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Topics - Juan Miranda

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1
Once Upon A Time In America / Script
« on: August 05, 2015, 05:43:07 AM »
You can download Leonardo Benvenuti, Piero De Bernardi, Enrico Medioli, Franco Arcalli, Franco Ferrini & Sergio Leone's screenplay from here:

https://www.copy.com/s/t%3AxhgVMjVjzJHgCf3Y%3Bp%3A%252FOnce%2520Upon%2520a%2520Time%2520in%2520America%2520-%2520Undated%2520-%2520English%2520Version%2520Draft.pdf%3Boid%3A272

2
Ennio Morricone / Morricone concerts in Dublin
« on: May 16, 2013, 05:30:14 AM »
Ennio is playing two concerts in Dublin this summer, on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July, his first ever in Eire. Tickets start at 85 Euro. I've had a look at Sunday, the only likely night I could make it over but there are none on sale. Saturday's tickets are available, hopefully they just haven't put Sunday's online yet...

http://www.ticketmaster.ie/Ennio-Morricone-tickets/artist/947910?brand=tm&tm_link=tm_homeA_rc_name1

I wonder if he'll pop into Toners Pub while in town? If I do go I know I will.

3
Its big in the UK at the moment, one of those Vicwardian costume dramas which alway do well during recessions when there is a Tory government in power. It stars Elizabeth McGovern:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2012/sep/16/elizabeth-mcgovern-downton-andrew-anthony?INTCMP=SRCH

I'd no idea she was in it as I don't watch it but Leone and OUATIA do get a mention in the interview, and Elizabeth McGovern remains fascinating.


4
Off-Topic Discussion / Wings of Desire (1987)
« on: August 25, 2010, 03:00:08 PM »
So I went to Berlin last month to see the huge Frida Kahlo retrospective at the Martin Gropius Bau, as y’ do. As a bit of research before going I screened Wim Wender’s 1988 classic WINGS OF DESIRE a few times, a film I hadn’t watched in years, and quickly became highly intrigued by it’s exterior locations. If nothing else, Der Himmel über Berlin (the original West German title) is a love letter to a city and I wondered how much these places had changed in the years since, and not just because of the obvious removal of the Wall. I had just three days to find out, packing in loads of other stuff too in my first trip to this still very schizophrenic place.

The movie memorably opens with Bruno Ganz’s angel standing on top of the bombed out Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedchtniskirche, left in its ruinous state as memorial to “all victims of war”.




In a short montage we fly to Mehringplatz, a residential, now largely immigrant, working class part of Berlin.




As you can see the angel statue in the background is not at home right now.

Next some arial footage I couldn't possibly hope to replicate swoops round the radio tower, the Funkturm, over the International Conference Centre (which must be one of the most hideous buildings in the world), and flys into the tenement buildings on Dernburgstraße to see the lives of its inhabitants.



ICC building and Funkturm


ICC building




I had hoped to shoot some pics from the top of the Funkturm itself, however like seemingly half of Berlin while I was there, it was covered in scaffolding and closed. This is the current state too of the gold angel statue, Siegessäule, which is why I didn’t shoot any pictures of it. Apparently much of the city has been in this sorry state for nearly a year with building and restoration projects began and abandoned.

So on to the next location where Bruno Ganz meets up with fellow angel Otto Sanders in a luxury car showroom on Kurfürstendamm And it’s still a luxury car showroom today for BMW though the layout is very different. It’s across the road from the Paris Cinema which was, of course, closed and covered in scaffolding.




The next set of exteriors finds Ganz at the foot of a high rise block complex on Franz Klühs Straßea, a very short stroll away from Mehringplatz




and he discovers the Circus Alekan (named after the production’s veteran cinematographer).





Marion’s trailer


The site of Marion’s trailer today, approx

As you can see, this area has changed immensely. Once a bare piece of waste ground, now it’s a tree lined, landscaped park, with many of the surrounding buildings demolished and replaced. However it’s in a part of Berlin you’d never dream of visiting as a tourist, and this was one of the great things about this project, it took me to places which gave me a more rounded view of the place in a very short time.

