Movie Fan Man: Cinema Connoisseur

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

Blog News #6/Special Announcement #5

Hello to my followers, those I’m following, and all curious visitors,

I’ll be taking a vacation break from now until the first full week of August. Normally I’d have taken this during July 4th, but this Pandemic has all the days gelling together and me confused. Don’t worry I’ll still be watching movies and talking about them here, I just want to recharge myself and go at a leisure pace for right now.

I have some exciting news for everybody interested in my writing, I’ll be appearing in my first official publication this September in the 2nd issue of the Spaghetti Western Digest. The Digest was started by SW fan Mike Haus and I was able to contact him through the SW Forum and he said he’s always looking for contributors and so I’ll be a regular contributor for as long as I can. Since I’ll be doing the Digest, The Western Wednesdays series will be on indefinite hiatus for the time being, of which I’m a little sad to do, but this frees me up to focus on other stuff to write about.

Look out for a belated Jaws spin-off write up when I come back for the 40th Anniversary of the Shark film blockbuster. The two episode special will be on Fabrizio De Angelis’ Killer Crocodile double feature, which were the last of, but non the less entertaining, Jaws rip-offs .

I’ll be starting a new series called Odd & Unique where I’ll discuss films that defy genre identification, but at the same time are too fascinating to ignore. This won’t be a regular series like Western Wednesdays and The Case of the Melodic Gialli that’ll rotate, but instead will be done only on occasion when I feel a film I’ve viewed fits the bill. I think you’ll enjoy it when I do post them.

Finally, if there’s any film you wan’t me to write about, please feel free to check out A Tour of My Collection or My Man Cave Tour of my collection posts and pick a film out of my collection that you find interesting. List whatever film you want to write about in the comments section which is open here.

Take care all, and stay safe.

Tony Nash, AKA Movie Fan Man


Filed under: Annoucements

Shakespearean & Grecian Tragedy: Italian Style

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

Keoma (1976) - IMDb

Keoma (1976) ****1/2 R

Franco Nero: Keoma Shannon

William Berger: William Shannon

Woody Strode: George, Keoma’s Ally

Olga Kariatos: Liza Farrow

Orso Maria Guerini: Butch Shannon

Joshua Sinclair: Sam Shannon (as John Loffredo)

Donal O’Brien: Caldwell, Raider Leader (as Donald O’Brien)

Antonio Marsina: Lenny Shannon

Gabriella Giacobbe: The Old Witch

Wolfgango Soldati: Caldwell Raider Member

Written by: George Eastman (as Luigi Montefiore), Mino Roli, Nico Ducci, & Enzo G. Castellari, with dialogue by Joshua Sinclair

Directed by: Enzo G. Castellari

Synopsis: Keoma Shannon, a man with White and Native American blood, returns from the Civil War to find the town he grew up in ravaged by a plague. A Confederate Renegade and his band have taken over the town under the pretense of keeping the epidemic under control, all the while stealing and selling much needed commodities as the sick die. With the help of his father and a faithful retired ranch hand, Keoma decides to help the town that shunned him against both the Renegades, and his evil stepbrothers, who’ve sided with the Renegades.


