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Topics - Marco Leone

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16
Yes, its review time again! This week I am spouting my thoughts on :

VIVA DJANGO
"Whilst Viva Django is one of many Spaghetti Westerns to steal the "Django" moniker following the success of Corbucci's classic, this particular outing is a rarity in that it both captures the mood and effect of the original and actually contains the same character.

The story presumably acts as a prequel to the Corbucci movie, with Django (on this occasion played by Terence Hill) hellbent on revenge following the murder of his wife at the hands of Lucas (George Eastman) and his gang. Django was sold-out by his former friend and politician David Barry (Horst Frank).

Years have passed and Django is acting as the local hangman, whose job is to execute 'innocent' locals who have been framed by Barry for the thefts carried out on his behalf by the Lucas gang. Both are unaware that Django is faking the executions, and recruiting the condemned for his act of revenge.

Few of these men can be trusted however, and whilst Django's back is turned (during the rescue of the innocent wife of one of the group members from the hangman's noose) a number sabotage Django's plot and beat Lucas' gang to a proposed ambush of a cash shipment. I shall ruin the plot no more.......

This is perhaps Terence Hill's greatest role (albeit in effect playing Franco Nero playing Django) as I personally often find his slapstick styling of later movies difficult to grasp. Here however he oozes class, clad all in black and convincingly playing the character second only to the Man With No Name for pure charisma. The rest of the cast is also a real treat - with both Eastman and Frank as brilliant as ever. Eastman's characters alway manage to be quite likable regardless of their bad morals and actions, whilst Frank just oozes with evil. Two of the great great supporting actors of the genre.

Ferdinando Baldi's direction also merits much credit, managing to both keep the feel of Corbucci's original whilst also firmly stamping the movie with his own "comic book action" trademark. The final scene in the graveyard deserves particular mention - a real "fist in the air" moment of excitement, with some great dialogue also.

Gianfranco Reverbi provides a really recognisable score, and the title theme track "You'd Better Smile" will stick in the head for days. And quite rightly so! Whilst not all the Django films are worthy of much mention at all, this particular Django is one that should most definitely be viewed. Great entertainment".

Feel free to cast your own vote at the poll at http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns/reviews/vivadjango.html

17
This weeks write up commences .........

DEATH PLAYED THE FLUTE
This is an extremely entertaining film from a director (Angelo Pannaccio) and cast that I know very little about.

Burton (Michael Forest) returns to his ranch to find his family have been raped and murdered by a gang of cattle rustlers, with his daughter Susie the only survivor. Vowing revenge, Burton soon encounters a lone gunslinger, known as Whistler on account of his flute playing, who indicates that he saw the faces of the culprits. Burton does not realise that Whistler was part of the gang that night, and agrees to pay him to help him track down the murderers. The gunslinger has his own agenda, and agrees to Burton's proposal.

The two start to track down the gang, but Burton soon becomes suspicious once Whistler starts to kill the gang members before they can talk.

This is a very dark film throughout, with the grim scene set right from the outset as the gang graphically attack the family ranch. The movie's black theme is suitably set by its compelling guitar driven soundtrack, with its quirks owing as much to the horror film industry as it does to the Italian western.

At times the editing leaves much to be desired, but lets face it that can be quite an expected (and somehow appealing) trademark of the spaghetti western genre. It certainly doesn't detract from the feel and mood of the film.

The character of the flute playing Whistler is a very interesting one. Despite his prowess with the gun (and of course the flute!) he always seems to demonstrate a level of vulnerability. And on the English soundtrack rarely speaks without a nervous laugh.

In summary, this film is gripping throughout, with its dark and bitter mood continuing until its great climax. It is not a movie that I had previously heard of, and in such cases I am usually dubious as to the likely quality. However, this turned out to be a really pleasant surprise, with a compelling yet grim and downbeat feel. For those searching for a hidden gem, I would definitely recommend it as a film to try and unearth.

Note - If you have seen it, feel free to rate it via the poll on http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns/reviews/deathplayedtheflute.html


18
Other Films / Reviews
« on: August 14, 2005, 12:10:41 PM »
Cheers to all you guys and gals that comment from time to time on the reviews that I post here (whether you agree with my comments or not).

