Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

Traditional, Artsy, Genre-Within-Genre: A Little Something for Everyone

Blog News #2

From Tony Nash

Hello to my subscribers, those I’m subscribed to, and any curious onlookers

From November 29th to December 30th, I will be taking a vacation from the Blog to enjoy the Holiday season with my family and my best friend. I’ll still be watching movies on and off so I’ll have stuff to write about come the New Year, but generally I’ll be focusing on watching Holiday related films and specials. Over the Summer my folks and I moved from Philly PA to Ocean City NJ so right now I’ll be focusing on decorating and enjoying the season, making our new house our home.

In the New Year I’ll be rotating between the Western Wednesdays series and my new series’ The Cycle of the Melodic Gialli, centering on the Italian Mystery Thriller franchise, and Poliziotto e Criminale: The Poliziotteschi of the 1970’s, centering on the Cop and Gangster films Italy made in the wake of The French Connection. If anyone would like to see me write about a particular film from either sub-genre, just let me know in the comments below (as always keep the comments and requests fair and reasonable). Owning a Region Free Blu Ray player allows me to view Blu Rays and DVDs from the UK, Germany, and Italy, so there’s always a likelihood the film requested will be available on some format.

Getting into this blog again has been a real pleasure, and I’ll be looking forward to expanding come 2019.

Everyone be safe and have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Boxing Day. For anyone celebrating Holidays other than those listed above,, have a happy and safe time.

Thank you all for the great year.

Filed under: Annoucements

The Swindle to End All Swindles:

Sartana Foots the Bill

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Spoilers may be present)

(This review is of the Italian language version of the film)

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Buon Funerale Amigos!….Paga Sartana (Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay) (1970) PG-13 ****1/2

Gianni Garko: Sartana

Antonio Vilar: Banker Ronald Hoffman

Daniela Giordano: Jasmine Benson

George Wang: Lee Tse Tung

Luis Induni: The Sheriff of Indian Creek (as Luis Hinduni)

Helga Liné: Mary, the Saloon Woman (as Elga Liné)

Ivano Staccioli: Deputy Sheriff Blackie

Franco Pesce: The Undertaker of Indian Creek

Franco Ressel: Samuel Piggot

Federico Boido: Jim Piggot (as Rick Boyd)

Jean-Pierre Clarain: Elmo Piggot

Robert Dell’Acqua: Frank Piggot

Rocco Lerro: Ralph Piggot

Aldo Berti: Colorado Joe

Attilio Dottesio: Joe Benson

Written by: Giovanni Simonelli (story credit as Jean Simon) & Roberto Gianviti

Directed by: Giuliano Carnimeo (as Anthony Ascott)

Synopsis: After several prospectors are murdered when it’s believed they’ve found gold in an abandoned mine, gambler and gunslinger Sartana is determined to find those responsible. When he discovers a plot involving both a Sheriff and a Bank Manager, Sartana must play his hands very carefully. The question is, is what the dead men discovered really what it is?

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The fourth Sartana film in the franchise and the third film for actor Gianni Garko proved to be an interesting hybrid of Gianfranco Parolini’s original and Giuliano Carnimeo’s subsequent “Western James Bond” sequels. This go-around has Sartana investigating the seemingly senseless murder of a group of prospectors who’ve supposedly found a vein of gold in a worthless area of town. As he digs deeper into the crime he discovers several interested parties in the land including the city’s Bank Manager, The town Sheriff, and a Chinese immigrant running the local gambling house. When the niece of one of the dead men comes to town to inherit, Sartana has to work quickly to resolve all issues. What makes this Sartana film interesting as with its predecessors is the seemingly endless string of red herrings, false leads, and more questions then answers to a very suspiciously simple case of ownership and validity. While films one and two of the franchise did this very well, this one takes all that an extra mile as it’s clear there’s something totally else going on that not even Sartana is giving hints to, making audiences wonder what the true story really is to all this. The Mystery aspect to all the Sartana films, with the exception of the third film starring George Hilton, makes for a very interesting ride as few Italian Westerns toyed with what was really going in the story and were fairly straightforward.

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Gianni Garko, the original and best Sartana, goes back to the roots of the first film, while also gaining some new traits. In his opening scene, after dispatching a couple of hired killers, Sartana comes upon a wad of cash from one of the dead prospectors, and throws it into the burning house rather than keep it. While a gambler at heart, Garko plays up this Sartana with an essence of honor, clearly not wanting to take from the dead. Garko also adds a sense of justice to Sartana, as while he didn’t personally know the one dead man, he firmly believes no one should be killed in cold blood. The addition of a romantic side to Sartana is a nice and welcomed departure to the traditional Anti-Hero characteristics normally associated to such characters. This shows the character has some degree of humanity and is not just about gaining money. The mixture of the phantasm qualities of the first film and the gadget trickery of the subsequent sequels offers a unique difference to the character of Sartana as he’s at once mysterious, clever, and witty all at the same time. Garko wasn’t initially impressed with the change of the character from the first film to its sequels, but later did come to appreciate the three he appeared in.

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Antonio Vilar, another South American actor who found success in Spain and other parts of Europe, does quite well in the role of Hoffman the banker. Vilar play the character in the tradition of the slimy aristocrat often not willing to get his own hands dirty in the schemes he concocts, but actually will when the situation calls for it. In spite of success as Indian Creek’s Bank Manager, the idea of gaining possession of a crusty old prospector’s claim of having found gold is too much even for him. Working out a nice deal between himself, the Sheriff, and a lady Saloon Owner, Vilar’s Hoffman character creates what he believes to be a full proof scheme to keep suspicion off himself and others. It is only when Sartana shows up that this plan begins to unravel and Hoffman begins blaming others for a scheme doomed to get found out. Ironically, Vilar’s Hoffman actually had a good deal of side plans for when others failed, showing he did prepare for most eventualities, making him a better than average sophisticated baddie.

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George Wang, a Cantonese-American actor who found mild success in Europe, is a surprise in the role of Lee Tse Tung. While Westerns were known for fairly stereotypical portrayals of both Native Americans and Asian immigrants, Wang as Tung is free of all dated and incorrect concepts of how Asians appeared and behave. Wang portrays Tung as a Confucius quoting businessman who owns and operates the town’s only casino. What makes this character unique is while Wang has Tung as generally tranquil and gentlemanly, there’s something clearly two-faced about him that makes the audience, and even Sartana, consistently weary of what his actual interest is in the events unfolding. Luis Induni, a Spanish actor born in Italy, gets a rare opportunity for a substantial role with the part of the Sheriff of Indian Creek. Like with Wang as Tung, Induni as the Sheriff is a double-dealing character also corrupted by the allure of gold. What makes Induni’s character different and tragic from the ones played by Vilar and Wang is that the Sheriff was clearly a good and decent man who somehow got caught up in the get rich quick scheme for the money out near the prospector’s place.

