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13801  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Death Rides a Horse aka Da uomo a uomo (1967) on: October 25, 2004, 11:37:06 PM
Having just seen DRAH for the first time (on the new Japanese DVD that has a good widescreen transfer), I'd like to nominate it for the best non-Leone SW (I consider My Name Is Nobody a Leone film).

I believe that we can dispense with the other claimants: The Big Gundown and Companeros, which both have their good points, to be sure, but which also have Tomas Milian. As I detest, loath, and despise Tomas Milian (or perhaps I should say his screen persona), I consider his presence in these otherwise estimable films a serious liability. Nonetheless, granting that others may not share my feelings, let us now turn to more positive arguments, namely, all the good things in DRAH.

I list them as follows, in descending order of importance:

Lee Van Cleef
Mario Brega
Groggy (I can never remember this actor's name)
Cool revenge plot
Bank heist
firearms demonstrations
outlaw gang that likes to laugh evilly often
clever ways of killing members of said outlaw gang
solid ending with a satisfying twist (including the reappearance of a gang member we'd forgotton about)

In other words, this film is more like FAFDM than any other film we are ever likely to see. If you can't have Leone, the next best thing is a really good imitation. Ergo, DRAH is the best non-Leone SW.

Arguments to the contrary?
13802  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: La resa dei conti aka The Big Gundown (1966) on: October 25, 2004, 10:01:56 PM
As I said earlier, the time on the box for the Japanese disc reads 115. I played the disc again last night to see what  the counter on my player would read out at as, and it was indeed 115 minutes at the end (plus 10 or 20 seconds). This includes the time for both  the MGM and the UA logos that play at the film's beginning.
13803  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:Pure Beauty************ on: October 25, 2004, 09:52:09 PM
Nobody has brought this up yet, and I think this is worth mentioning. The younger Claudia is different than her more mature self, but every bit as alluring. Check her out in Visconti's The Leopard, where she has just a hint of baby fat and is very kittenish.

The interesting thing is that most women have a single period in their lives when they are at their peak of beauty, but Claudia looked good whenever she was filmed.
13804  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: La resa dei conti aka The Big Gundown (1966) on: October 22, 2004, 11:55:09 PM

The made in Canada DVD of DRAH is 112 minutes can you tell us the running time of the Japanese DVD Dave?

The box says 115.
13805  Films of Sergio Leone / A Fistful of Dollars / Re:YOJIMBO VS. FFOD on: October 22, 2004, 06:39:31 PM
i think yojimbo's probably a better film, but theyre both examples of two great directors not quite at their peak but making bloody exciting films.

That puts it rather well, I think.
13806  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: La resa dei conti aka The Big Gundown (1966) on: October 22, 2004, 06:34:46 PM

DRAH suffers from a lousy transfer on the US DVD, if its as good as you say it would be nice to see that Japanese DVD.

I thought the transfer was quite good. It isn't up to the quality of Gundown, though.

BTW, DRAH carries an MGM logo at the beginning, and Gundown wears Columbia's brand. Is it perhaps conceivable that we'll someday get standard US studio releases of these films on DVD?
13807  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re:Final Flashback? on: October 22, 2004, 06:13:35 PM
Djimbo, I can't agree that DYS is Leone's weakest film (even with a caveat for COR). It's true that Sean's suicide isn't clear, but that is merely a technical flaw. All of Leone's films have technical flaws (even OUATITW,  though it probably has the fewest).  Rather than just tally up the flaws in the films and give the title Best Picture to the one with the lowest score, I think we have to give greater weight to things like plot, character development, and the like. On that view, DYS has to rate very highly.

Since this thread is concerned with the final flashback, I'd like to use that as a way to demonstrate Leone's development as a filmmaker. Compare Leone's use of flashbacks in FAFDM and OUATITW. In those earlier examples, Leone uses flashbacks for essentially the same purpose, to fill in backstory details. That is, they are concerned mainly with plot. Leone uses this kind of flashback in DYS as well, but the final flashback is of a new and different kind. It exists, I submit, less for plot and more as an index of Sean's inner state (and maybe as a foreshadowing of his Final State). That is, the final flashback is mostly about character. Sean is a more developed character than either Mortimer or Harmonica, and part of the reason for that is Leone's more developed use of flashback (also, the plots of FAFDM and OUATIA, which are revenge stories, don't require avengers of any great psychological complexity).