As you know, I post them also on my site at http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns on the Spaghetti Western tab. For each one I have (quite painstakingly) added a poll, to try and gauge the general opinion on the films. So it would be great if some of you could visit and vote on the films, if you get a chance. Oh, I know I should have something better to do, but the work on my site keeps me away from those other jobs (decorating etc) hehe.

19
Off-Topic Discussion / New Chat Room
« on: August 06, 2005, 03:59:57 AM »
Well folks, I've set up a live chat room, which can either be accessed from my site, or direct from http://www.lhcw.net/EuroWesterns if anyone fancies any real time conversations!

20
Off-Topic Discussion / Heads..... You Lose
« on: July 31, 2005, 07:42:41 AM »
If anyone is interested, I've opened up a new forum within http://www.bbfun.com/index.php?mforum=marcoleone where the contributers can add to a spaghetti western story.  So far, myself and Groggy have been writing "Heads.... You Lose".

Basically, where the last person left off the next person carries the story on.

Alternatively, anyone can start up a fresh story.

Feel free to visit and contribute.  The more people involved, I'm sure the story will go off in different directions!

21
Other Films / Django Against Sartana
« on: July 13, 2005, 12:40:41 PM »
Its my weekly review!  This time.... Django Against Sartana

"Django (Tony Kendall) returns to his hometown of Tombstone to find his brother, local banker Steve, hanging from a noose. Steve has been executed following accusations that he had teamed up with Sartana (George Ardisson) to empty the safe of the bank, and had assisted his new colleague in the murder of bank manager Mr Singer (Bernard Faber). In reality, Singer had entrusted Steve with the task of confronting Sartana, and paying him to leave Tombstone rather than raiding the bank. A disgusted Sartana refuses this offer.

Believing his brother to be innocent, Django sets out in pursuit of Sartana to discover the truth. The two heavy-weight protagonists stand face to face in combat, before learning that all is not as it seems with Singer's murder, and team up on a quest for justice and revenge.

On locating a copy of "Django Against Sartana" I was immediately convinced that it would be a low budget, fairly average flick, name-checking the established characters in a vain effort to generate interest. But there is no denying that my squinting eyes display the threatening figures of Django and Sartana in front of me. It must be said however, a recent visit to the opticians had highlighted that I have clearly needed glasses for sometime (yet my vanity had prevented it). Reaching for said specs soon confirmed my original expectations - this Django is certainly no Nero (and not even a Hill or Steffen), and Sartana is no Garko. We are talking Z-list Django and Sartana here! Only the vague costume resemblance provides a hint to the identity of these feared gunfighters.

Despite my obvious mickey-taking, I must say that I did really enjoy this film - probably largely because it was such an unintentional parody of the genre to which it belongs (it certainly wasn't for the wooden character acting!). The story did provide some great entertainment though, even if it was fairly predictable. I did also enjoy the effect of the freeze-frame grand entrance of the main characters.

However...... I couldn't hold my hand to my heart and recommend it to anyone. And I guess, truth be told, I never thought I would be able to".

22
I recently got hold of the complete set of Joe Millard's Dollars books, and have duplicates now of 3 paperbacks - The Good the Bad and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More and A Coffin Full of Dollars.

I tried to sell them on ebay, but no-one was interested. So, I'm happy to give them away to anyone else in the UK, if you let me have a cheque for £2, just to cover p&p.

If anyone is interested, drop me an email and I'll let you know where to post it to.

23
Its time for this weeks review!   ;D

RINGO - FACE OF REVENGE

This film starts with that Almeria backdrop that we love so much.  Ringo (Anthony Steffen) and his colleague Davy (Eduardo Fajardo) rescue Fidel (Armando Calvo) from a certain death at the hands of a posse of gunhands.  Their motive?  Well it had nothing to do with Fidel's safety, but an assumption that there must be a reason that the gang would be so keen to pursue him.

This intuition is well founded.  Once they have rescued Fidel for a second time - after a full on bar brawl - they discover that he has a map tattooed on his back.  It turns out to be just half of a map for hidden gold, with the second half on the back of a crook-turned-sheriff following a pact whilst the two were captive in prison.  The aptly named "Trikie"(Frank Wolff) has overheard the conversation, and insists on joining the three on the trail of the gold.  The group succesfully track down the Sherriff, who double crosses them - the first of many double-crosses as they follow the map and the film develops.