Buon funerale amigos!... paga Sartana (1970)

What gives the film an extra leg up in the franchise is the absence of screenwriter Tito Capri. While his work on films 2, 3, and 5 is good and worthwhile, his tongue and cheek atmosphere gave the series a somewhat silly vibe, though not necessarily bad, it did make others feel the franchise lost its edge.  This entry still sports some funny one-liners, and tongue and cheek humor, it still keeps a fairly serious, straightforward atmosphere that keeps the film within the areas of the traditional Italian Westerns that people have come to love and enjoy.

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A grey area that some might call a controversy or poor business/artistic practice was composer/conductor Bruno Nicolai’s (Ennio Morricone’s equally gifted protege) practically recycling his entire score for this film to another film he scored two years later in Il Mio Nome e Shanghai Joe (My Name is Shanghai Joe). Now with the main protagonist of that film being a Chinese immigrant, the melody of George Wang’s character’s theme being recycled in perfectly understandable, but to have re-used everything else seems a little lazy and excessive. Whether Nicolai gave his permission for this or was totally unaware is still up for debate, but because the Sartana film was the score’s original purpose, such ideas/theories shouldn’t spoil fans enjoyment of the film.

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Very different, especially from the first two films of the franchise, the 4th Sartana film still manages to pack in a lot of action and gunfights that will entertain Italian Western lovers new and old. A fine story and a twist that will leave everybody completely bewildered and off-kilter will be a welcomed difference to the usual fare people are used to within the genre. That the protagonist all along has knowledge he’s unwilling to divulge until absolutely necessary makes what the audience and other characters learn towards the finale feel totally out of left field and completely unexpected. The acting is very well done and the characters hold their own and weight very well. Mixing elements from the first film and the second film, there’s enough seriousness and playfulness to result in a fine homogeneous result that will appeal to most Italian Western enthusiasts.

(The fourth Sartana film showed no hints the franchise was losing steam, and that a combination of the original film and the first sequel led to an interesting different film that found its own strengths and stood as a worthy effort in its own right. Once again the mystery aspect plays a large part of the story, and the point of interest in this tale is not so much who’s pulling the strings to steal, but is what’s being sought after worth all the trouble. Arrow Video once again does a great job with the transfer and audio, making for an immensely enjoyable experience.)

(Look to my first posting of the Sartana franchise to see the link to purchase Arrow’s fine set)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images

for more information

IMDB/Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

Wikipedia/Have a Good Funeral My Friend, Sartana Will Pay

Spaghetti Western.net/Buon Funerale Amigos!…Paga Sartana

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

My 88 Films Wish List

by Tony Nash

Since I did one for Arrow Video, I figured it was only appropriate to do one for 88 Films too. Now this one will be exclusively to their Italian Collection line as I’ll admit that’s my favorite selection of titles.

(Note: some of the titles listed here 88 has already had requests for, some from this blogger too)

The Commissioner Betti Trilogy:

Roma Violenta (Violent Rome) – Director: Marino Girolami, Starring: Maurizio Merli, Richard Conte, Silvano Tranquili, Ray Lovelock, John Steiner, Daniela Giordano, Attilio Duse, Giuliano Esperati, Marcello Monti

Napoli Violenta (Violent Naples) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Barry Sullivan, Elio Zamuto, Carlo Gaddi, Silvano Tranquili, Attilio Duse, Maria Grazia Spina, Guido Alberti

Italia a Mano Armata (A Special Cop in Action/Italy: Armed and Dangerous) – Director: Marino Girolami, Starring: Maurizio Merli, John Saxon, Raymond Pellegrin, Mirella D’Angelo, Toni Ucci, Daniele Dublino, Fortunato Arena, Massimo Vanni, Marcello Monti, Sergio Fiorentini, Franco Borelli,

Roma a Mano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth/The Tough Ones) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Ivan Rassimov, Giampiero Albertini, Biagio Pelligra, Luciano Catenacci, Stefano Patrizi, Luciano Pigozzi, Allesandra Cardini, Gabriella Lepori

Napoli Spara (Naples: Armed and Ready/Weapons of Death) – Director: Mario Cianio, Starring: Leonard Mann, Henry Silva, Ida Galli, Jeff Blynn, Massimo Deda, Enrico Maisto, Tommaso Palladino, Tino Bianchi, Massimo Vanni

L’Assassino è Costretto ad Uccidere Ancora (The Killer Must Kill Again) – Director: Luigi Cozzi, Starring: George Hilton, Antoine Saint-John, Eduardo Fajardo, Femi Benussi, Cristina Galbo, Tere Velazquez, Alessio Orano

Quelli Che Contano (The Ones Who Count/Cry of a Prostitute) – Director: Andrea Bianchi, Starring: Henry Silva, Barbara Bouchet, Fausto Tozzi, Vittorio Sanipoli, Pietro Torrisi, Mario Landi, Dada Gallotti

Il Diavolo a Sette Facce (The Devil with Seven Faces) – Director: Osvaldo Civirani, Starring Carroll Baker, George Hilton, Stephen Boyd, Lucretia Love, Ivano Staccioli, Luciano Pigozzi, Daniele Vargas, Franco Ressel

L’Uomo della Strada fa Giustizia (The Manhunt) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Henry Silva, Luciana Paluzzi, Silvano Tranqiuli, Claudio Gora, Luciano Catenacci, Susanna Melandri, Claudio Nicastro

Il Cittadino si Ribella (Street Law/Citizen’s Rebellion) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starring: Franco Nero, Giancarlo Prete, Barbara Bach, Renzo Palmer, Romano Puppo, Renata Zamengo, Franco Borelli

Sette Scialli di Seta Gialli (The Crimes of the Black Cat) – Director: Sergio Pastore, Starring: Anthony Steffen, Sylva Koscina, Giovanni Lenzi, Renato de Carmine, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Umberto Raho, Annabella Incontrera, Shirley Corrigan

Il Grande Racket (The Big Racket) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starring: Fabio Testi, Vincent Gardenia, Renzo Palmer, Orso Maria Guerrini, Glauco Ornato, Marcella Michelangeli, Romano Puppo, Sal Borgese, Joshua Sinclair, Daniele Dublino

I know I left out a few titles here, but I do try to include titles that seem right for the company to restore.

Anyone who knows of other titles that 88 Films should consider restoring, feel free to list them in the comments, and please be fair and kind in them.

 

 

 

 

Filed under: Film: Special Topics

My Arrow Video Wish List

by Tony Nash

This list was another inspiration from Make Mine Criterion! aka spinenumbered who has lists for both The Criterion Collection and Arrow Video. Now this’ll mostly be Italian films, but I’m sure there’ll be a few people interested.