By 1975, the Italian Western genre was a shell of its former self and was completely overwhelmed with ultra-low budget fares that at times could be entertaining and comedies that were at times an insult to the genre. Genre star Franco Nero and Enzo G. Castellari, one of the key directors of the genre, decided it was time to bring the genre back to its roots with the hopes that it could be revived and kept going. Italian Western supporting player George Eastman at this period was beginning a second career as a screenwriter under his Italian birth name, and he wrote a story centering on a man considered an outcast by his adoptive brothers and the community they live in, and upon returning from an unnamed war, must save the town from his brothers. Castellari was intrigued by Eastman’s initial treatment and bought the rights from Eastman and began the screenplay. What came from Castellari and his co-writers was a story of a half Indian-half Anglo-Saxon man (these types of characters were usually portrayed as half Indian-half Spanish), facing prejudice from all sides, his only allies being his father, a dying pregnant woman, a ranch hand, and a dutiful doctor, and must face down evil one last time.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Castellari, Eastman, and the other screenwriters drew inspiration from playwrights of old like William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Euripides, etc, for the film, Keoma’s relationship with his brothers is very reminiscent of the relationship between Polynices and Eteocles in Oedipus at Colonus, the three daughters in King Lear, and any of the relationships among the gods and mortals in the varied stories in Greek Mythology. Sibling rivalry and racism is the main point of the film as Keoma was the favored son of his father, and the constant enemy of his step brothers as they feel his mother being Native American stains the family name. It’s only when the father confesses that Keoma is in fact blood related to one of the others, and thus keeps them from killing Keoma as that would leave the mystery sibling guilty of legitimate fratricide. Hatred of Native Americans and those of Mixed Ethnic roots were still shunned regularly in the Old West and rarely was anyone willing to speak up for those who were different.

Franco Nero as Keoma in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Franco Nero, in his third to last Western, gives a heartfelt and memorable performance as the title character of Keoma Shannon. Keoma is probably Nero’s most complex role ever, both in genre cinema and art house cinema, a man filled with conflicting emotions and uncertain of where life will lead him. A man born to two different worlds, that of European Caucasians and the Native American tribes, and belonging to neither in that he accepts both the cultures he has roots in, Keoma is given no other choice but to wander the land trying to do what he believes is right and stand up for those who can’t help themselves. Much of his idealism was lost while fighting for the Union during the Civil War, even going so far as to ask his father if certain aspects of the conflict were really worth all the death and chaos. Keoma doesn’t necessarily try to be heroic, as he knows no one will ever give him the credit for helping, but his sense of honor and integrity won’t allow him to stand by while suffering and violence is happening. That he must battle both his racist half brothers who loathe him more than anything, and the Confederate Raiders they’ve sided with because they felt the town never took them seriously. Keoma will soon have to face a journey of both spiritual and emotional proportions if he intends to go on living and learns to live with the imperfections of those around him.

William Berger and Woody Strode make up two of the only people that have accepted Keoma for who he is and love him dearly.

William Berger as William Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

Berger, an Austrian actor who acted all over the world, plays William Shannon, the father of Keoma and his half brothers Butch, Sam, and Lenny. The senior Shannon is a war hero and successful rancher who faces Shakespearian difficulties when he has an impassioned affair with a Native American woman that leads to the birth of Keoma. His other sons, firmly believing in their Caucasian roots from his first marriage constantly torment Keoma because of his mixed heritage, and the Shannon Patriarch only prevents all out bloodshed when he tells his other sons one them is also the product of his relationship with Keoma’s mother, but his refusal to tell which brother is blood related to Keoma is what in facts stops the more lethal bullying. (This aspect was more prominent in George Eastman’s original treatment, but only hinted at in the final script.) While he loved all his sons, William knew Butch, Sam, and Lenny were far more spoiled and acted out aggressively, leading to their eventual turning as outlaws, and leaves him right in the middle of the feud Keoma has landed himself in with his brothers and the evil Renegade leader destroying the town.

Woody Strode as George in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Woody Strode, the football player turned actor, and the first African American to really feature prominently in the films of the 1960’s thanks in part to his friendship with John Ford, plays George, a former worker on the Shannon ranch turned drunken vagabond. It’s never really made clear if George was a slave that William Shannon later freed and kept him on as a paid employee, or if he was a free black man with whom Shannon hired in regular fashion to work on his ranch, but it is clear he was treated very well by his employer, and acted as Keoma’s tutor and protector, teaching him the art of music, the skill of the bow, and many other necessities of living deep in the country. How and why George became a drunkard is never fully explained, but it’s strongly hinted he suffered quite a bit of bad luck over the years and this led to much misfortune that broke his spirits for a time. When Keoma returns and decides to get rid of the Raiders and his brothers, he also inspires George to clean himself up and help him out, reliving some of his glory days and earning back his self-respect.