Three important scenes take place on or under bridges, and the first of these involves the dying motorcyclist on the Langenscheidbrücke.










Looking towards the Julius-Leber-Brücke S-bahn station

Thanks to the gasometer I was able to find the location fairly easily.

5
General Discussion / Aldo Sambrell dies
« on: July 13, 2010, 11:51:08 AM »
Just heard that Western regular Aldo Sambrell has died in Alicane, aged 79. A memorable face and a splendid long career, with Leone and without, with a surprising writer/co-producer credit.

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/Necrologicas/Aldo/Sambrell/secundario/lujo/spaghetti/western/elpepinec/20100713elpepinec_2/Tes

http://uk.imdb.com/name/nm0759757/

6
Off-Topic Discussion / Mosfilm studio backlot
« on: March 17, 2010, 08:54:03 PM »


I've recently been digitising some of my photo archive. The scanner I bought to do this has turned out to be utterly wreched with colour negatives, but using paint Shop Pro is rather better with black and white. Here's a selection of shots I took on a visit to Mosfilm Studios, in south Moscow. They were probably shot in January or February 1994, certainly in the winter of 1993-1994. At that time the Russian economy was in freefall with frightening inflation, putting a halt on anything as frivolous as film making.



An air of gloom hung over the place, and out in the backlot I found this huge, abandoned film set. Like a frozen equivalent of Pompeii some of it was buried under months of snow with a few intriguing structures still visible.



Was this Venice or Saint Petersburg (which up till the year before had still been called Leningrad), cities who's architecture owes more to Constantinople and the Orient than ancient Greece and Rome? One distincly Roman looking building didn't seem to belong to rest and may have been used for another film, and to this day I haven't seen the movie any of these building were so expensivly constructed for.



Some were still strong enough to go inside where there were rooms which must have once housed interior sets with views of the towers, bridges and canals.



The delapidation was such that clearly they had stood here for a couple of winters at least, a relic from the last days of Soviet movie production.



At the time I wandered round the backlot quite blithely but looking back now it was a bit of a stupid thing to do. Nobody knew I was there, the place was utterly abandoned and there were several deep pits that I could have tumbled down, and those were just the ones I could see in the snow which was easily six foot deep in places. A night trapped down one of those and I'd have been a goner and probably not found until the thaw began in March (like a certain western (or horror) film bad guy)... Still, some of them have since been exhibited in UK galleries as part of my portfolio of my time in Moscow TOMORROW CITY.



The Mosfilm Studios logo was a small model of Vera Mukhina's massive, stainless steel skinned sculpture WORKER AND COLLECTIVE FARM GIRL, built for the 1937 World's Fair in Paris, just as The Terror was juddering into life. It would go head to head with Nazi sculptures by Albert Speer in the opposit German Pavilion in a battle of totalitarian art



The sculpure was later shifted to a bleak corner of VDNKh (the Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy), a large Moscow park, and I walked past it nearly every day on my way to and from VGIK where I was studying cinematography. A few years ago the sculpture was taken down for restoration, a project which seems to have no end, having already several times run out of the will or money to complete.



All black and white photos are copyright by John Rankin, AKA Juan Miranda

7
Off-Topic Discussion / John Phillip Law RIP
« on: May 15, 2008, 04:28:33 PM »
Co star of DEATH RIDES A HORSE, John Phillip Law died on Tuesday the 13th this week, he was just 70 years old:

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-law15-2008may15,0,4156367.story?track=rss

He'll also be remembered for roles in other movies such as DANGER:DIABOLIK and THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINDBAD, however he's still possibly best known as Pygar, the blind angel in the far out Fonda flick BARBARELLA. Not much cop in the acting skills department, but he was a good looking fella and as such a notable presence in whatever he was in. I see on the IMDB he was still performing in movies up 'till this year, in a new Western with another "old timer", Ernie Borgnine.