(This is in no particular order so forgive the all over the place feel to the list)

La Polizia Incrimina la Legge Assolve (High Crime) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starring: Franco Nero, James Whitmore. Delia Boccardo, Fernando Rey, Daniel Martin, Silvano Tranquilli

Le Colt Cantarono la Morte e Fu…..Tempo di Massacro (Massacre Time/The Brute and the Beast) – Director: Lucio Fulci, Starring: Franco Nero, George Hilton, Nino Castelnuovo, Giuseppe Addobbatti, Linda Sini, Aysanoa Runachagua

Confessione di un Commissario di Polizia al Procuratore della Repubblica (Confessions of a Police Captain) – Director: Damiano Damiani, Starring: Franco Nero, Martin Balsam, Marilu Tolo, Claudio Gora, Luciano Catenacci, Giancarlo Prete, Arturo Dominici

Il Pistolero dell’Ave Maria (The Gunmen of Ave Maria/Forgotten Pistolero): Director: Ferdinando Baldi, Starring: Leonard Mann, Luciana Paluzzi, Jose Suarez, Pietro Martellanza, Alberto de Mendoza, Pilar Velazquez, Piero Lulli Jose Manuel Martin

Il Coltello di Ghiacco (Knife of Ice) – Director: Umberto Lenzi, Starring: Carroll Baker, Alan Scott, Ida Galli, Eduardo Fajardo, George Rigaud, Silvia Monelli, Franco Fantasia

Quella Sporca Storia nel West (Johnny Hamlet/The Dirtiest Story in the West) – Director: Enzo G. Castellari, Starrring: Gilbert Roland, Horst Frank, Andrea Giodana, Francoise Prevost

Shinkansen Diabakuha (Bullet Train) – Director: Jun’ya Sato, Starring: Ken Takakura, Sonny Chiba, Kei Yamamoto, Eiji Go, Akira Oda, Raita Ryu, Masayo Utsunomiya

Sette Note in Nero (Seven Notes in Black/The Psychic) – Director: Lucio Fulci, Starring: Jennifer O’Neill, Gabriele Ferzetti, Marc Porel, Gianni Garko, Ida Galli, Fabrizio Jovine

Django Il Bastardo (Django the Bastard) – Director: Sergio Garrone, Starring: Anthony Steffen, Paolo Gozlino, Luciano Rossi, Teodoro Corra, Jean Louis, Carlo Gaddi, Victoriano Gazzarra, Thomas Rudy, Rada Rassimov

Los Mil Ojos del Asesino (Quel Ficcanaso dell’Ispettore Lawrence/The Killer with a Thousand Eyes) – Director Juan Bosch, Starring: Anthony Steffen, Antonio Pica, Maria Kosty, Raf Baldassarre, Julian Ugarte, Eduardo Fajardo, Romy

Now I’m sure there’s a few films of a few other genres I left out, but these were the first ones that I thought about that seem perfect for Arrow’s line-up.

If anyone else knows a good title that Arrow should consider restoring, please feel free to list below, and let’s keep the comments fair and reasonable please.

 

 

 

Filed under: Film: Special Topics

He Was Action & Suspense – Not Horror

A Look at Umberto Lenzi

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

Umberto Lenzi

When people think of Umberto Lenzi, the first things that come to mind are the cannibal Horror films Cannibal Ferox, Incubo Sulla Citta Contaminata (Incubation Over the Contaminated City, Nightmare City) and Il Paese del Sesso Selvaggio (The Man from Deep River, Sacrifice!) and others, but to say he’s only made these types of films is erroneous and ridiculous. Realistically Lenzi only made about 6 or 7 actual Horror films in total, but the enormous success of all of them among fans of Cult films led to the man getting typed as a latter day Mario Bava, which he clearly wasn’t trying to be. In truth, this was only a small part of Lenzi’s enigmatic body of work that was filled with an assortment of varied types of films that ranged from Comedies to Westerns to Action/Adventure, Crime, Mystery, and Thriller, making him on par with Bava as a ‘jack-of-all-trades” type of filmmaker. While with Westerns he was often only a script doctor or 2nd unit member, he was learning the trade and collecting as much experience and knowledge as he could.

Image result for Umberto Lenzi Should Lenzi be associated with any particular film genre or style, the more accurate films he should be admired for come from the Giallo and Poliziotteschi genres that were popular between the 1960’s and 1980’s. Giallos in the more traditional sense are Murder/Mystery/Thrillers done Italian style with more emphasis on mood and atmosphere and twisty stories. While they would become unfairly joined up with Horror films, those that know the difference will surely recognize the tightness of the story and cinematography that Lenzi would soon incorporate into his own style. It can never be proven as the genre has become blurred throughout the years, but Lenzi is associated with probably more Giallos than any of his contemporaries, with the exception of Massimo Dallamano. It was with the genre Lenzi was able to cut his teeth into the industry and allowed him to find what he excelled at as a filmmaker. With so many films of that type being made, it would be difficult to say Lenzi was the King of the Giallo, though it is clear a good chunk of the genre was tied to him and his success within it. Paranoia, Cosi Dolce……Cosi Perversa (So Sweet, So Perverse), Orgasmo, and Sette Orchidee Macchiate di Rosso (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids) are some his better known titles that fans should enjoy.

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In the mid 1970’s, as The French Connection inspired a series of knock-offs and imitations, the Italians were going into the Poliziotteschi genre full swing. While they were indeed imitations, the Italian Cop and Gangster films were in fact often original and creative in many aspects including story and acting. Lenzi would go the complete opposite direction and instead of having tight confined spaces, he had his actors in wide open spaces, fighting on streets and rooftops, and spectacular car chases. Lenzi’s earlier success in the Giallos made him a good choice for the Cop Thrillers as they share similar traits, though the Cop films leaned more toward actions than suspense and the who-dun-it aspect. With the crime rate in Italy soaring and the anarchists bombing multiple buildings at the time, the films were relevant to the times, but all the same had an energetic and entertaining value that didn’t feel like a social commentary or the filmmaker’s imputing their own belief’s into them, though Lenzi and many of his contemporaries were admitted social reforming leftists (not communists/socialists as many believe), and ironically were labeled as fascists because of the pro authoritarian feel of them. Lenzi’s film work with Tomas Milian, particularly Milano Odia: La Polizia non puo Sparare (Almost Human), Roma a Mano Armata (Rome Armed to the Teeth, the Tough Ones), and Il Cinico, l’Infame, il Violento(The Cynic, the Rat, and the Fist) are the most notable.

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Even though his name is often unwisely associated with just Horror, Lenzi was and still is a master craftsman in the world of film who had the rare privilege of having an extensive body of work in many of the popular genres of the time and doing them well. Even after the Italian film industry went into a permanent dry spell in the 1980’s in the realm of genre cinema, Lenzi continued to work and when the industry stopped catering to the films he made in the 1990’s, he went into retirement, occasionally offering interviews to the new generations of directors. when DVD and Blu Ray became the new source of entertainment, the era of work he did came back into vogue to a new audience  and brought the man back from the vaults of obscurity. Lenzi made frequent appearances for interviews and various documentaries for the various boutique companies that release his work. Even up until his death last year, he was recounting his experiences and giving inspiration to new directors.