Joshua Sinclair as Sam Shannon in Keoma (1976) | Once Upon a Time in a  Western

US expate actor and writer Joshua Sinclair who plays Sam Shannon in the film, and would later rise to fame with his finely detailed biodrama trilogy novels of the story of Shaka Zulu and the Zulu people, did uncredited work on the film’s dialog. Since the film was a mix of traditional genre storytelling, Art-House style imagery and photography, and poetic dialog from writers of ages past, Castellari felt, after sampling some of Sinclair’s writings, would be perfect to hone the casts lines and mannerisms and give it the feel of a Shakesperian or Grecian Tragedy, which both Castellari and star Franco Nero felt was greatly achieved by Sinclair’s help.

Keoma (1976) Review |BasementRejects

Religious Symbolism also plays a huge role in the film. Keoma sometimes comes off as a Christ-like figure in his dignity, honor, and commitment to peace, but his experiences in the Civil War and the various discrimination he suffered throughout the years have him fairly weary of other people, thus giving this reference a bit of complexity. Liza, the sole main female character of the film also has her place in this use of Symbolism. The baby she’s about to give birth to acts as the representation of a new generation of people to come in the wake of the loss of many due to the war and the various sicknesses that came after. The characters of Keoma, his father, his brothers, George, and even the Raiders represent the dying era of racism, bigotry, and old-world values that were slowly becoming irrelevant and out of touch. The child represents a chance to start afresh and learn from the mistakes of the previous generations so such evils may never grow into what they were in the past.

Keoma (Blu-ray) : DVD Talk Review of the Blu-ray

Keoma was seen from the get-go to be a comeback film for the Italian Western genre, to show it could return to the prosperous period it had enjoyed in the 60’s, and was a genre that wouldn’t die out. In spite of a very compelling story, creative cinematography, subtle mixtures of symbolism and relevant materials of the day and so on, the film’s chaotic switching from Art House style to genre style so frequently that both audiences and critics were uncertain of how to classify it.

(I do highly recommend this late era Italian Western as its one of the few outside Sergio Leone’s style of film-making that can pull you in emotionally as well as be entertaining. That you can feel for the characters on so many levels even with the chaotic crisscross of genres and cinematic style is a feat in-of-itself as at times as a viewer its hard to pinpoint how to view the film. The music by the De Angelis brothers, while good on many levels, suffers a little from an unusual style of singing that, while viewed by many of the genre as a weak point of the film, actually helps guide the viewer through the story, acting as an unusual folk ballad. Arrow Video once again outdoes itself with its usual immaculate audio and visual restorations of the film. The film keeps its 70’s vibe will looking very pristine at the same time, an d both the English and Italian audio ring loud and clear. A slew of extras including interviews with Nero, Castellari, George Eastman, and others are a real treat to have and offer really nice insight into the making of a late era classic.)

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Keoma (Arrow US) (Blu-Ray)

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

A New Django, A New Vendetta

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(Mild Spoilers)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Review is of the Italian language version)

W Django! (1971)

W Django! (Viva! Django/A Man Called Django) (1971) PG-13 ****1/2

Anthony Steffen: Django

Stelio Candelli: Jeff

Glauco Onorato: Carranza

Donato Castellaneta: Paco

Chris Avram: Capitan Gomez (as Cris Avram)

Giovanni Cianfriglia: Jeff Gang Member

Riccardo Pizzuti: Thompson

Simonetta Vitelli: Inez (as Simone Blondell)

Esmerelda Barros: Lola

Benito Steffanelli: Ibanez

Remo Capitani: Sam

Written by: Nino Stresa

Directed by: Edoardo Mulargia (as Edward G. Muller)

Synopsis: After four bandits rape and murder his wife, gunslinger Django goes on a quest to find them and take his revenge. After freeing a Mexican horse thief from a lynch mob, Django learns three of the men are now: a respected businessman, a captain in the Mexican Federales, and the leader of a gang of smugglers. The horse thief keeps quiet about the fourth man, raising questions as to if he knows more than he’s willing to say.