"Ringo - Face of Revenge" is pretty watchable, although in truth fairly average spaghetti fare.  With not a hint of revenge!  The story itself has many twists and turns that succesfully kept my attention, but the actual delivery of Caiano's direction seemed often lacking.  I couldn't help feel that certain scenes were simply added in to cement the gaps in the story, and help the viewer realise what was actually going on (but unfortunately the cement was weak and lacked substance).

That said, there are some great scenes - my favourite being the moment when the captured group decide that the only way to prevent the double crossing sherriff from learning the secret of the other half of the map is to burn the tattoo off of Fidel's back.  Ouch!

As far as the acting is concerned, Fajardo really excels in the role of the eccentric Davy.  Both Wolff and Steffen on the otherhand both appear quite subdued (although, I guess that was largely Steffen's style).

If you enjoyed "Some Dollars for Django" you will probably enjoy this movie also, as it has a similar feel (and not just because of Steffen's lead role).  To me it remains in that group of westerns that I quite enjoy watching, but would be in no particular rush to watch again.

24
Off-Topic Discussion / Fistful of Travellers Cheques
« on: July 07, 2005, 12:27:33 PM »
Great stuff for us Uk people. Finally after all these years, all of the great "Comic Stip Presents" episodes have been released on a 9 disc DVD set. Including the classic Spaghetti Western parody "Fistful of Travellers Cheques". Superb stuff!

25
Trivia Games / Create Your Own Spaghetti Western
« on: July 01, 2005, 03:42:43 PM »
New section added to my site ( http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns ).  Click on the "FUN" link.

Impress your friends by telling them you have discovered some rare and hard to find Euro-Western.   But really, you have just used my Spaghetti Western generator to make up some movie that never really existed.

Mock as they spend ages trawling IMDB, and embarrasing themselves by asking for details of it on the Spaghetti Western Web Board.

26
Here's this weeks review effort!

"As soon as the Forgotten Pistolero starts, the theme tune is instantly familiar - with the whistled score probably surpassed only by Morricone's Dollars trilogy soundtracks, or maybe the Magnificent Seven, when it comes to being used as the backdrop to western sketches everywhere. It is made all the more beautiful by the mountainous Almeria backdrop.

The film itself is equally impressive. Directed by the prolific Ferdinando Baldi, it begins with Rafael (Pietro Martellanza) being pursued by a gang of Mexicans. Surviving the ambush (to the sound of that glorious theme), he finds himself finally locating child-hood friend Sebastian (Leonard Mann).

Sebastian is informed that the woman he believed to be his mother, and who had raised him since a child, had in fact rescued him as an infant from the brutal attack and mass murder that had cost his father his life. Rafael tells him that this attack had been arranged by his real mother (Paluzzi) and her lover.

Sebastian's sister, who had witnessed the massacre all those years ago, had since fallen in love with Rafael (for which he had been severely punished and hounded). The extent of this punishment becomes clear later in the movie when, whilst captive, he is forced to lie next to a beautiful lady, and taunted that he now only has his muscles to prove his manhood.

This revenge story follows a different path to the majority of Euro-westerns, with emphasis on the tale rather than action (that said, there are some great action scenes). It is a highly captivating and atmospheric movie, gripping from start to finish. Well worth the watch, and undoubtedly Baldi's best work. But - warning - you'll be whistling the music for days!".

27
And heres my scribbling of my weekly Spaghetti Western viewing!  This time, its The Belle Starr Story" :

This film is a rarity in the euro-western genre, in that it has a female lead. Whilst I know very little about the real life "bandit queen" Belle Starr, I gather that the story itself bears little resemblance to actual events (although the rumoured father of her first child - Cole Younger - becomes her rustling partner Cole Harvey in this movie).

The story itself begins with a game of poker between Belle (played by the fantastically foxy Elsa Martinelli) and equally renowned bandit Larry Blackie (with George Eastman as endearing as ever). Having already won all of her money, Blackie offers Belle a final game with her body being the only thing she has left to gamble. She throws the game, disposing of her best cards and leaving her at Blackie's mercy (and bed). From here on, the story concentrates on the relationship between the pair - which is sometimes loving, sometimes rough, but always displaying great rivalry.

The film is in two parts, the first relaying Belle's past to Blackie in flashback, with the second half containing more action as the two rivals each aim to loot a transportation of diamonds.