(Umberto Lenzi is one of the unsung great directors of Italian Genre Cinema, and is up their with Mario Bava, Sergio Martino, Enzo G. Castellari, and Fernando Di Leo as one of the legends of the industry. Many of his films are available on Blu Ray and DVD from Shameless Films, Raro Video, 88 Films, Code Red, and XR Video. I highly reccommend seeking out his non Horror entries as those are some of his best works.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners.

For more information

IMDB/Umberto Lenzi

Wikipedia/Umberto Lenzi

Mondo-Esoterica/Umberto Lenzi

Filed under: Film: Director Spotlight

Astrology as a Tool Of Revenge:

A Gringo’s Requiem

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Some spoilers may be present)

(This review is of the Italian Language version of the film)

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Requiem Para el Gringo (Requiem Per un Gringo/Requiem for a Gringo/Duel in the Eclipse) (1968) PG-13 ****1/2

Lang Jeffries: Ross Logan

Fernando Sancho: Porfirio Carranza

Femi Benussi: Alma (as Femy Benussi)

Carlo Gaddi: Ted Corby

Rubén Rojo: Tom Leader

Aldo Sambrell: Charley Fair (as Aldo Sanbrell in Spanish version)

Marisa Parades: Nina

Carlo Simoni: Dan Logan

Giuliana Garavaglia: Lupe (as Giuly Garr)

Angel Alvarez: Samuel, the Saloon Owner

Sancho Garcia: The Beaten Peon

Written by: Arrigo Colombo, Enrico Colombo, Giuliana Garavaglia, & Maria del Carmen Martinez Roman

Directed by: José Luis Merino (as J. Merino in Italian version)

Synopsis: Mexican bandit Porfirio Carranza and his gang, including the black clad and tough Ted Corby and the sophisticated Easterner Tom Leader, commandeer a hacienda while waiting to escape to California with a cache of jewels and money. These plans get foiled when returning gunman Ross Logan learns Carranza’s lackeys have killed his brother Dan, who was paying his respects to the hacienda’s patriarch. Logan uses his fascination with astrology and the stars to put the gang at unease and raise the tension already among them while awaiting the opportunity to escape.

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1968 proved to be a pivotal year for Italian Westerns with such films as C’era una Volta del West (Once Upon a Time in the West), Il Grande Silenzio (The Great Silence), Se Incontri Sartana, Prega per la Tua Morte (If You Meet Sartana….Pray for Your Death), and Corri Uomo Corri (Run Man Run). Two Westerns that came out this same year that fell under the radar until recently were Une Corde, Un Colt…(Cimitero senza Croci, The Rope and the Colt, Cemetery Without Crosses) and Requiem para el Gringo (Requiem per un Un Gringo, Requiem for a Gringo, Duel in the Eclipse). Like with the former Une Corde, Requiem went against the traditional standards of the Italian West, telling their stories in an entirely new fashion. While the former went into a more minimalist area with little dialogue and heavy use of visuals, the latter focuses on a dream-like, almost supernatural feel to tell the story. This concept makes the viewer wonder if the protagonist has aid from a force that’s not of the earth. While not as supernatural and not at all horror-esque in themes as Se Sei Vivo Spara (Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot!) from the previous year, the film is still very different in that the Anti-Hero is able to put the gang in a complete state of disarray and panic, not knowing at all how to intimidate or fight the force working against them. That the hero is educated and intelligent is both different and familiar to fans of the genre as most Italian Western gunmen tended to be street smart, acting entirely on wits, while the gunman of Requiem appears to have had the benefit of an education, thus giving him an extra edge against the more brawn outlaws.

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Lang Jeffries, a Canadian-Naturalized American character actor, who made his career primarily in Europe, is an intriguing enigma as Ross Logan. Like the classic Anti-Hero character, Jeffries has Logan as more of a silent type who merely has to gaze to let his enemies know not to fool with him. Unlike the classic Anti-Hero, Jeffries  has Logan dress and behave very differently, wearing a leopard skin poncho instead of the classic cloth material, and faking out his enemies into making the first move. By having the character be educated and with an interest in astronomy, Jeffries is able to add a sense of the mystical to the role, having Logan seem more like a ghost or spirit roaming the landscape, avenging the people whom Carranza and his bunch are terrorizing. The animal skin poncho is a reference to old Mayan (whom some Mexicans are descended from) legends of the avenging gods, adding to this theory. While it’s clear Logan is playing on the superstitions and over-confidence of the gang members and Carranza himself, it’s a curious idea worth giving credence to.

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Fernando Sancho, one of the supreme heavyweights of the Italian Western genre is quite different and interesting in the role of Carranza. While maintaining a burly and intimidating exterior, Sancho portrays Carranza as someone who may be all bark and no bite. His shaking hands when handling a six-shooter and always keeping a shotgun close by incognito give strong implications he’s either never been a tough man or his age and weight are finally catching up to him. In spite of these slight hints, he maintains an authority and respect his men dare not try to take away from him, though some secretly want to usurp him. Sancho slowly has Carranza go from a man completely in control of what he’s doing to a man whose so called allies are in fact plotting against him and a loss of an authority he never really had or is losing because of hesitance in certain acts. While better known for his banditos and with honor and a type of sadistic enthusiasm, Sancho is a delight as a character who’s teetering between being respected by his comrades and being overthrown and killed for outliving his usefulness.

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In a rare and welcomed sizable supporting role is Aldo Sambrell, another Italian Western regular, in the role of Charley Fair. Mostly known for secondary and minor roles in other films of the genre, Sambrell gets to sink his teeth into a part with goods lines and interesting character traits. A Mexican Indian, Sambrell as Charley is a man bordering two worlds: one rational, the other steeped in Pagan superstition. By having him be benefited by some form of education and experiences his adherence to the Old Ways in how spirits work make him a very unusual person as he should be smarter than the looks. Sambrell still has Charley acting very much the brute in how he handles things for boss man Carranza, and even uses a sinister laugh when he gets to do something he’s an expert at taking care of.

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Carlo Gaddi and Rubén Rojo, two lesser known, but never-the-less good, character actors from Italy and Spain respectively do very well in the roles of Corby and Leader. Gaddi as Corby is a man of hot temperament and is easily prone to violent action. The chink in his armor is an overactive libido that has him pursuing an uninterested conquest whose consistent refusals lead him to anger and poor decisions. While clearly intelligent, Corby’s anger and sexual frustration may very well lead to his demised quicker than even he thinks. Rojo as Leader is a fancy Dude who seems like he should be in an Eastern City rather than the US-Mexican border. His quest for power, a penchant for cheating with guns, and his lust for his boss’s woman make for a nice target of weakness. His intelligence is higher than both Carranza and Corby’s, but his lack of strength and force leaves him only a right hand man who helps plans the group’s next move, which clearly infuriates him. Rojo’s usage of dirty tactics for Leader makes him equally shifty as well, leaving things unclear if he should turn on anyone else.