W Django! AKA A Man Called Django! 1971 | Download movie

By 1971, the Italian Western was beginning its slow decline into a comedic shadow of its former self. There were some films however, such as Prega il Morto e Ammazza il Vivo (Shoot the Living and Pray for the Dead), Condenados a Vivir (Cutthroats 9), Su la Mani, Cadavere! Sei in Arresto (Hands Up Dead Man! You’re Under Arrest), Lo Chiamavano King (His Name Was King), and W Django, that were still quite good and held firm to the traditions and themes that made the genre great. W Django is probably the best of the bunch in that it took the formulaic story of murder and revenge and did an imaginative take on it. This go around has the famous gunslinger Django (many fans still debate if this is an official sequel to the Franco Nero original or not) on the pursuit of four criminals who broke into his home and killed his wife, but not before savagely raping her in the process. Django’s only clue is that one of the four men is currently leading a band of smugglers selling arms to both revolutionaries and the Mexican Federales. With the aid of a Mexican thief whom he saved from a lynching Django goes from place to place looking for the men who ruined his life. That the main character has only vague ideas of what the majority of the men he’s after look like, save for one, and must rely on a man who claims to have knowledge of where he can find his quarry make trust a very difficult thing as Django must constantly wonder what’s around the corner.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Anthony Steffen, of the many icons of the Italian West, plays the title role of Django. Normally known for being stiff and wooden in his acting, Steffen actually delivers a very effective performance of a man whose life has lost all meaning after a horrible tragedy. The loss of the woman he loved has left Django a shell and void of the lust of life, but before resigning from the human race, must avenge his wife so she can have peace. Steffen’s stone face is perfect for the loner who has little to say and has only one single goal in mind, but still manages to convey some empathy for the character in that the loss of his wife was very hard for him. While his single thought is revenge, that one of the killers/rapists has a dominant hold over a town for his own nefarious purposes gives Django a chance to do one last big thing right, even if it’s really only an afterthought to his original intention.

A Man Called Django (1971) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Glauco Onorato, an Italian character actor known equally for his dub work, particularly of fellow Italian Bud Spencer, offers a fine performance as the bandit Carranza. Resembling Eli Wallach from his roles as Tuco and Calvera, Carranza comes off initially as a low-level criminal who simply had the misfortune of being caught in the act of horse thieving. When it looked like he was gonna be lynched for the act, his life is surprisingly saved by the mysterious Django. Seemingly looking to repay Django’s aid, Carranza mentions he believes he knows where to find the men Django is looking for, and offers to accompany him in case his quarry has men around to protect his savior so he can have his revenge properly. Carranza, though, seems a little too willing to offer a hand, and soon the question becomes of what is he not telling Django about the case at hand. Whether he truly can be trusted or whether he knows more than meets the eye, or even protecting someone will only come to light when the time is right.

Stello Candelli as Jeff, giving orderrs to his men in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Chris Avram as Maj. Gomez, one of the men Django's seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Riccardo Pizzuti as Thompson, one of the men Django seeks in “A Man Called Django” (1972)

Italian actors Stelio Candelli and Riccardo Pizzuti, and Romanian actor Chris Avram portray three of 4 men Django is looking to get for murdering his wife. Avram and Pizzuti’s characters have become respectable since committing the heinous act, Avram’s guy rising through the ranks of the Federales into a high level of command, though he still commits crooked acts here and there and Pizzuti’s guy is now a successful, albeit still devious, businessman. When they each meet with Django one stays the coward he is while the other accepts his fate, but won’t go down without a fight. Stelio Candelli’s character is still very much a crook and has gone a step further as an unscrupulous mercenary selling weapons to both the Fascist Federales and the rebellious revolutionaries looking to take over Mexico. Unlike his compatriots, he fails to recognize Django who has been looking for him to kill him at first, but even then arrogantly doesn’t see him as a threat. When they finally settle face to face, it becomes intense.