8
Off-Topic Discussion / Eureka (1983)
« on: April 24, 2008, 02:20:42 PM »
Gene Hackman plays gold prospector Jack McCann, a determined individualistic ego maniac (he always refers to himself in the third person) who we see violently struggling to break away from humanity, with the opening chilling lines yelled by his former partner, "Murder! Murder!"


The end

He sets off into the wilderness of Alaska alone. Freezing, he survives an attack by wolves when a meteorite handily lands nearby scaring away the pack. Clutching the heaven sent rock he staggers into an unlikely snow bound, Xanadu like brothel,complete with a chimney smoking as though fed with a hundred Rosebud sledges.


The spell of the Yukon

It's Madam is the dying consumptive Frieda, who seems to be able to see into the future via a crystal ball, warning Jack of his fate through a series of gnomic utterances. She and Jack once had a great romance in Paris, and it's through this split in their passions that the movie's preoccupation's are outlined. "Are you interested in men and women?" she asks, and later the supine miner reveals as couples joylessly copulate for money in the brothel, that for him "Gold smells stronger than a woman." With his luck seemingly changed after finding the meteorite, in one moment of unique and utterly dazzling fulfillment he then strikes it rich beyond his imagination. Jack's tragedy is however, in the words of Robert Service quoted at the end of the picture

"It isn't the gold that I'm wanting,
just so much as finding the gold."

and is cursed with, in Frieda's words, "some leftover life". Cut to the "the war" she predicted, and it's 1945. Jack, one of the wealthiest men in the world lives on Eureka, a private Caribbean island. However his wife is a bored alcoholic, his business associate is  tied into the Miami Mafia and his daughter, whom he has dangerously jealous and unhealthy feelings for is married to a refugee from Nazi occupied France whom he hates, the priaptic and smug Claude Malliot Van Horn.


There will be blood

Fatally the father, daughter and son in law form an obsessed triangle, oblivious to the machinations of the organized crime cabal determined to build a casino on the island closing in on them, and so the story becomes as Freda predicted "a mystery" with a horrifying and brutal murder.

Based loosely on the real life, unsolved killing of millionaire Harry Oakes, EUREKA can easily be described as one weird chunk of film making. So much so its studio United Artists had absolutely no idea what to do with thing and shelved it. This lead to the reclusive Roeg personally taking it into cinemas in an international roadshow event as a means of getting it to an audience. It was in this way that I first saw it in Glasgow in 1984, an experience which left me both bedazzled and baffled, unsure of what I had seen exactly.


Utterly weird

Written by Paul Mayersberg who also scripted Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, the film is blocked fairly neatly into three unequal acts. Act one takes place in the 1920's in the snowy, very wild western deserts of Alaska, with Jack the poor but tough and potent miner seeking the gold. Act two takes place during the last days of WWII in a tropical paradise, with Jack living an utterly pointless and dull existence while the "wolves" who were cheated in 1925 circle him again in the form of his own family and the Mafia. Like in an Agetha Christie whodunit everyone becomes a suspect, and has a motive for killing Jack. Act three is a (somewhat overlong) courtroom drama, and it's in this structure that some of the film's problems arise. The early scenes in act one are so cinematically brilliant, with Roeg creating what is arguably his greatest ever sequence when Jack finds the gold, that the rest of the movie feels a little bit of a let down, just as the rest of Jack's life feels a let down for him, like a man "struck by lightning". Mayersberg's dialogue equally has it's problems, it lurches from the embarrassing and painfully pretentious, to the brilliant, insightful and moving, often in the space of the same line.


Aren't lovers necessarily under the spell of each other?