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What helps gives this film an even higher boost is that two women helped out with the screenplay. While there’s nothing feminine at all about the film, the credits clearly indicate that two females, along with two men were responsible for the story. That the protagonist is both book smart and street smart could’ve been an invention by either of the women, nothing is really concrete in who wrote what. The four main villains’ weaknesses and vices clearly has a feminine touch as most Italian Western baddies tended to be hulking or psychotic brutes who’s downfall was the result of usually underestimating their opponents, going too far in their deeds, or overestimating their own abilities. Only Sergio Leone had previously given a kind of psychological flaw to his villain in Per Qualche Dollaro in Piu (For a Few Dollars More), so to have bad guys with clearly recognizable weaknesses was not a regular stable of the genre. This actually makes the film work better as it shows the baddies can be beat, it’s only a matter of what to exploit about them.

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Bordering on the mystical, but still in the real world, Requiem is a fairly underrated and overlooked Italian Western. Sometimes slow, but still very entertaining and intriguing, the film exudes an atmosphere that makes it very different from the others in the genre. It may take its time, but what the audience eventually learns makes that meticulous planning out of events worth while. A fine cast, good acting, and an interesting and unique story all make the film something to be with the pantheon of other fine Italian Westerns.

(While it’s definitely a slow burner in some places, this is still a worthwhile Italian Western to check out with a good story and cast. The German Colosseo/Alive Films Blu Ray offers a fine transfer and good sounding audio [Italian and German only] and Wild East released the film only just recently as their second Blu Ray offering.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/Requiem for a Gringo

Wikipedia/Requiem for a Gringo

Spaghetti Western.net/Requiem para el Gringo

https://www.amazon.de/exec/obidos/ASIN/B019NU7DJ8/italowestern-21

https://www.amazon.com/Requiem-Gringo-Blu-ray-Lang-Jeffries/dp/B07JK2FL2G/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1542847083&sr=1-1&keywords=requiem+for+a+gringo

 

 

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Stuff I’m Looking Forward To Pt. 2

By Tony Nash

Here’s a few more recently released or announced titles I’m excited to add to my collection. Again this will be a combination of US, UK, and German releases.

Support Your Local Sheriff! Blu Ray (4Digital Media): James Garner, Joan Hackett, Walter Brennan, Jack Elam, Bruce Dern, Harry Morgan, Henry Jones, Walter Burke, Gene Evans, Kathleen Freeman

Project A & Project A 2 Blu Ray Set (Eureka! Classics): Jackie Chan, Sammo Kam-Bo Hung, Maggie Cheung, Rosamund Kwan, Biao Yuen, Carina Lau, Dick Wei, Mars, David Lam, Bill Tung, Ray Lui, Yao Lin Chen, Isabella Wong, Tai-Bo, Hoi Sang Lee, Hoi-San Kwan, Wai Wong

Support Your Local Gunfighter! Blu Ray (Koch Media): James Garner, Suzanne Pleschette, Jack Elam, Harry Morgan, Joan Blondell, Marie Windsor, Chuck Conners, Henry Jones, John Denner, Walter Burke, Gene Evans, Kathleen Freeman

La Verite Blu Ray (Criterion Collection): Brigitte Bardot, Paul Meurisse, Charles Vanel, Sami Frey

Rome Armed to the Teeth (The Tough Ones/Roma A Mano Armata) Blu Ray (Grindhouse Releasing): Maurizio Merli, Tomas Milian, Arthur Kennedy, Ivan Rassimov

Street Law (Il Cittadino si Ribella) Blu Ray (Code Red*/FilmArt): Franco Nero Giancarlo Prete, Barbara Bach, Renzo Palmer, Romano Puppo

Confessions of a Police Captain (Confessione de un Commissario di Polizia al Procuratore della Repubblica) Blu Ray (FilmArt): Franco Nero, Martin Balsam, Marilu Tolo, Claudio Gora, Luciano Catenacci, Giancarlo Prete, Arturo Dominici

City Hunter Blu Ray (Eureka! Classics): Jackie Chan, Joey Wang, Richard Norton, Kumiko Goto, Chingmy Yao, Leon Lai, Michael Wong, Gary Daniels

Battle Creek Brawl Blu Ray (88 Films): Jackie Chan, Jose Ferrer, Kristine DeBell, Mako, H.B. Haggerty, Rosalind Chao, Chao Li Chi, Ron Max, David Sheiner, Lenny Montana

Hammer Volume 1: Fear Warning! Blu Ray (Powerhouse/Indicator): Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Terence Morgan, Kerwin Matthews, George Pastell, Fred Clark,

Hammer Volume 2: Criminal Intent Blu Ray (Powerhouse/Indicator): Peter Cushing, Peter van Eyck, Andre Morell, Patrick Allen

Hammer Volume 3: Blood and Terror Blu Ray (Powerhouse/Indicator): Christopher Lee

*(I’m hoping Code Red will be including the Italian Language audio track with translated English subtitles. As everyone who follows me knows, I love watching foreign films with their original audio with translated subtitles if at all possible)

Filed under: Annoucements, Film: Special Topics

The Gunman Uses Sound:

Minnesota Clay

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Some spoilers may be present)

(This review is of the Italian language version)

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Minnesota Clay **** PG-13 (1964)

Cameron Mitchell: Minnesota Clay

Georges Riviére: Sheriff Fox (as Georges Riviere)

Ethel Rojo: Estella, Ortiz’s Woman

Fernando Sancho: Gen. Domingo Ortiz

Antonio Casas: Uncle Jonathan Mulligan

Julio Pena: Lt. Dr. Stevens

Diana Martin: Nancy Mulligan

Antonio Rosso: Andy Mudo (as Anthony Ross)

Gino Pernice: Scratchy, Fox’s Gunman

Ferdinando Poggi: Tubbs: (as Nando Poggi)

Written by: Adriano Bolzoni, Sergio Corbucci, & José Gutiérrez Maesso (dialogue for Spanish actors)

Directed by: Sergio Corbucci

Synopsis: After breaking out of a Union Prison Camp, gunman and former soldier Minnesota Clay travels to the Mexican border to find Fox, his former friend who falsely accused him of the crime that sent him to jail. Complications arise when he discovers Fox is now the corrupt Sheriff of the border town and is feuding with Mexican bandit Ortiz for control. An unknown wild card in seductive senorita Estella begins playing Fox and Ortiz against each other, further endangering Clay to both men. Clay also must come to terms with losing the opportunity of a relationship with his daughter.

