Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remembering Umberto D'Orsi

Umberto D’Orsi was born on July 30, 1929 in Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy. He graduated the university with a degree in law in 1953, but was already active in show business after at least three years of training as part of an amateur drama group and as well as an organizer of the university theater center. Vittorio Gassman offered him a part in his “Richard III” and from that moment his acting career took off.
He devoted time almost casually to the cinema and in 1962 saw his big chance by being discovered by Luciano Salce who directs him inLa cuccagna”; In the same year he also participates inIl processo di Verona” by Carlo Lizzani in which he plays his role with a great dramatic look of the hierarch fascist Luciano Gottardi.
D’Orsi was also a spokesman commercials where he gave birth to a famous caricature of Carousel, as the confusing the Belisario.
He was often seen, without a mustache, in many comedies with Franco and Ciccio, as well as an antagonist of Pippo Franco in the film, mostly famous for its curious title,Quel gran pezzo dell'Ubalda tutta nuda e tutta calda” (1972).
Umberto appeared in eight Euro-westerns from “Death Walks in Laredo (1966) as Bronson to “The Crazy Bunch” (1974) as the insane asylum director.
Umberto died on  August 31, 1976 at the age of just 47 years at the San Camillo Hospital in Rome, after a four-month hospitalization as a result of kidney disease. He was Married to actress Milly Ristori the great-granddaughter of the more famous Adelaide Ristori [1822-1906] and had recently returned to the theater in Goldoni Sior Todero Brontolon.
Today we remember Umberto D’Orsi on what would have been his 85th birthday.

Remembering Mario Bava

Mario Bava was born on July 30, 1914 in Sanremo, Liguria, Italy. His father, Eugenio Bava [1886-1966], was a cinematographer in the early days of the Italian film industry. Bava was trained as a painter, and when he eventually followed his father into film photography his artistic background led him to a strong belief in the importance of visual composition in filmmaking.
Other than a series of short films in the 1940s which he directed, Bava was a cinematographer until 1960. He developed a reputation as a special effects genius, and was able to use optical trickery to great success. Among the directors for whom Bava photographed films were Paolo Heusch, Riccardo Freda, Jacques Tourneur and Raoul Walsh. While working with Freda on “Lust of the Vampire” (1956), the director left the project after an argument with the producers and the film mostly unfinished. Bava stepped in and directed the majority of the movie, finishing it on schedule. This film, also known as "The Devil's Commandment", inspired a wave of gothic Italian horror films. After a similar incident occurred on Freda's “Caltiki, the Immortal Monster” (1959), and Bava's having been credited with "saving" Tourneur's “The Giant of Marathon” (1959), Galatea urged Bava to direct any film he wanted with their financing.
The film that emerged, “Black Sunday” (1960), is one his most well-known as well as one of his best. This widely influential movie also started the horror career of a beautiful but then unknown British actress named Barbara Steele. While Black Sunday is a black and white film, it was in the color milieu that the director excelled. The projects which followed began to develop stunning photography, making great use of lighting, set design, and camera positioning to compliment mise-en-scenes bathed in deep primaries. Through works such as “Hercules in the Haunted World” (1961), “The Whip and the Body” (1963), and “Planet of the Vampires” (1965), Bava's films took on the look of works of art. In the films “The Evil Eye” (1963) and “Blood and Black Lace” (1964), he created the style and substance of the giallo, a genre which would be perfected in the later films of Dario Argento.
Bava worked in many popular genres, including Viking films, peplum, Spaghetti westerns “The Road to Fort Alamo” (1964), “Savage Gringo” (1966) and “Roy Colt and Winchester Jack” (1970), action, and even softcore, but it is his horror films and giallo mystery films which stand out.
But after the commercial failure of his later films, as well as the unreleased works of “Rabid Dogs” (1974), Bava went into a decline and by 1975, retired from filmmaking all together. He was persuaded to come out of retirement at the request of his son, Lamberto, to direct “Shock”, as well as a made-for-Italian television movie. Mario Bava died from a sudden heart attack on April 27, 1980 at age 65. With his death, an era in Italian filmmaking had come to a close.
By Jeff Dove
Today we remember Mario Bava on what would have been his 100th birthday.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


