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: Santi Busts a Myth  ( 10670 )
dave jenkins
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« : September 24, 2007, 07:55:48 PM »

Cinema Retro's Venice correspondent reports on his fabulous interview with Giancarlo Santi:

Quote
Started the day by calling in on Giancarlo Santi at his hotel, having arranged an interview with him last night. He was just finishing his breakfast, but otherwise seemed quite ready to hit the trail and “git them dogies rolling”. Politeness required that I kept my generally low opinion of ‘The Grand Duel’ to myself – though to be fair to Santi, I never got the impression that he himself regards it as an imperishable classic. In any case, I was much more interested in hearing him talk about his time as assistant director to Sergio Leone on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ and ‘Giù la testa’ (‘A Fistful of Dynamite’, ‘Duck, You Sucker’). Santi speaks pretty good English, but as the interview progressed, he tended to lapse into Italian with increasing frequency. When he apologized for this, I suggested that he continue in Italian, saying I could always get the tape translated at a later date.

The best-known story involving Santi concerns his aborted direction of ‘Giù la testa’, caused by Rod Steiger’s refusal to work with anyone other than Leone. After about three days, so the story goes, Steiger refused to continue under Santi’s direction, responding to Leone’s assurances that Santi was perfectly capable by saying, okay, I’ll send along my stand-in, he’s perfectly capable too. And so, reluctantly, Leone demoted Santi and assumed the directorial burden himself . . .

Santi, however, remembers things rather differently. At the end of filming ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, he recalls, Leone turned to him, removed his viewfinder and placed it around Santi’s neck, telling him, “You will direct the next film.” Santi, who doesn’t appear to have harboured any great desire to be a director, thought no more about it. Some two years later, when Santi was working in Africa as assistant director on Glauber Rocha’s ‘The Lion Has Seven Heads’, Leone, unbeknownst to him, took out a full-page ad. in Variety announcing ‘Giù la testa’, “to be directed by Giancarlo Santi”. Leone was immediately bombarded with telegrams from both Steiger’s and James Coburn’s agents: their clients had accepted the film on the understanding that it was to be “Directed by Sergio Leone”, and they weren’t going to settle for the crown prince in place of the king. When Santi did join the film as assistant director, it was the first he’d heard of all this rumpus, and he categorically denies that he shot any principle scenes, or any scenes which would not fall within the usual remit of the assistant director.

We continued talking about his work with Leone, but such stories as emerged will have to wait for another time. Before I left, he whipped out a digital print of Lee Van Cleef and himself on the set of ‘The Grand Duel’ and proceeded to inscribe it to me. Remembering Lee and Dave’s injunction to “spread the good word”, I presented him with a back issue of Cinema Retro, shook hands and oiled off.



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« #1 : September 24, 2007, 07:59:01 PM »

Cinema Retro's Venice correspondent reports on his fabulous interview with Giancarlo Santi:


Wow, great stuff jenkins! Thanks for posting that.




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« #2 : September 25, 2007, 06:28:51 AM »

Wow, excellent post.


Thanks a lot.

dave jenkins
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« #3 : September 25, 2007, 10:17:28 AM »

The myth, btw, comes via Frayling, who was reporting what SL , Bogdanovich and Donati had told him:

Quote
According to Bogdanovich and Donati, Santi did in fact start to direct the film, but after a brief period of 'Leone's pushing buttons on his Italian surrogate, the stars refused to accept the situation.' Leone recalled Santi's directorial contribution as lasting for 'the first ten days', after which he took over extensive second-unit work on the big action sequences. Donati puts it at nearer one day. 'The first day the director was Giancarlo Santi--and then Rod Steiger came. Sergio said, "Santi is just like me - he's like I am behind the camera." And Rod Steiger said, "Okay then, tomorrow I'll send someone else in and explain everything to him, and he'll be just like me on the set." And he called Hollywood. And the day after, Sergio Leone began directing the film.'
(Something to Do With Death 323)

And now we know it didn't happen that way (as Santi is the one most directly affected, I trust his account). Interesting to note that although Donati had his facts wrong, SL exaggerated the mistake by a factor of 10.



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« #4 : September 26, 2007, 04:40:27 AM »

Great find indeed Davy J. One wonders why Sir Chris never ask Santi himself?


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« #5 : September 26, 2007, 09:21:57 AM »

Juan Miranda, you're alive!!!



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« #6 : October 05, 2007, 05:15:06 PM »

you're alive!!!

Now and then.


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« #7 : November 29, 2009, 08:20:02 AM »

I had not read this until now. Nice to finally get to the bottom of it  O0. Interestingly, Leone makes no mention at all of Santi in his discussion of this in Simsolo.

I actually watched "The Grand Duel" on a horrible fullscreen version fairly recently. Apart from Bacalov's excellent music, it was really bad. However, I should really reserve my judgment until I see a proper widescreen version: Santi likes to use all of the widescreen image to the extent that this fullscreen version panned across the image to give you the whole picture so an extreme close-up on two eyes became one eye and then the other eye  :o

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« #8 : November 29, 2009, 11:15:33 AM »

Yeah, this is very interesting, don't know how I missed it earlier. O0




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« #9 : March 22, 2010, 05:00:42 PM »

Apart from Bacalov's excellent music, it was really bad. However, I should really reserve my judgment until I see a proper widescreen version

Yes, you really should.
The Grand Duel is Van Cleef's best output of the 70's, regardless of genre.

I also own the same pan n' scan version (under the name Storm Rider) you have and it is unwatchable.




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« #10 : March 23, 2010, 03:10:16 PM »

Yes, you really should.
The Grand Duel is Van Cleef's best output of the 70's, regardless of genre.

I also own the same pan n' scan version (under the name Storm Rider) you have and it is unwatchable.

Well, as I said, I should give it a fair chance. However, a nice widescreen print will certainly need to revolutionize the movie cos it really didn't impress me. By the way, have you seen an uncut version of this because apparently all the DVD releases are cut in some way or another.

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« #11 : March 25, 2010, 01:19:56 PM »

Wow, does it really look this good or has someone changed the lighting somewhat?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v21URKofm8U

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« #12 : March 27, 2010, 02:37:41 AM »

Its always looked like that from the one copy I have, The so called "patriarch" looks quite overly tan and the hair and sideburns look fake. You'd think they would have gotten a real old man for the part, this whole film with its cartoon-ish acrobatics aside from some scenes rubs me the wrong way.


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« #13 : December 04, 2010, 03:20:26 AM »

Its always looked like that from the one copy I have, The so called "patriarch" looks quite overly tan and the hair and sideburns look fake. You'd think they would have gotten a real old man for the part, this whole film with its cartoon-ish acrobatics aside from some scenes rubs me the wrong way.

The cartoonish acrobatics only occur once and it's a fabulous stunt.




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« #14 : December 04, 2010, 01:17:47 PM »

Is there a proper video release of The Grand Duel?

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