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Before he created Django, Hud, and Silence, Sergio Corbucci gave Italian audiences Minnesota Clay. The early to mid 1960’s had Italian directors using typical American character types for their Westerns, but Leone and Corbucci would change that with their respectful inaugural efforts in the genre. Clay is for the most part a product of the Italian fascination with the American West, but many story/action elements and character traits are very much Italian in it’s early stages. The standard story of betrayal and revenge in the post Civil War era gets a European makeover that breathes new life into the Western film. Another interesting feature is a more positive view of the relationships between men and women in Italian Westerns. Normally women were objectified and abused in these films, but here women are shown as being treated fairly and humanely, men only responding harshly when the women betray them. While not completely Italian or American inspired, the film can be looked at as the border between imitation and originality, offering a unique homogenous mixture that shows the inspiration the American films created in Italians and the themes, motifs, and styles the Italians would come up with and revolutionize a genre that until then was bordering on life and death with audiences. The title character’s dealing with poor eyesight hints at a nod to the recent hit Japanese franchise Zatoichi starring Shintaro Katsu, though with the character not being totally blind it’s a vague nod at best.

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Cameron Mitchell, an American actor who went into character roles after his romantic days faded does well in the title role. Having made the transition to Westerns already in shows like Gunsmoke and Bonanza, Mitchell’s haggard middle age features made him an excellent choice for the aged gunfighter coming to terms with his life. Not an Anti-Hero in the classic tradition of Franco Nero, Giuliano Gemma, Gianni Garko, and Anthony Steffen, Mitchell plays Clay as a man who prefers to bluff his way out of situations rather than use his guns, only resorting to violence when absolutely necessary. Dubber Emilio Cigoli’s booming voice aids Mitchell in the character’s assertive he means what he says attitude. Mitchell’s use of his eyes for the cold hard stare isn’t as effective as say Clint Eastwood or Lee Van Cleef, but it gets the job done in letting his enemies know he’s come to settle old accounts. Mitchell also adds a touch of the humane to the character, showing he still has friends who knew of his innocence in spite of the bad luck and misfortune that seems to follow him. Clay is also Corbucci’s first character to succeed in spite of a handicap, in this case his slowly fading eyesight, though he’s not going blind.

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Georges Riviére, a lesser known but still well liked French character actor who made his name in Argentina, is both charming and slimy as Sheriff Fox. Riviére plays Fox as a man who was once good, but his envy of Clay and the woman who loved him led him to lie about Clay’s involvement in a crime and land the man in jail. Fox’s own fortunes prospered to the point he became Sheriff of a little town near Mexico. Riviére adds a sense that Fox is totally aware Clay has come to kill him for framing him and then taking and killing the woman he loved, but doesn’t look too worried about that. The addition of a double-dealing personality by Riviére in that Fox is supposed to protect the citizens of the town, but instead has his henchman, some who even pose as his deputies, rob many of the stagecoaches coming into the territory, laying the blame on the local Mexican bandits hiding out in the desert. Fernando Sancho, the noted Spanish actor who has the record for the most Italian Westerns, is in one of his first prominent role as Gen. Ortiz. A Mexican bandit merely looking to survive after falling into a vagabond existence after a recent conflict, Sancho plays Ortiz as someone who doesn’t take from those he knew would go without if he stole from them. Initially grateful of Clay for saving the life of his returning girlfriend from Fox’s goons, he quickly falls into a trap when Fox and the woman he loves plot against him. While not seen on screen much, Sancho still plays a interesting character whose not totally good, but not totally bad either.

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While an early effort of the genre, Minnesota Clay was, along with Per u Pugni di Dollari, one of the first films of the genre that utilized the elements they would later become loved and cherished for in later years. Tamer in some aspects, but revolutionary in others, the film is pretty much a mixed bag that manages to work on many levels with success. Good acting, fairly well shaped story, and fine use of locales and imagery rise the film above what might have been considered typical genre remaking. Having a hero with a medical condition having to rely on other senses in order to protect those he cares about offers an interesting deviation and unique interpretation to the genre. No Anti-Heroes here, but the protagonist is certainly wary of other people and has in a sense lost his faith in others, but situations he couldn’t predict allow him a chance for redemption.

(While a little tamer than your average Italian Western, Minnesota Clay still has some of the early hallmarks that made the genre what it is. I do recommend this film to fans who’s like to see the genre in its early stages and see the progression to what everyone knows and loves about them. The only DVD in print is an Italian language only one and the sole Blu Ray that was from France with the original Italian and French audio is now out of print [I was lucky enough to get a copy when it was still available]. A copy is worth tracking down, and many are fairly and decently priced.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more iformation

IMDB/Minnesota Clay

Wikipedia/Minnesota Clay

Spaghetti-Western.net/Minnesota Clay

https://www.amazon.it/Minnesota-Clay-Mitchell-Cameron/dp/B003UVG5QO/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1542223373&sr=1-1&keywords=minnesota+clay

https://www.amazon.com/Minnesota-Clay-Cameron-Mitchell/dp/B00IYRLUQE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1542223490&sr=1-1&keywords=minnesota+clay&dpID=61Bhik72%252BIL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview, Film: Special Topics

Archenemies: How They Made Stories Better

by Tony Nash

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers may be present)

What often made great literature, great films, and great TV shows was when two characters became adversaries for each other. Whether their first encounter on screen or page led to a rivalry, or the two had been at odds in backstory, their shared intellect and willingness to do what it takes to foil the other made for great stories and conflict. Sometimes the rivalry was personal, chance encounters leading to ongoing vendettas that never seem to stop, or the rivalry was professional, conflict only rising because the two worked for different businesses or governments. Once in a while archenemies would mix both the personal and the professional, the chase and game becoming a battle of wills and wiles to see who would come out on top.

Now there are many popular examples, but here some of the forgotten and lesser known, but equally good arch rivals will be discussed.

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Jim West and Dr. Miguelito Loveless (The Wild, Wild West [1965-69]) (portrayed by Robert Conrad and Michael Dunn):

Possibly one of the most unique and original rivalries to ever spawn from 60’s Television was the constant battle of the minds between US Secret Service Agent Jim West and the maniacal genius Dr. Miguelito Loveless. When West foiled Loveless’ plot to detonate bombs throughout Washington DC when the government refused to return land in California promised his father by the King of Spain, the two forever became entangled in a continuing cat and mouse game to see who was smarter. What started out as Loveless merely wanting to get back what he believed was his spiraled into outlandish and ingenious methods of taking over the world and Jim West ever present to preserve freedom and democracy. As the series progressed the two developed a love-hate kind of relationship, a form of respect slowly building up between them. West would often comment after their encounters how he truly believed Loveless wanted to correct the mistakes of others, but would always be doomed to failure when he stopped caring about innocent people. Loveless in turn admitted he admired West’s spirit and determination in his belief in the governing process of the US and how the people strive for better. The majority of their encounters was Loveless’ harebrained schemes and West’s creative ways with Artemus Gordon in how to stop him, always making for fun and exciting scenes. After a while, Loveless set his sights purely on doing away with West, plans of world domination taking a backseat, but never-the-less exciting material.

