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Author Topic: Il mercenario aka The Mercenary/A Professional Gun (1968)  (Read 53391 times)
redyred
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« on: May 24, 2004, 05:37:37 PM »

Well, I just finished watching the DVD of "il mercenario" aka "Professional Gun" and it was, in a word, disappointing. It ought to have been a winner - directed by Corbucci, starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance - but I really think I've found my least favourite spaghetti western so far. The plot was almost identical to Corbucci's later Companeros - Franco Nero playing a self serving European weapons expert who is thrown together with a dedicated yet bungling revolutionary, opposite Jack Palance playing a cruel and sadistic villain. The difference with "professional gun" is that the characters were nowhere near as good - the heroes weren't likeable or even particularly heroic. Jack Palance spent all of 5 minutes on screen, in a rather bland performance, which is strange since the double DVD I got was supposed to be a Jack Palance combo. Also, either it was really badly edited or it was just a badly written screenplay. The plot kept jumping ahead in some parts. The final gun battle was pure Leone, which was interesting but not pulled off at particularly well, and just didn't seem to fit in. Having said all that, there was plenty of good Mexican Bandit action, much like in Bullet for the General, and a kind of clever twist at the end, but it wasn't really enough to make the rest worthwile.

My advice to people considering getting it would be to grab it if you see it cheap, but it's hardly worth hunting down or paying a large amount for.

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cigar joe
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« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2004, 04:55:46 AM »

thanks redyred

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« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2004, 10:58:32 AM »

when, sometimes watching ( enduring) these spags. is is possible we forget what kind of mood we're in before we watch ?  someday someone might cut you off in traffic or disrespect you.
THEN  is the time to watch a good, bad non-leone spag.
with a fistful of bourbon and some branch water.  Grin


« Last Edit: May 25, 2004, 11:03:07 AM by KERMIT » Logged
rddesq
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« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2004, 03:29:19 PM »

Just got my DVD in the mail today.  Plan to watch it in the next few days.  Think I paid 14$ for it from Video Values.  I also ordered My Name is Nobody.  After reading the review above I am not expecting much of Professional Gun.  Is the score any good?

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« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2004, 06:29:06 PM »

The score was pretty good, it was Morricone after all. The main theme was brassy Mexican style, very similar to the one from Bullet for the General. And the Leone-esque gundown was accompanied with Dollars trilogy style final scene music.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't absolutely dreadful. Just compared to other Spaghetti Westerns, particularly Corbucci's other films, it really didn't stand out. In many ways it seems like an early version of Companeros, which he made two years later and is much better.

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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2004, 03:18:00 AM »

I didn't dislike as much as you did, but I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. As a whole, the film did suffer, but it was great in parts. What makes Companeros, its sequel, better, is Thomas Milian. He was sorely missed here. Still, there were several things to enjoy. I guess everybody on this site loves the scene in FAFDM, where Van Cleef lights a match on Klaus Kinskis face. Well, in this film, Franco Nero lights matches on every face he can find, and it always made me laugh. These scenes can't compare with the one in FAFDM though, because only Kinski gets that extraordinary look on his face afterwards. Priceless.

The dvd was terrible, transferred from an old vhs tape. It also looked as though it was a tv-version. Scenes suddenly faded into black, as if it was a commercial break. The fades usually came in the middle of a dialogue scene, and we never got a chance to hear what they actually said.

« Last Edit: May 29, 2004, 06:01:26 AM by Nobody » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2004, 11:55:32 AM »

Just watched this again and liked it much more this time. I'd say it's the first Corbucci film where he had perfected his skills as a director. There are some really nice moments, like for example when Curly is shot and doesn't realise it, but then notices the blood slowly seeping through his white carnation. Also Columba, the obligatory female revolutionary character that seems to be in pretty much every Zapata western is much more developed and prominent than her equivelents in say, Companeros or Bullet for the General (it's actually her that rescues the male heroes at the end). The gundown music is one of Morricone's best - it's the same theme used in Kill Bill vol 2 when Kiddo is breaking out of the coffin. The eerie theme that accompanies Franco Nero's character is very good too.

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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2004, 03:44:54 PM »

Well I guess I'll be able to add my two cents soon, have some DVD's of A Professional Gun & Navajo Joe on the way. I'll let you know what I find out running times, quality etc., etc.

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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2004, 08:44:46 PM »

The Mercenary

Corbucci is the Dr.Jeckel /Mr. Hyde of SW directors, its either quality or crap. Quien Saba Corbucci ?

Watched Corbucci’s The Mercenary/A Professional Gun tonight, and was blown away, this is Corbucci’s best serious Zapata/Western beautifully shot and a great DVD transfer (Japan). It’s a very similar story to Companero’s,  but it is not played for laughs. There are some humorous moments but it is a good story that moves right along Nero and Musante are great in this and very believable and they look cool, Nero reminds you of Lee Marvin in The Professionals. Jack Palance plays Curly a weird mob boss sort of a Dude/Dandy, why he’s called homosexual by Howard Hughes in Pocket Essentials Spaghetti westerns is not very apparent. Anyway it even quotes Leone by having a corrida shoot out near the end. And it has a Morricone score that any body who’s seen Kill Bill will instantly recognize.

Corbucci remains an enigma to me so anyone that can explain why his films run the gamut from Good, Bad, too Ugly besides my learning curve theory chime in please.

Of what I’ve seen Django 1966 has some inspired gimmicks but its mostly Bad mostly crap. Navajo Joe 1966 is mostly Ugly it doesn’t have any quality of believability, the costumes and Native American sets are ridiculous. I haven’t seen the Hellbenders but getting burned on the first two I’m not inclined to go out of my way to look for it. The Big Silence 1967 is what I’d rate Good for Corbucci based on what I’d seen until Companero’s  and The Mercenary,  which are really GOOD.