Both Roeg and he are interested in all sorts of esoteric ideas which can easily tip into mumbo jumbo but this is often the staple of many a horror film. All the characters, Jack and his daughter played by Theresa Russell excepted, are seeking some higher "truth". Joe Pesci as the Mafia boss is a pious and philosophical practicing Jew (Pesci also played a Mafia boss for Leone of course in OUATIA, and both films were released the same year). His lawyer henchman, the twitchy Mickey Rourke is a devout Catholic who studies the Cabala. The doomed Frieda has second sight (and playing her, Helena  Kallianiotes is saddled with some of the worst dialogue). Jack's drunken wife (played by Jane Lapotaire) reads tarot cards. Rutgar Hauer as Claude is the most troubled, casting horoscopes, participating in "forbidden" voodoo ceremonies and also dabbling in the Cabala.


D'you do voodoo?

Claude remains the film's most enigmatic figure, a bisexual coward, hated by most of the other characters, "a man who can't pass a mirror without looking into it." Whereas Jack never seems to notice the cold in the Arctic, Claude twice complains of feeling chilled in the tropics. Like Jack he is (possibly) a gold digger of a different order. And yet as played by Hauer he is sympathetic, charismatic and compared to the rest of the eccentrics he is surrounded by, vulnerable, witty and disdainful of wealth, comparing Jack's gold to shit.


Mirror mask

Hauer's performance is one of the film's strengths, along with Gene Hackman's superb portrayal of Jack, a driven, violent and tender Old Testament prophet like figure, "I'm the fellow who knew what he wanted and went out and got it. Tough act to follow." he tells his wife, who once had it all, "Now I just have everything." He is often compared directly with Charles Foster Kane, sporting a similar mustache, married to a drunk wife, living in his own isolated "No Trespassing" signed mansion with his own emblematic snow dome which is smashed on his death. This murder scene suddenly appearing in such a consciously "artistic" film is a real surprise and shock in it's savagery, protracted length and gore, and whenever I've seen it at the cinema there are many in the audience who can't bare to watch it.

CITIZEN KANE, THE GOLD RUSH, RICH AND STRANGE are all referenced, but the movies most often quoted by Roeg are his own. Indeed his block of work, WALAKABOUT, DON'T LOOK NOW, THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, BAD TIMING, EUREKA and to some extent INSIGNIFICANCE all seem to be remakes of the same film. Unlike Jack McCann, Roeg certainly is "interested in men and women".


Mrs. Roeg

His young wife Theresa Russell is superb in the picture, stunning to look at, though Roeg over indulges her performance in places, allowing her to become shrill and irritating in the court scene. Another of the film's stars is Alex (DEATH LINE) Thomson's stunning cinematography, with Roeg himself operating the camera in some scenes. A former cinematographer himself of course (MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH) Roeg's films (up to a date) always looked fabulous, and along with Leone and Robert Altman, he was one of the few directors who really understood how and when to use a zoom lens to heighten emotion. It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Roeg's other films that EUREKA is erotic, brutal, puzzling and closes with a vivid feeling of melancholy and tragic nostalgia. A very bloody masterpiece, and sadly Roeg's last truly great picture.


The lost traveller

9
Off-Topic Discussion / Don't Look Now (1973)
« on: February 28, 2008, 04:31:08 PM »
I'm a huge horror film fan as some of you may know. For years I've been a bit obsessed with the movie DON'T LOOK NOW, a Brit horror film made in 1973 starring Donald Sutherland, Julie Christie and Venice.

I know the city reasonably well, and as such on a trip there in November last year, I tried to track down and photograph as many of the locations used by director Nicolas Roeg as I could. He mostly used parts of the city that are well off any tourist maps, and when discovered today are often weirdly deserted, like abandoned fake studio sets.

These 35mm pics have proved to be quite popular with some galleries, and I'm currently exhibiting some of my Venice pics in Leeds and Birmingham:

http://www.clairegalleries.co.uk/artist.aspx?id=86

This is an ongoing project though, as there are a few places in the city I've yet to chase up. I hope to go back next winter (Roeg famously shot the film in an freezing, out of season Venice) with a large format camera and really get into the red dwarf's lair in a new way.