Anyway, I think Leone got better at portraying character as he went along (OUATIA being an apotheosis in that regard). Character is not everything, of course, and one may prefer a movie like OUATITW which is populated more with types than characters. But I think we have to give Leone his due and say that DYS is every bit as interesting as the other films of his mature period.
13808  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: La resa dei conti aka The Big Gundown (1966) on: October 22, 2004, 01:29:45 AM
Given the amount of adulation Gundown has been receiving on this thread, I was more than a little interested when I saw that there was a new Japanese Lee Van Cleef boxed set that included it (the other 2 titles in the box are Death Rides a Horse and The Grand Duel (Gundown and DRAH are in English with J subtitles, TGD is in Italian with J-subtitles (all three are widescreen 16x9))).

The set was about $100, but I decided to take the plunge(I live in Japan and bought it locally). Gundown is only the 90 minute version and it does look very good. I must say that I was disappointed with the film (maybe that extra quarter of an hour really makes a difference). I grant that it has a good score and that some of the location photography is impressive, but Tomas Milian really annoys me, and I think the plot is weak. It is better than a lot of other non-Leone SWs, though.

After Gundown, I watched DRAH, also for the first time, and, oddly, enjoyed it more. The revenge plot works really well, and I enjoyed the relationship between the young avenger and the Lee Van Cleef character. The ending is also quite strong. For my money, it is superior to Gundown.
13809  Films of Sergio Leone / Duck, You Sucker / Re:Final Flashback? on: October 22, 2004, 12:57:18 AM

Perhaps i'm just dopey but i didnt realise until about the third time i saw DYS that i realised sean committed suicide by dynamite i thought it was just some random explosion. Leone perhaps coulda made it a bit clearer for people like me, lol  ;D

You're not alone, it also took me several viewings before I got the fact of Sean's suicide. I too think the fault lies with Leone. He *should* have made the end clearer.
13810  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:The number three! on: October 19, 2004, 12:04:38 AM
I think Groggy's point stands. Yes, there are groups of 3s in OUATITW, but in addition, there are also groups of 4s. This can perhaps be seen as part of Leone's development as an artist: as he goes along, he becomes comfortable with more complex numerological patterns. These in turn provide viewers with a richer cinematic experience (the films get denser, there is more to notice in them).

The number 3 enjoys a special place in Western culture, it is true, but the number 4 also comes in for special attention at times. There are four seasons, four elements . . . at one time it was believed that the human body was composed of four humors. There are the four cardinal points of the compass, and "the four corners of the earth." One can go on and on.

And then four groups of three yields 12, another number fraught with significance......

So, I don't see any problem with the idea that Leone could simultaneously arrange patterns of 3 and 4 in one of his (exceedingly deep)  films.
13811  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:Once/West Titles on: October 18, 2004, 11:33:33 PM
Didn't Cusser ask for an example "previous" to OUATITW?
13812  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:Thoughts on Cheyenne on: July 21, 2004, 01:35:44 AM
It's true that Cheyenne is the most interesting character in that there are so many sides to him. However, I don't really see him developing over the course of the film. Our understanding of him deepens as more is revealed about him, but it is our understanding that changes, not Cheyenne.

BTW, one way that Cheyenne sometimes operates in the film is like a Chorus figure, commenting on the action and helping the audience with some of the plot points. I think this is somewhat unique in Leone, whose characters are usually much more taciturn.
13813  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:The number three! on: July 21, 2004, 01:28:52 AM
Still, as Groggy points out, there are actually 4 people in the scene, and all of them get shot (that last is a really great observation). This scene works really well, by the way, as a transition from three-ness to four-ness (if you will). Given the idea that the 3 gunfighters sort of represent Old School westerns, by having them killed off Leone might be signalling that there's a new game in town.......
13814  Films of Sergio Leone / The Good, The Bad and The Ugly / Re:The gold and the epilogue. on: July 21, 2004, 01:21:06 AM
That article talks a lot about the half dollars, but beyond a brief mention, what does it actually say about the gold $20.00 coins? Even if the mint never struck any gold coins except with union dyes, might those not still be considered "confederate gold coins"? I'll bet all coinage before sescession was still considered legal tender within the CSA.....
13815  Films of Sergio Leone / Once Upon A Time In The West / Re:analysis on jill on: July 20, 2004, 01:18:35 AM

jill's former "job" came in handy, in that she seduces frank, deluding him into thinking he actually could become a business man, thus giving harmonica and cheyenne time to think of a way to come up with obtaining the money needed to get that land.  cheyenne prostutes himself for jill in order to earn the money needed to obtain mcbain's land.

I'm finding it hard to believe we've seen the same movie. Jill "seduces" Frank? Rather, she yields to him, under threat of death. Later she tries to sell out because it is the easiest thing for her to do. She doesn't plan, she doesn't strive, she goes with the flow. She is essentially passive throughout the movie. Then, at the end, she shows she's changed by actually taking the initiative: she gives the boys a drink. At that moment, she transforms from archetypal whore to archetypal mother. It was a heck of a ride, but she got to the end in one piece.  
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