W! Django (1971) *Greek Subtitles* part 1/2 - video dailymotion

While very standard in its storytelling, W Django is still a very action-packed film that offers up amazing choreography in said scenes, a interesting array of characters, and a nice twist that, while not entirely unexpected, is still surprising in how it’s revealed.

(I highly recommend this early Late Era Italian Western as, while it came in that time period when the genre was beginning to deteriorate and falling into the hole of Comedy parodying and comic tales, it manages to retain the Golden Era style and themes that made it popular from the get go. The story in kinda generic in a way, but at the same time is told in a very interesting fashion that avoids the film being labeled as repetitive and copycatting, giving it its own voice. Anthony Steffen gets one of his rare opportunities  in this film to show he wasn’t a completely wooden actor and could deliver a fine performance when given enough room and chance. There are two Blu Ray releases of this film, one from Japan’s Orustak Pictures and the other from France’s Artus Films. I have the French Blu Ray Digibook and the restoration is very crisp and clean, looking much  like it did back in the day. The audio, which is only offered in Italian and French, are still very good to listen to and don’t appear to have much age or wear damage present in them. the extras aren’t English friendly either, but are still very interesting to have as they offer a new and different take on the genre. I haven’t seen the Japanese Blu Ray myself, but I do know it’s Italian language only with Japanese subtitles. The Japanese do fairly well in their Blu Ray and DVD restorations from what I’ve heard and seen as far as stills go and offer up the best product they can, so it’s a safe bet to go for, but the price differential can be tricky.)

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

Family Drama and Revenge in the Old West

by Tony Nash

(A Part of Western Wednesdays)

(All opinions are of the author alone)

(Mild Spoilers)

(Review is of the Spanish language version of the film)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) - IMDb

Ocaso de un Pistolero (Mani di Pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Hands of a Gunman) (1965) PG-13 ***

Craig Hill: Dan Murphy (as Graig Hill)

Gloria Milland: Miriam Murphy

Carlos Romero Marchent: Pat Davis

Jose Guardiola: John Castle

Piero Lulli: Davey Castle

Raf Baldassarre: Deputy Sheriff Mack (as Ralph Baldwin)

Jesus Puente: Sheriff Robert Rogers

Lorenzo Robledo: Slim Castle

Hugo Blanco: Charlie Castle

Francisco Sanz: Alex Dixon (as Paco Sanz)

Conchita Nunez: Margaret Dixon Davis

Francisco Huetos: Andy Rogers Murphy

Written by: Joaquin Romero Marchent (as Joaquin Romero Hernandez)

Directed by: Rafael Romero Marchent

Synopsis: Dan Murphy, a gunman attempting to go straight, sees his world shattered when his infant son is accidentally killed by his rival Sheriff Rogers. Acting on an eye for eye, Murphy takes Rogers infant son away from him, raising the boy as his own. When Murphy must come to the aid of his friend Pat Davis, a young and recently married farmer, against the vicious Castle brothers, Rogers’ blindly loyal deputy threatens to arrest Murphy for his past sins unless Rogers’ son is returned to him. With two threats facing him, Dan is forced to take a long hard look at himself.

Ocaso de un pistolero/Hands of a Gunfighter/Mani di pistolero ...

Rafael Romero Marchent and Carlos Romero Marchent, the sons of filmmaker Joaquin Romero Marchent, make their debuts as director and actor respectively in Pistolero, written by their father. Continuing the family tradition of telling stories about gunmen having to face down their pasts as they try to do right by their loved ones, the senior Marchent crafted a story about a gunman who’s so hated by the town sheriff that the man blindly fires his gun at him, killing the gunman’s infant son. When the gunman pays back the sheriff by kidnapping his infant son so he and wife can raise the child they were robbed of, questions of right and wrong come into play and if some actions are truly justifiable. A nice side plot also includes the reforming gunman trying to help out his neighbors, a recently married couple, when one of a quartet of vicious brothers takes an interest in the young bride, recreating a classic element of both American and Italian Westerns.