Campo San Stae (the last location used in the film)


Invidia (Envy)


Ponte Vinanti

10
A Fistful of Dollars / The lost opening. Sir Chris exclusive
« on: October 31, 2007, 06:33:57 PM »
I wasn't sure where to put this, as it refers to a few Leone pictures, but this section seemed the most apt. I was at a screening of newly restored print of Hammer's 1957 DRACULA tonight, which was attended by some of the surviving cast and crew, including it's script writer Jimmy Sangster. Our old chum Sir Chris Frayling has been interviewing Jimmy and writing about the movie in the UK all this week, so I kinda hoped/expected to see him there, and indeed he was.

There was a party for Jimmy and the cast before the screening, with rivers of booze, I'm glad to say, and when I spotted Sir Chris on his own I wandered over for a chat. I've been bugged for ages by those stills of Indio and his gang cavorting with women in their church hideout, and I wanted to hear what Sir Chris thought what the hell was going on.

(see here: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=4969.0)

He looked totally blank and asked where I'd seen these stills. I said on the gallery section of the special edition DVD. He suddenly looked a bit sheepish and said “You mean the special edition DVD I did the commentary on?” and admitted that he's never actually looked at that bit of the DVD, but was glad I'd pointed it out to him. His guess is that they may have been photographs shot for some other purpose than promoting the film, as a personal in joke, for example. He has a complete shooting script for the production, and said what was in the script is pretty much what you see on the screen. The only major difference was that the character of Mortimer was originally supposed to be a rather decadent dandy type, who when first seen is reading a copy of Lord Byron's poems. This was changed with Van Cleef's casting.

This led Sir Chris to his most interesting revelation. He has Carlo Simi's personal shooting script for A FISTFULL OF DOLLARS, all in Italian of course, and it has a completely different opening broken down into shots and details. (I'm pretty sure he said it was Simi, I'd had a few beers by then...) Therefor he is convinced that this was actually filmed, but discarded during editing, and is now determined to try and track down some or all of the footage. Also, as this is new research, it's something he hasn't written about yet. Obviously this is NOT “the prologue” mentioned elsewhere on the board, but a scene shot by Leone starring Clint Eastwood.

The script opens with a close up of a map of the Mexican border. Cut to Clint riding a horse, dressed in a dusty Confederate uniform. His crosses a river with the elaborate splish splashing these things usually entail, and comes across a Mexican peasant fishing, who is wearing a poncho, with a mule tethered near by. Eastwood dismounts, the camera pans off the pair and we hear the usual sound effects of a Spaghetti western scuffle. Cut to Clint now on the mule, wearing the poncho and the peasant clothes. Cut to the beaten up peasant in his underwear, coming round next to a discarded Confederate uniform, who angrily shakes his fists at the retreating Eastwood.

It was a great description, and Frayling could have been Leone himself the way he delivered it. He then told me of another script he has for GIU LA TESTA which had a very odd opening. Originally the picture was supposed to start with a highly stylized cartoon sequence, in which we see Juan Miranda plowing a field, then suddenly on the edge of the frame a dynamite plunger appears and a booted foot stamps down on it causing an explosion from which appears the title DUCK YOU SUCKER. We both agreed it was a good thing this was never done! If nothing else it would look hideously dated now.

When I left Sir Chris he promised he was going to check out the FAFDM stills when he got home tonight. It was fab talking to him, he was such a friendly and approachable guy. I'm going to get in touch with him again in a couple of days to see if he has any new opinion on 'em. Amazing too just how much new Leone material there obviously still is out there to be discovered.

11
Off-Topic Discussion / Satyricon
« on: October 19, 2007, 05:30:09 PM »
This 2 page review contains major spoilers.

In the summer of Love, following the massive financial success of his westerns A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD ,THE BAD AND THE UGLY, producer Alberto Grimaldi was keen to expand his portfolio due a lucrative deal with Warner Bros in the US, securing him a personal fee of a million dollars per picture. With legendary director Federico Fellini recovering from a near death illness, and estranged from his former funder Dino De Laurentiis, Grimaldi sensing an opportunity approached him with a deal. This lead to Fellini testing his creativity again on a short film TOBY DAMMIT, which Grimaldi co-produced and made money on, and then to a feature film set in ancient Rome.