The flashbacks in the film are particularly engaging, as you gradually learn how Belle Starr gained her bandit queen reputation. However the second half is also a good view (with Blackie's torture at the hands of the Pinkertons a particularly well filmed scene). Even when the film does reach the occasional point of mediocrity, the fine interplay between Eastman and Martinelli prevails.

Not a classic, but all in all a highly enjoyable western worthy of my recommendation".

28
Off-Topic Discussion / Further Forum
« on: June 08, 2005, 01:53:27 PM »
One of the things I have added to http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/spaghettiwesterns as a trial is a forum to chat about Euro-westerns (reviews, comments and general chit chat).  Its not in anyway in competition to the great Leone forum we have here (which obviously concentrates on the Leone movies) or the Spaghetti Western board (which is a great resource of real SW knowledge) but moreso just meant as a place for a bit of fun, joke and chat about Euro-westerns.  Sort of like a Euro-western coffee morning..... but without the coffee.

Anyway, at the moment it has just the one member (me, funnily enough).  So if anyone fancies joining up and starting something, or just dropping by and chatting, it would be great.  As I say, its just a trial, and if it doesn't work out, I'll remove it.

The direct link is http://www.bbfun.com/index.php?mforum=marcoleone or you can access it from my site (link below).

Cheers guys n gals!

29
Other Films / Sartana(1968):review and plot reconstruction
« on: June 08, 2005, 01:23:20 PM »
And here's my latest review......

"Sartana (played superbly by John Garko) has one of the greatest entrances on screen of all the Spaghetti protagonists. When accused of looking like a scarecrow, he utters the classic line "I am your pallbearer" before gunning down all the bandits facing him. A classic moment, with the black clad Sartana setting the scene perfectly for this Gothic tinged western.

The story itself is a very complicated affair, and one which I'm not completely sure I followed from beginning to end (I blame the wine consumption). In simple terms, the story evolves around a stagecoach robbery and murder (with the culprits themselves hijacked and massacred by Lasky - played by the ever brilliant William Berger - and his gang). Enter Sartana, in the midst of further double crossing and more double crossing. And cue bloodshed aplenty!

Sartana combines the gadgetry of Parolini's later Sabata movies, with the darkness and brutality of Django. There are classic performances from Garko and Berger together with the familiar faces of Fernando Sancho and Klaus Kinski.

The success of Sartana is clearly demonstrated by the string of sequels (and name-checks) that followed. And rightly so, the character is in equal parts cool, mysterious and deadly. Much like the film. I just wish I understood it better (time to put away the bottle, and rewind the video perhaps)".

Any reviews or comments would be appreciated, as always, at the webpage below.

30
Other Films / Uccidete Johnny Ringo aka Kill Johnny Ringo (1966)
« on: June 01, 2005, 01:21:49 PM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060589/


And now the review for this little known Spaghetti Western :

"Texas Ranger Johnny Ringo (Brett Halsey) is sent to investigate and expose a counterfeiting ring in the town of Eagle Pass, following the theft of plates from the Federal Bank. The town is owned by Jackson (Dessy) who, along with his gang of hoods and other respected townsfolk, is responsible for this counterfeiting operation.

As well as owning the town, Jackson "owns" local performer Annie (Polyn), who has a secret relationship with one of the counterfeiters, Ray Scott (Fuscagni). Once Jackson becomes aware of this affair, he plans for Ray to be the man that swings on a noose for the crime. But Ray is also the key man in Ringo's investigation, and the link to identify the real culprits.

This is quite an obscure western that feels more American than European, although the soundtrack is clearly one of the Spaghetti Western genre (albeit, by no means with the class of Morricone). The cast play their roles quite competently, and in particular the relationship between Ray and both Annie (his lover) and his sister Christine (Loy) provides an effective and integral part of the story.

The film itself is fairly watchable, although letdown by some seriously bad editing (this may, of course, be restricted to the version I have seen). There are moments where I became quite hooked on the story, and throughout believed that some great excitement may be ahead. But in truth, it never really reached this pinnacle. In summary "Kill Johnny Ringo" is quite a passable way to spend a few hours, but is in no way going to mount a challenge for the best film you have seen (either ever, this year, or quite possibly this month!)".

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