El precio de un hombre – Spanish title
The Bounty Killer – Italian title
La morte ti segue… ma non ha fretta – Italian title
Doders van het westen – Belgium title
Bounty Killer, O Pistoleiro Mercenário – Brazilian title
O Preço de um Homem – Brazilian title
Dusoerdraeberen – Danish title
Les tueurs de l’Ouest – French title
Ohne Dollar keinen Sarg – German title
… der keine Gnade kennt – German title
Särge ohne Leichen – German title
I teleftaia efodos ton dolofonon – Greek title
O epikirygmenos tou El Paso – Greek title
7 Fredløse Menn – Norwegian title
Vinganca ao amanhecer – Portuguese title
Sju Fredlosa man – Swedish title
The Day of the Guns – English title
The Price of a Man – English title
The Ugly Ones – U.S.A. title
A 1966 Spanish, Italian co-production [Tecisa Film (Madrid), Discobolo Film (Rome)]
Producers: José Gutiérrez Maesso, Liliana Biancini
Director: Eugenio Martin (Eugenio Marquez)
Story: “The Bounty Killer” by Marvin H. Albert
Screenplay: José Gutiérrez Maesso, Eugenio Martin (Eugenio Marquez), Don Prindle (James Prindle)
Cinematography: Enzo Barboni [Color by Deluxe]
Music: Stelvio Cipriani
Running time: 95 minutes
José Gómez Faradin/Sanchez – Tomás Milian (Tomás Rodríguez)
Luke Chilson – Richard Wyler (Richard Stapley)
Anna Eden – Ella Karin (Alina Zalewska)
Gage Novak – Glenn Foster (Vincenzo Fiermonte)
Deserter – Hugo Blanco (Hugo Galiasso)
Ruth Harmon – Lola Gaos (Dolores González-Pola)
Miguel Cortinas – Mario Brega
Marty Hefner – Manuel Zarzo
Zacharias – Tito Garcia (Pablo González)
Antonio – Antonio Iranzo (Antonio Ecorijuela)
Doc – Fernando Sánchez Polack
Collins – Gene Collins
Gomez henchmen – Saturno Cerra
Juan Valdez – José Canalejas
Dave – Enrique Navarro
Bill – Gonzalo Esquiroz (Gonzalo de Esquiroz)
Stage station attendant – Ricardo Palacios (Ricardo Diez)
Max – Antonio Cintado
Federal Agent – Lusi Barboo
Wade Dempsey – Frank Braña (Francisco Pérez)
Bank teller – Goyo Lebrero
With: Charo Bernejo, Augusto Pesarini, Rafael Vaquero, Dennis Kilbane
Stunts: Miguel Pedregosa

A young woman named Anna Eden, manages to help the bloodthirsty outlaw José Faradin escape while he is being taken to prison. On the trail of the bandit is Luke Chilson, a bounty hunter who comes to a remote group of houses where Anna lives. Her he is sure to meet José too. So it happens and with a ploy the "bounty hunter" gets the upper hand. With the intervention of Faradin’s henchmen and the help of the local population who are romantically linked to the bandit, the situation becomes reversed. Luke remains a prisoner of José and is brutally tortured. In the meantime, both José and his men clearly demonstrate their intentions: some people are killed for no reason and all the villagers are robbed of their modest possessions. At this point, Anna, who has had the opportunity to get to really know José, frees Luke, and finally helped by the locals, is able to eliminate the terrible band.
YouTube trailer:

Happy 80th Birthday Bruno Scipioni

Bruno Scipioni was born on July 29, 1934 in Rome, Lazio, Italy. After graduating as an accountant he attended the Experimental Center of Cinematography. He began his film career with “Kapò” (1959) and he was most active during the 1960s, usually being cast as a character actor. During this time he appeared in eight Euro-westerns from “The Terrible Sheriff” in 1962 to “The Handsome, the Ugly and the Stupid” in 1967. He also appeared in such westerns as “Renegade Gunfighter” (1965) and “Ringo and His Golden Pistol” (1966).  He was also active on stage, television series, commercials and as voice actor. He is the father of voice actor Carlo Scipioni. He became well known for his portrayal of the bartender in the Italian Crodino commercials. He’s best remembered for his film work for his appearances in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film “The Red Desert” in 1964 and as Balthazar in Franco Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” in 1968.
His last film appearance was in “Excellent Cadavers” in 1999 where he played an assembly judge.
Today we celebrate Bruno Scipioni’s 80th birthday.

Monday, July 28, 2014

RIP James Shigeta

James Shigeta, a star Asian-American actor of the early 1960s and 'Die Hard' Co-Star, died in Los Angeles, California at the age of 85. He starred “In Flower Drum Song” (1961). Born in Honolulu of Japanese ancestry on June 17, 1929, Shigeta moved to New York and studied at New York University, then joined the U.S. Marine Corps and fought during the Korean War. He starred in “Flower Drum Song” (1961) with Nancy Kwan. He played Joseph Yoshinobu Takagi in 1988’s “Die Hard” with Bruce Willis. Shigeta co-starred with Thomas Hunter and Nadir Moretti in his only Euro-western: “Death Walks in Laredo” (1966).