City of night

Based on a novel by Petronius which has survived only in fragments, expectations of the sword and sandal epics so expertly churned out for decades by Italian cinema talent, including Sergio Leone himself, may have been anticipated.  Fellini confounds such notions however, as he largely ignores the archeological ancient Rome glimpsed in the likes of LA DOLCE VITA and ROMA, or the Classical look of BEN HUR, and instead puts on screen the world inside his own head, a place of gigantic baths, brothels and temples populated by selfish and cruel chancers.


Gitone. The heart of a whore

Split almost neatly in two halves, the script by Fellini and Bernardino Zapponi is itself fragmented like it's source text, consisting of a series of episodes which never quite flow together, in which characters randomly appear and vanish. Indeed some scenes could easily be shuffled to appear earlier or later without damaging what continuity exists. The first fifty or so minutes take place in Rome, almost entirely at night or twilight, in interiors. It follows the battle over a jail bait boy between two male characters who call themselves "students", but are really criminals and opportunists. In the second half we find they have all been captured as slaves on a galley ship, and following their escape from this fate they're embroiled in a series of picaresque adventures. This half takes place mostly in the open, on oceans, beaches and deserts in (often blazing) daylight.


The clown Vernacchio

The picture opens on a wall covered with scratchy Roman graffiti, in front of which stands the film's main character, Encolpio, who bewails the fact that his young lover Gitone has been stolen from him by his former best friend Ascylto. He tracks him down to a vast terme, and following a fight reclaims the boy, who has been sold to a grotesque theater company starring a bloated farting clown who amputates a quivering simpleton's limb live on stage. On the way back to Encolpio's room the reunited couple pass through a  titanic brothel, a sequence so packed with detail, incident, colour, light, squalor and camera movement that it could stand alone as a masterpiece of cinema, and leaves the viewer so bombarded with impressions  and sensations that both elation and near exhaustion are induced with the film barely seventeen minutes old.


In the brothel

That Fellini and his collaborators managed to top this sequence just a couple of scenes later is a minor miracle and propels SATYRICON into masterpiece status. After losing his catamite to Ascylto yet again, Encolpio meets the poet Eumolpo at a gallery, who takes him to a banquet thrown by a wealthy business man, the vulgar Trimalchio. It is at this feast that Fellini creates possibly his greatest sequence, with a whole parade of wonders, both hideous (with an acid palate of reds, oranges, blues and greens) and astounding in it's invention.


Tremalchio's guests enjoy his lake


Tremalchio's feast


Tremalchio and his children


Stalinist art

Like Trimalchio's stuffed and satiated guests we leave this banquet dazed, and the first "night" half of the picture ends, and we find ourselves in the horrors of the "day", with our trio of "heroes" enslaved, passive objects.

Like the galley in BEN HUR, Petronius's ship is commanded by a man of questionable sexuality. Unlike Jack Hawkins however, there is no ambiguity of taste about Lichas. Played by Alain Cuny, he is a huge, one eyed sadist who loves wrestling men to death. Taking a fancy to Encolpio he marries him in a ceremony in which he dresses as the "bride". It is following this pirate interlude that, I must admit, the film begins to flag and disintegrate a little. Gitone vanishes almost unnoticed as a spoil of war. Encolpio and Ascylto wander aimlessly, sharing a girl in an abandoned villa who's owners have committed suicide (the fate of Petronius himself), stealing a "demi-god" hoping to sell him, encountering a Minotaur and so on. The sets, costumes and extras become sparser, the whole thing quieter as even the dialogue slacks off.


Encolpio's wedding

12
Ennio Morricone / Morricone MP3's
« on: October 06, 2007, 03:12:05 PM »
Has this site been mentioned so far? Not been on the board much of late.

http://mondomorricone.blogspot.com/

A mix of Morricone, Spags, Euro trash and other Italian stuff to download.