Hands of a Gunfighter / Ocaso de un pistolero (1965) / AvaxHome

Craig Hill (credited as Graig Hill), a Mid-West born American actor who suddenly found himself without work after the hit series he starred in, Whirlybirds, ended, went over to Europe to star in his first Western. Dan Murphy is a bit of a mix, having elements of both American West tragic heroes and Euro West tragic heroes, as he wants to do right by his family and friends, but at the same time feels as if Destiny is against him and must do what he can to attain even the tiniest bit of happiness. Even at the beginning of the film he was getting his life on track, only to have it go on a dark path when his enemy the sheriff, who wouldn’t leave him alone, accidentally shoots his baby son, leading to revelations that show certain characters for who they truly are. When he’s hit with double trouble in the form of his good friend needing help in protecting himself and his wife from the less than honorable Castle brothers and the even less honorable sheriff threatening to ruin his life if he doesn’t get the son he never even tried to track down before back, the only grip Dan had left on his hopes and sanity begins to crumble, and even begins to believe his wife is turning against him.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) — The Movie Database (TMDb)

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) | Once Upon a Time in a Western

Ocaso de un pistolero | SincroGuia

A slew of characters including Piero Lulli, Jesus Puente, Raf Baldassarre, Gloria Milland, Lorenzo Robledo, Francisco Sanz, and Hugo Blanco all make up the various characters in Dan’s life, whether they be allies, family, or enemies. The notable exceptions in the cast are Lulli as Davey Castle and Puente as Sheriff Robert Rogers. Lulli plays Castle as a slimy menacing type who instigates some of the feud between his family and Pat Davis and Dan Murphy by forcing Pat’s father to take up a gun when he and his brothers look to intimate Pat and his family after Pat is forced to kill the one brother when he attempted to sexually attack his wife. Puente’s Sheriff Rogers appears to be little more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing as while he seems to have some remorse in killing Dan’s infant son, he never the less threatens to make Dan and his wife’s lives miserable even though he was the cause of all the misfortune. That he waits years to finally ask for his son back puts his fatherly love and devotion into serious question as he apparently knew for years where Murphy and his wife had taken his son and never bothered previously to try and get him back or at least plea to be given a chance at making things right. That he comes off right away as someone who acts in haste seems to make that point true.

Hands of a Gunfighter (1965) Download YIFY Movie Torrent - YTS

While more American in its story, theme, and characterizations rather than Italian or Spanish, Pistolero is still an intriguing early stage Euro Western that offers up some interest. The closest the film gets to the burgeoning Italian style that was finding its roots in the wake of Sergio Leone’s success is when Dan begins going after the Castle family when they go too far in terrorizing Pat Davis and his wife. His systematic eliminating of the brothers so they can’t get the drop on him is very much in the Leone style and is the most exciting part of the entire film, while the rest seems to have more of the feel of a Frontier Drama rather than a traditional Western.

(This Western is middle of the road in terms of interest, but is still worth checking out as it’s a unique example of the genre in it’s early stages, showing how they used American Westerns as the basis, and worked their own style and magic in. Craig Hill in his debut Italian Western role is very effective and compelling, showing he was a talent that Hollywood didn’t give much of a chance to grow and flourish. He certainly had leading man looks, but even if he’d only done character parts in both Hollywood and Europe he’d still have been a success. The Blu Ray from Koch Media’s Italian Western line is exquisite looking, offering a clear and crisp transfer of the visuals, and clear audio via Spanish, German, and English soundtracks. Some of the English track is missing and English subtitles are available for the spots were the audio reverts to the original Spanish language. The extras are an interview, theatrical trailers and a gallery.)

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