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Steve McGarrett and Wo Fat (Hawaii Five-O [1968- 80]) (portrayed by Jack Lord and Khigh Dhiegh):

In the first TV series ever shot entirely on location in the beautiful state of Hawaii was the everlasting feud between police detective Steve McGarrett and international criminal/Communist agent Wo Fat. The two had encountered each other prior to the start of the series, and there was plenty of bad blood between them already. McGarrett would often have to foil Wo Fat’s plans in Cold War era espionage and the villain’s own personal schemes. Unlike other archenemies who eventually come to a begrudging respect, this wasn’t the case with McGarrett and Wo Fat. Fat’s willingness to kill anyone, including those working with him, to complete a mission made him a fugitive everywhere, including his own country, thus making him someone very dangerous and untrustworthy. The cat and mouse game gets more intense with each encounter as personal pride and ambition becoming the reasons these two encounter each other.

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Barnabas Collins and Angelique Bouchard (aka Miranda Duval) (Dark Shadows [1966-71]) (Portrayed by Jonathan Frid and Lara Parker):

Of the rare occasions men and women were enemies, Barnabas and Angelique were probably the best example. One time lovers whom Barnabas admitting he couldn’t string Angelique along and he loved another woman sent her over the edge into acts against the innocent just to harm him. In spite of the occasional team up of the two to save the Collins family, Angelique’s motives were really because she wanted the honor of destroying Barnabas herself and not wanting anyone else to rob her of that. Like most adversaries, the intelligence and with they both displayed made their encounters very interesting and made many an audience wonder what the outcome would be. Surprisingly, even with the extreme hatred between them, the two did develop a type of admiration for each other, their perseverance and determination inspired the other to think a little differently at times, though past wounds still ran very deep for both of them.

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Colonel Robert E. Hogan and Marya the White Russian (Hogan’s Heroes [1965-71]) (portrayed by Bob Crane and Nita Talbot):

As incredible as it sounds, these two were very much enemies, even though their governments had an alliance agreement. Marya was constantly entrapping Hogan in her own schemes, always putting his own activities for the Underground at risk. While she was indeed acting as a double agent for the Allies, her double-dealing Black Widow like personality had audiences forever wondering if she wouldn’t have sold out the Heroes to save herself or complete missions. The fact that her ideas always worked out in spite of her own role in the schemes was all that kept Hogan from reporting her very questionable methods to Army Intelligence. Marya’s infatuation with Hogan in the romantic sense brought ever more questions to her MO as why would she constantly try to help get him killed if she respected him. Surprisingly, this constant state of not being able to trust each other that eventually made them trust each other.

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Dr. Mabuse and Kommissar von Wenk (Dr. Mabuse: Der Spieler [Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler] [[published 1922]) (portrayed by Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Bernhard Goetzke):

These two men weren’t just enemies in law and order, but enemies of social function as well. Mabuse represented the chaos and anarchy that wanted to erupt from post WWI Germany and von Wenk represented the organized order that wanted to prevail amidst the uncertainty and chaos of the times. That Mabuse wanted to exploit the people’s shattered sense of self in the wake of everything they knew practically being destroyed showed a predatory personality that didn’t care about how he obtained anything just so long as he got it. Some might say he himself is a victim of the post-war era in that he must resort to criminal activity to survive, but because he seeks to corrupt the lower class to steal from the high class changes this. Kommissar von Wenk might be a part of the upper echelon that does little to help those who have less, but he does believe in the concept of real justice, and while his superiors and friends might use the crime spree to deter the lower class from making stands, he acts to prevent true anarchy that would victimize everyone.

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Rudolf Rassendyll and Rupert of Hentzau (The Prisoner of Zenda [published 1894 – filmed 1937 and 1952] & Rupert of Hentzau [published 1895/1898]) (portrayed by Ronald Coleman & Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Stewart Granger & James Mason respectively):

One of the classic Adventure Romances of all time produced one of the best arch-rivalries of all time. Rassendyll is the common everyman with class who soon finds himself in the middle of a plot to take over a country. Rupert of Hentzau is a smiling slime ball looking to both profit and gain control from the coupe of his king’s greedy and jealous half-brother. While having a commonality in breeding and manners, their difference in what is the right thing to do is what compounds in making them enemies. The parry of words and swords between the two makes for very nice entertainment and suspense that keeps the viewer interested in what would eventually happen between the two. When Hentzau escaped and returned to try to take over again, the feud between himself and Rassendyll became a little more intense, though the wit and parry remained the same.

Whether enemies by circumstance or enemies by choice, these duos and the multitude of others out there made the films, TV, and books they appeared in seem all the more better.

all images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

for more information

IMDB/Wikipedia – The Wild Wild West TV Series

IMDB/Wikipedia – Hawaii Five-O 1968 Series

IMDB/Wikipedia – Dark Shadows 1966 Series

IMDB/Wikipedia – Hogan’s Heroes TV Series

IMDB/Wikipedia – Dr. Mabuse The Gambler

IMDB/Wikipedia – The Prisoner of Zenda 1937 and 1952

https://www.amazon.com/Wild-West-Complete/dp/B00TZF2KEU/ref=sr_1_3?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1541967137&sr=1-3&keywords=wild+wild+west+dvd+complete+series&dpID=51e8IphzRHL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B06WD4D8FC/ref=tmm_dvd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1541967431&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B017Q8QNJK/ref=tmm_dvd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1541967494&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.de/Ein-K%C3%A4fig-voller-Helden-Amazon/dp/B07B4Q557Q/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1541967619&sr=1-2&keywords=Hogan%27s+Heroes

https://www.amazon.com/Dr-Mabuse-Gambler-Rudolf-Klein-Rogge/dp/B01DGN4W9W/ref=sr_1_4?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1541967669&sr=1-4&keywords=Dr.+Mabuse&dpID=51AT2PZ%252BrmL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B00EYZQMN6/ref=tmm_blu_new_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1541967723&sr=1-1

 

 

 

Filed under: Film: Special Topics, TV: Special Topics

A Sex Comedy with Good Story and Acting

Nello Rossati’s The Nurse

by Tony Nash

(all opinions are of the author alone)

(Spoilers will follow)

(Note: Due to the nudity in the film, the same stills might be used to avoid problems)

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L’Infermiera (The Sensuous Nurse/The Nurse) (1975) NC-17 ***

Ursula Andress: Anna

Duilio Del Prete: Benito Varotto

Mario Pisu: Leonida Bottacin

Luciana Paluzzi: Jole Scarpa

Daniele Vargas: Gustavo Scarpa

Jack Palance: Mr. Kitch

Stefano Sabelli: Adone Scarpa

Carla Romanelli: Tosca Floria Zanin

Lino Toffolo: Giovanni Garbin

Marina Confalone: Italia Varotto

Attilio Duse: Doctor Pavan

Written by: Claudia Florio, Roberto Gianviti, Nello Rossati, & Paolo Vidali

Directed by: Nello Rossati

Synopsis: Greedy American businessman Mr. Kitch is interested in a piece of land in Italy’s wine country, but the old school Leonida Bottacin won’t sell. When the old man has a heart attack while engaging in a less than indiscreet liaison with a servant, his scheming nephews and their wives plot to put him in the grave permanently. Bottacin’s fondness for young voluptuous women inspires his one nephew to hire Anna, a Swiss German nurse with a Venus De Milo figure, in the hopes she’ll induce the “dirty old man” to have a second fatal heart attack. The plan gets monkey-wrenched when Anna falls for Bottacin.