13
Saturday 4th August, as part of the "London's Cinema Under the Stars" season, GBU is being screened in the grand courtyard of Somerset House:

http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/film/default.asp

Won't be in London then so I'll miss it, but if the summer continues the way it has been so far, it'll be "London's Cinema Under a Deluge of Apocalyptic Rain."

14
Off-Topic Discussion / Bergman dead at 89
« on: July 30, 2007, 03:32:51 AM »
Woke up this morning to the news that Ingmar Bergman is dead. Although he reached quite a grand age, it is still sad to hear.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6921960.stm

According to some of his later statements, his many long years of life had at least lead him to some sense of peace of and purpose in existence, something many of charaters were never able to achieve.

To say his was an irreplaceable talent is a vast understatement.

15
Other Films / Blowing Wild
« on: May 02, 2007, 06:01:27 PM »
Caught this curiosity today, which I'd never heard of before. A peculiar mix of Tex-Mex Western and Film Noir, with giant plot wedges carved straight out of THE TERASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (made five years earlier), and not as the title suggests, a tawdry 1970's porn film.

Gary Cooper, Ward Bond and Anthony Quinn are all south of the border, down Mexico way. Cooper and Bond re-enact the opening third of TREASURE, sinking all their money into a destroyed business, ending up penniless and (in Bond's case) begging money from “a fellow American”, ultimately taking a hazardous job and almost being cheated out of their wages. Cue a TREASURE style bar-room brawl with the welshing employer. So far, so dreadfully familiar.

The pair suddenly stumble across Quinn, an old compadre from the past. The three men have been in search of oil riches all these years, and it turns out that Quinn has indeed hit black gold and struck it rich. Appropriate to the colour of oil, this is where the Noir begins. The trouble is he is married to the woman from Gary Cooper's past, the grasping, dead eyed Barbara Stanwyck .

Chuck a "Gold Hat" style bandito into the Mex Mix, determined to wring every cent he can from Quinn in extortion money or else he will blow up his hard won oil wells, and an explosive shuffle of allegiances ensues. Not so much a good, bad and ugly as the good (Cooper) the damaged (Bond) and the defeated (Quinn). Love, or rather lust, is the defining factor determining the fate of the three companieros here, with Bond and Cooper forming the classic dominant man/asexual man partnership (indeed Bond ends up physically crippled) of the Western, and Quinn/Cooper making up the typical Noir male rivalry for the same woman, with one man oblivious to the attraction until it's too late.



The film is packed with images of a neurotic and near hysteric landscape of phallic oil wells pumping up wealth and desire (weird pre-cursers of WRITTEN ON THE WIND and TOUCH OF EVIL), and a further Noir touch is added with a romantic sub-plot between the ancient Cooper and young enough to be his daughter Ruth Roman, ripped straight from TO HAVE AND TO HAVE NOT. Today this mish-mash of blatantly stolen plots and styles make the film seem almost Post Modern. It's certainly a major curio, and worth watching just for Barbara Stanwyck alone. She invests more energy into her role than the material deserves, exuding extraordinary energy and presence even in moments when she stands perfectly still. Quinn, too, who would give his greatest ever performance the following year in Fellini's LA STRADA is incredible as the former tough guy, grown childish, bewildered, soft and even cowardly by his Capitalist success. Cooper, who had won his second Oscar the year before for HIGH NOON is quite poor here, possibly due to illness, or even lack of interest in the material?

Despite it's over familiar opening and truly awful, constantly intrusive narrative song by Frankie Laine, this is well worth searching for. A quick look at the crew benind it reveals a pretty much B director and cinematographer, but who do we see as screenwriter? Philip Yordan, who also wrote the eternally controversial JOHNNY GUITAR the next year, as well as the equally sexually charged THE NAKED JUNGLE, THE BIG COMBO and the equally Freudian THE MAN FROM LARAMIE. Clearly Yordan was the real autuer of this picture.


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