's peasant traits, his chats with God for instance. But as said above by some folks, they are two different guys in two different types of movie. Juan changes and evolves, where as Tuco is simply motivated by greed.

The massacre in the caves sequence (when seen cut correctly on the recent DVD resoration) is one of the greatest sequences Leone ever shot. Utterly moving, and quite daring, refusing to show us what Juan sees. We just get an extended take of Steiger's devastated face. We only see the dead people through Coburn's point of view. He instantly feels guilty about Steiger's dead children, and can barely look Steiger in the eye again until the end of the film.

In a lighter moment, the exasperated look on Steiger's face as he realises the bank is merly full of grubby prisoners is priceless.

Steiger was characaturing some of Leone's quirks in his performance, and even looks a little like him. Wallach was origionally supposed to play Miranda, of course, and apparently he fell out very badly with Sergio over it, and wouldn't speak to him for years (a familiar tale with Leone collabarators).

On a technical side note, I was always stunned by the panning, zooming shot of the dead in the cave scene. If you have even tried pulling focus on a camera, you'll appriciate this is a sheer tour de force of the Focus Puller's craft. Indeed, I wondered how the hell they managed to to achieve this shot, and it came as no surprise when I learned they had an early version of video assist on the shoot, very cutting edge technology at the time.

Off-Topic Discussion / Re: tough directors to work for/with
« on: July 08, 2005, 05:33:12 PM »
Werner Herzog must be a tough guy to work for. In the documentary BURDEN OF DREAMS he calmly talks about pulling a rifle on Klaus Kinski and threatning to kill him if he left the picture (they were shooting FITZCARRALDO).

Mind you, from what I've learned of Kinski's behavior, its a wonder nobody had done it sooner to "the hunchback".

Like Leone, Stanley Kubrick was notorious for shooting take after take. Unlike Leone he would go up to 50 or 60 takes before he forced his performers to give up what they wanted to do and give in to him his way, through sheer exhaustion (or even boredom).

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