Who Are Those Gals? - Simone Blondell

Simonetta Vitelli was born in Rome, Lazio, Italy on June 16, 1950. Simone is the daughter of producer, director screenwriter Demofilo Fidani [1914-1994] and screenwriter, costume designer Maria Rosa Valenza Vitelli [1923-2007]. Being the daughter of a director she found work early in films beginning in 1967 in “Stranger Say Your Prayers”. Her beauty, especially her hypnotic eyes, caught the viewer’s attention and she was more than well received. Thankfully Fidani used her in almost every Euro-western he made and as Simone Blondell she ended up appearing in fourteen Euro-westerns including “One Damned Day at Dawn” (1970), “Django and Sartana are Coming… It’s the End” (1971), “A Man Called Django!” (1971) and “Savage Guns”. She appeared with such Fidani regulars as Hunt Powers, Jeff Cameron, Klaus Kinski, Anthony Steffen, Gordon Mitchell, Fabio Testi and Robert Woods. She retired from acting after 1974’s “Terror! Il castello delle donne maledette” but is scheduled to appear in the eagerly anticipated new Euro-western “The Resurrection of El Puro” scheduled to go before the cameras this fall. Simone continues to work behind the cameras as a set designer, costume designer. Still as beautiful, vivacious and charming as ever, it’s always hoped she revives her film career and we see much more of her on the screen in the coming years.
BLONDELL, Simone (aka Simone Blondel, Mariangela Matania) (Simonetta Vitelli) [6/16/1950 Rome, Lazio, Italy -     ] - film editor, costume designer, daughter of producer, director, screenwriter Demofilo Fidani [1914-1994], producer, director, screenwriter, actress Maria Rosa Vitelli Valenza [1923-2007], married to producer Paolo Lucidi [1951-    ] (19??-19??), mother of Lorenzo Luccidi[1981-    ], actress Francesca Lucidi [1983-    ].
Pray to God and Dig Your Grave – 1967 (Don Enrique’s maid)
Stranger Say Your Prayers – 1967 (Sullivan daughter)
And Now Make Your Peace with God - 1968 (Trudy Sullivan)
Shadow of Sartana… Shadow of Your Death – 1968 (Trudy)
4 Came to Kill Sartana - 1969 (Susy Prescott)
Stranger Say Your Prayers! - 1969 
Zorro the Lawman - 1972 (Perla Dominguez)
Dead Men Don’t Make Shadows - 1970 (Maya)
One Damned Day at Dawn... Django Meets Sartana - 1970 (Widow Sturges)
Django and Sartana are Coming... It’s the End - 1971 (Anne/Jessica Cobb/Brewster)
Django Story - 1971
A Man Called Django! - 1971 (Inez)
Savage Guns - 1971 (Fanny)
Showdown for a Badmen - 1971 (Monica Benson/Irene)
Everything for a Friend - 1972 (Pearl)
Memories from the Near West – 2008 [herself]
The Resurrection of El Puro – 2013 [in production]
Stracult – 2014 [herself]

Happy 55th Birthday Manuel Hernandez

Manuel Rafael Hernández Montoya was born on July 28, 1959 in Los Albaricoques, Nijar, Andalusia, Spain. Manuel grew up in Los Albaricoques and was a small boy when Sergio Leone and his crew came to town to film “Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”. His mother, aunt and cousin were used as extras in the films. In “For a Few Dollars More” the town had recently held a funeral for one of the citizens and the women were still shrouded in black dress which was perfect for Sergio as inhabitants of his fictional Agua Caliente where the townspeople didn’t like visitors. Manuel himself would later play a young soldier in “El Condor” (1969).
A former teacher, today he owns the Hostal Rural Alba and Casa Rural La Minilla. Manuel has been instrumental in preserving the history of the village. Street names have been named after Leone, Van Cleef and Eastwood. He was instrumental in reconstructing the deteriorated ring where the final showdown between Colonel Mortime and El Indio took place. His Hostal contains many murals and photos from the days when films were made in the town. He’s even created his own brand of wine with Clint Eastwood pictured on the label. In 2013 he was a prominent figure in the TV episode  ‘Este es mi pueblo: El Cortijo de El Fraile y Los Albaricoques’ dressed as Lee Van Cleef and proudly showing off the town.
As the head of the Nijar Cultural Development Committee put together an homage for the 25th anniversary of Sergio Leone’s death and the town had a one day celebration with a staging of scenes from “For a Few Dollars More” and a showing of the film. 
Today we celebrate the 55th birthday, one of the men who is keeping the dream alive Manuel R. Hernández.