While most “Sex Comedies” tend to rely purely on raunchiness and dirty jokes to be popular, L’Infermiera breaks the mold by having a good story and a fine, if zany, cast of characters. While still containing a good amount of crude humor, crude jokes, and heavily suggestive dialogues and situations, the film manages to not go over the top with them and comes off as merely the overtly eccentric ways of a family and their servants who live in a kind of isolation in the wine country. Inspired by easily foiled murder plot comedies, audiences are in a constant state of hysterics and disbelief as the relatives of an old man with a highly active libido tries to kill him so they can sell the land of the family winery to an unscrupulous real estate businessman from the States for a quick profit. Adding to the madcap shenanigans is that while the old timer is clearly suffering, his overtly active mojo isn’t letting his heart give out that easily and he’s somehow clinging to life. To make things feel much more like a Looney Toons cartoon or something out of a comic strip, the family members themselves and their servants are shown engaging in various acts of vice and marital infidelity, all with everyone knowing about it and not caring. Thinking the old man’s dream woman would be the key to his demise, a nurse who had a dalliance with the smart nephew of the family is brought in with the promise of a percentage of the money from the sale and of the old man’s savings, but in a move that gives integrity and heart to the film is the nurse’s slow and gradual feelings of romance towards her target, and with the aid of the grandson, she decides to foil the plot.

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Ursula Andress, the first ever Bond girl, by the mid-seventies was teetering between being a sex symbol and a matron style character actress, proved she still had what it takes to turn heads in the role of Anna. Spending some time on screen wearing little to nothing at all, Anna is able to turn the heads of all the men of the house, and incites extreme jealousy from the mousy wives who wish their infirmed uncle in law would just kick the bucket already. What Andress brings to Anna’s character to make her different, is that she doesn’t like men trying to cop a feel all the time, in spite of her being very beautiful and alluring. While she doesn’t mind having meaningless dalliances, her prospects for a life long partner are that he would love her for her mind and face, and not just her body. Old Man Bottican’s willingness to respect her boundaries even though his desires are screaming at him to do something is what turns Anna from a willing conspirator into a crusader to save the man who she’s come to love. Not above using her body and wiles to aid her in getting the evidence to help Bottican throw his ingrate relations out what ensues is a chaotic comic insanity in figuring out what is really going on. Andress proves she’s as lovely as always and gets some really good lines and an interesting character who isn’t just a pretty face.

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Mario Pisu, a fairly reputable Italian character actor, is a scream as the gentlemanly and lecherous Leonida Bottacin. Normally with characters like Bottacin who have escapades with every pretty face, viewers would be inclined to not like them because they have no decency or morals, but with Bottacin himself, it’s different. Pisu plays Bottacin as a likeable fellow who would never try anything on a woman unless she asked him to. Bottacin is a widower whose loneliness at having survived his loving though somewhat boorish wife has led him to seek out much female companionship. When nature decides Bottacin is having a little too much fun, he’s given a coronary that leaves him bedridden and delirious. Pisu then takes audiences on a wild ride as he has Bottacin mumble and say only a few words, all of which would only be acceptable in the boudoir and sailor friendly bars. Pisu’s acting has the audience feeling sympathetic towards Bottacin as he’s only trying to find happiness until he sees his wife again in Heaven and is clearly not the “love ‘em and leave ‘em” playboy type, showing his lovers a type of respect they should be treated with. Since he has limits and clearly wouldn’t do things that go against his upbringing, audiences can like Bottacin and not feel like they’re condoning his bizarre way of filling the void of his late wife.

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The most unique and unusual bits of casting are of iconic American character actor Jack Palance and Italian character actress Luciana Paluzzi, another famous Bond girl. Palance has a small, but memorable appearance as Mr. Kitch, an American tycoon looking to extend his holdings into the Italian countryside. The antics of Bottacin’s nephew Benito amuse, but also baffle Kitch as he’s shown to not have a total understanding of how Italians transact business. Like any businessman, American or otherwise, Kitch is played up as only caring if the deal for the land can go through, and is totally uninterested in the difficulties in getting Uncle Bottacin to kick the bucket, though he does tell Benito to use any means, even if they’re criminal. Paluzzi plays Jole, a woman married to one of Bottacin’s nephews, and having an affair with the other. Paluzzi totally plays against type from a calm and cool exotic beauty, to a neurotic and ever-constantly shouting henpecked wife. That she does the part so well makes her even more of an underrated actress, as she makes the character fit. A scene where she starts throwing objects and her clothes at her lover in a frustrated tizzy shows what Paluzzi could do with any part. That she does that scene partially nude as well shows her willingness to take chances with scenes that could make or break a performer, and still looks very beautiful in the process.

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An interesting point to mention is that one of the writers of the script for the film was a woman. That a female was responsible for some of the humor and plot of the film makes things a little less dirty and a little more fun to watch. While it’s hard to tell who wrote what in terms of story, humor, and characters, that a woman was involved in the behind the scenes aspect shows the film could’ve been a lot dirtier than what it already was.

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Full of innuendo in dialogue and situations, and nearly non-stop risqué humor, the plot and characters of the film helps it to rise above the status of a “dirty” comedy, making it a piece all its own. While there are many moments in the film that would call for uncomfortable laughter, especially in mixed company, when looked at as merely a glimpse at a different culture’s interpretation of what is or isn’t smut makes the viewing experience a little more interesting and intriguing. Definitely for select tastes and those curious for something totally different from anything they’ve seen, L’Infermiera is a  piece of filmmaking that defies categorization what people should call it, but is for certain different than the films that came before it and has not been repeated since.

(While I do recommend giving the film a chance as its story and acting are much better then the trailers and posters make it out to be, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and might take the right temperament or mood to view it with an open mind. The NC-17 rating is my own and while the IMDB does list it as rated R, the amount of nudity and sexually explicit dialogue and situations should definitely only be seen by those 18 or older. I, and many others don’t see it as soft-porn, but I could see why others would. The Shameless Entertainment DVD is quite good in transfer and audio, including both the original Italian language soundtrack and the English dub, which includes Ursula Andress and Jack Palance’s own voices.)

All images courtesy of Google.com/Google Images and their respective owners

For more information

IMDB/The Sensuous Nurse

Wikipedia/The Sensuous Nurse

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/B00EOBB6X6/ref=tmm_dvd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=1541795935&sr=1-1

If you would like to support Shameless directly:

http://www.shameless-films.com/films/the-nurse/

 

Filed under: Film: Analysis/Overview