So how to explain this enigma, maybe it lies in Corbucci’s collaborators

The Mercenary 1968 was produced by Alberto Gimaldi  (FAFDM & GBU) it was written by Corbucci, Vincenzoni (FAFDM & GBU & DRAH ) and Spina. It has beautiful cinematography by Alejandro Ulloa and of course a fine Morricone score. Actrors, Franco Nero, Tony Musante, and Jack Palance. So the question begs to be asked was it the influence of the people around him and the bigger budget?

Companeros 1970 had almost the same general story it too was photographed by Ulloa and had a Morricone score. Had Nero, Tomas Milian, Jack Palance, and Fernando Rey.

In between these films Corbucci made The Specialist never head about it one way or another. After Companeros  he made a  film called Sonny & Jed 1972 then What Am I Doing In The Middle Of The Revolution in 1973 which was not very good, then The White The Yellow And The Black in 1975 (with Eli Wallach),  which I believe was his last western. He continued to make movies until 1990.

So I recommend The Mercenary to Leone fans.

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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2004, 04:21:54 AM »

you mention howard hughes' pocket spaghetti westerns. ive read it and decided he rates non-leone's far too highly. He gives Django 5/5 (i might give it 3 at a push), The Big Gundown 5/5, ok so its a good film but its not a great film, and certainly not as good as leone. theres some other massive overrating as well though i can understand why he gives Great Silence 5/5. id probly give it a 4/5 but i can see why.

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« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2004, 06:51:43 AM »

I've been meaning to pick up the cheapie of that one. I see it all the time for $5. I'm sure the transfer sucks though.

I really enjoyed Hellbenders, but I don't expect Leone when it's not Leone! It's damn good none the less with a killer Morricone score. A fairly watchable full screen version is available on the 10 movie brentwood collection Tales of The Gun.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008OM7A/qid%3D1099489983/sr%3D11-1/ref%3Dsr%5F11%5F1/103-0859585-4872644

It also has some pretty poor prints of "A Town Called Hell", "Captain Apache" and "Badman's River" as well as others. Hellbenders is definitely the highlight.

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« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2004, 04:25:24 PM »

Spag fan, I wouldn't get the cheapie you'll really spoil the effect, the Japanese DVD release was just pristeen, this one really needs a R1 release for us in NA.

Hint (a certain member of SW board can burn you an R1 disc) lol.

Djimbo I've had mixed results with following Howard Hughes "Pocket Essentials Spaghetti Westerns", what we really need is a "Leone Lovers Guide to Spaghetti Westerns. Hughes is giving a more historical perspective covering the essential SW's of the genre, films that set precidents, benchmarks, etc.

If I had to compile a list of the Leone Lover's Guide to SW DVD's this would be my current list with the most similar in style and quality to Leone at the top and farther down the more they stray. Some of my criteria would be story, entertainment, cinematography, quality, look, actors, sets, score. This list only includes the the DVD's I've seen and the Zapata Westerns also.

The "A" list:

The Big Gundown
The Mercenary
Companero's
Run Man Run
Face To Face
Death Rides A Horse
The Great Silence
Keoma
A Bullet For The General

The "B" List:

A Man Called Slade
A Minute To Pray A Second to Die

The not sure if they are classified as Spaghetti Western List:

Red Sun
Shalako
100 Rifles

To Stay away from List:

Django
Navajo Joe
Captain Apache (the worst so far)
A Bullet For Sandoval (VHS)


OK spag fan now you have me thinking of getting Hellbenders, tell us a little more so we can get an idea how its similare and how it differs from the master Leone. Another one I'm considering is Valreri's "Day Of Anger" with LVC as Leone assistant on both Dollar films something may have rubbed off no? Also he did "THe Price of Power". I might even check out "Sabata" again.




 

« Last Edit: November 03, 2004, 04:31:16 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2004, 07:45:12 AM »

The Stingray version (Japan) DVD of 'The Mercenary' has a Easter Egg on it. if you move around the main menu until Kowalski's pistol end is high-lighted. You can watch the edit version of the film. Excluding about 40 mins of footage,  which brings it down closer to the US release. Not to sure if it is 'A Professional Gun' shot for shot. But quite a few chapters are missing.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2005, 04:31:23 PM by The Smoker » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2004, 08:53:42 AM »

Spag fan, I wouldn't get the cheapie you'll really spoil the effect, the Japanese DVD release was just pristeen, this one really needs a R1 release for us in NA.

Hint (a certain member of SW board can burn you an R1 disc) lol.

OK spag fan now you have me thinking of getting Hellbenders, tell us a little more so we can get an idea how its similare and how it differs from the master Leone.

Thanks for the tip CJ.

As far as Hellbenders, it's been awhile since I watched it, but it had some Leone-esque twists in the plot and a memorable opening sequence. However,  the story really bares no resemblence to any of the Leone films. It's really rather unique. The Wild Bunch, which came out a couple of years later, is similar in minor ways. Some say it's a mess and drags in spots, but  I was surprised at how enjoyable it was compared to some of the lesser spaghettis I've seen... and that Morricone score...Excellent! I'd really like to see a restored version of this one. It get's slammed a bit, but I think its underrated. It ain't art (except for the score), but it's definitly some Prime grade-A cheese at the very least!

« Last Edit: November 04, 2004, 08:58:48 AM by spag fan » Logged
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2005, 05:25:56 AM »

Ive said this before but corbucci really hung on brooding twilight in this movie.





Very big contrast from Great Silence and its forunners. Corbucci cleaning alot of his camera techniques up. Much more polished visually.

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