Sunday, May 31, 2009

Happy 60th Birthday Tom Berenger

Born Thomas Michael Moore on May 31, 1949 in Chicago, Illinois, he chose Berenger as his stage name after a school friend as there was already a Thomas Moore listed in the Actors Equity Assoc. After graduation from the University of Missouri he worked in regional theater and then mover to New York City. He worked on TV soap operas and made his film debut as the lead in the 1976 film “Rush It”. His career peaked in the 1980s with several leading roles. He continues to make appearances in film and television and became a producer in the 1990s. Berenger made two Euro-westerns “Rustler’s Rhapsody” (1984) as Rex O’Herlihan and “One Man’s Hero” (1998) as Sergeant John Riley. Today we wish him a happy 60th birthday.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

RIP Jack Lewis

Screenwriter Jack C. Lewis died at his Hawaiian home on May 24, 2009. Born in Iowa in n1924, Lewis was an actor, stuntman and production assistant since 1949. He owned his own publishing company for 37 years and also owned Gun World Magazine before retiring 1997 and moving to Hawaii. He continued to write articles and books using the name C. Jack Lewis. He was a co-writer of 1965’s “Black Eagle of Santa Fe”.

Aux mains des bandits

Aux mains des bandits

A 1911 French production [Eclipse (Paris)]
Director: Jean Durand
Cinematography: Émile Pierre [black & white]
Running time:

Joë Hammon (Jean Hammon)

Story unknown.

Happy 70th Birthday Michael J. Pollard

Born Michael John Pollack, Jr. in Passaic, New Jersey on May 30, 1939. Pollard attended Montclair Academy and the Actors Studio. His first appearance was in a 1959 TV adaptation of the “Human Comedy”. He’s best remembered for his role as C.W. Moss in “Bonnie and Clyde” for which he received a Best Supporting Actors nomination. Because of his short stature he played child roles well into his twenties. Pollard appeared as Marshal Jeffords in the French western “The Legend of Frenchie King” (1971) and as Clem in “Four of the Apocalypse” (1974). Today we wish him a happy 70th birthday.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Book

Author: Reiner Boller
Publisher Reinhard Marheinecke
Paperback 320 pages
ISBN 978-3-932053-67-2

GUSTAVO ROJO – A biography of the great actor who was unforgettable in his appearances in the Karl May films. He made a lasting impression to the citizens of Berlin, Germany in the Winnetou films.

He was an actor known world-wide like no other actor. He appeared in over 70 films and acted in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Peru, Italy and Germany. Follow Gustavo Rojo on his adventure around the world during his acting career in which he tells for the first time his 1001 adventures in his life from Tarzan to Winnetou. Supplemented by remarks from his friends as well as colleagues along with unpublished photos.

Author Reiner Boller lives in Rennerod (Westerwald) and has been working on this documentary with Gustavo Rojo for many years. He has written several books and contributed articles to many publications on the stars of the golden era of film. The book is published by Reinhard Marheinecke which concentrates on individual actors of Europe as well as America.

Spaghetti Western Locations

Los Albaricoques is north of San Jose and is an actual Spanish village, not a movie set. Sergio Leone used this site in both “Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”.

One of Leone’s tricks was to film a location in one direction and then turning the camera around 180 degrees and filming it in the opposite direction to make it look like another location was used. In this village he used one street for “Fistful of Dollars” and on the opposite side of the buildings seen here was another street used in “For a Few Dollars More” for Agua Caliente where Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef shot the apples off the tree. Walking down these streets gives one a feeling of déjà vu. You can still see doorways, walls and buildings that Clint and Lee walked through and hid behind.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Aux mains des brigands

Aux mains des brigands – French title

A 1912 French production [Eclipse (Paris)]
Director: Joë Hammon (Jean Hammon)
Cinematography: [black & white]
Running time: 610 meters

Arziona Bill - Joë Hammon (Jean Hammon)
with Miss Vesta Harold (Vesta Harold)

Part of “The Adventures of Arizona Bill” film series.

Remembering Horst Frank

He was born Horst Bernhard Wilhelm Frank in Lubeck, Germany on May 28, 1929. After graduation he completed an apprenticeship as a trader before enrolling in an acting class at the Music Academy in Hamburg. After his final exam in 1951, he appeared in plays at the theatre in Bonn, Basel, Wuppertal and Baden-Baden, where he became a member of the Südwestfunk ensemble and started working in television productions.

In 1956, he made his screen debut as a cynical coward in the war film “Der Stern von Africa”. From 1959 on he appeared in International productions mostly in Italy and France. He married actress Chariklia Baxevanos in 1960. The marriage lasted only a year. He also became a framer raising coffee and vegetables in Tansania.

In his early years he portrayed sensitive loners and neurotic characters. From the 1960s on he was typecast as a villain in Italian and German westerns. In 1973 he returned to the stage with his own production company. In the 1980s he became a fixture on German crime TV series. Frank published his autobiography in 1981 and a book of poems in 1989. Horst Frank had two children and married actress Brigitte Kollecker in 1979 and they remained together until his death on May 25, 1999 following a heart attack, We remember Horst Frank today on what would have been his 80th birthday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

RIP Fernando Hilbeck

Spanish actor Fernando Hilbeck died in Madrid, Spain on April 25, 2009 of natural causes. Hilbeck’s father was of British origin but he himself was born in Madrid on July 7, 1933. He studied in Peru and graduated with a degree in Humanities from the University of Lima. It was also the place where he first became active in acting on stage which carried over to Rome where he was first offered roles in Hollywood films like “Francis of Assisi” and “Barabbas” both 1961. After this he returned to Spain where he began a long film career. Hilbeck was a favorite of producer, director Sidney Pink and appeared in the Euro-westerns “The Christmas Kid” and “The Tall Women” among other Pink productions.

HILBECK, Fernando full name Fernando José Hilbeck Gavalda
Born: 7/7/1933, Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Died: 4/25/2009, Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Fernando Hilbeck’s Euro-westerns:
Welcome Padre Murray – 1962
The Terrible Sheriff – 1962
The Sign of the Coyote 1963 (Joaquin)
Dollars for a Fast Gun – 1965
Son of a Gunfighter – 1966 (Joaquin)
Kid Rodelo – 1966 (Perryman)
The Christmas Kid – 1966 (Jud Walters)
The Tall Women – 1966 (White Cloud)
The Vengeance of Pancho Villa – 1966
Villa Rides! – 1968
Zorro, the Rider of Vengeance – 1970
Pancho Villa – 1971 (Ramon)
The Man Called Noon – 1973 (Mitt Ford)

Saddling Up: Chuck Dixon on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

By Matt Brady

Dynamite is renaming and relaunching it’s The Man With No Name in July as something with a bit more zazz: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Spearheading this new launch, a no-brainer for Western comic fans: writer Chuck Dixon.
Together with artist Esteve Polls, Dixon will kick off the new series with the five part “Dead Man’s Hand” story, and we spoke with him about it.

Newsarama: Chuck - for your fans, you winding up on The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a no brainer. Before we get into the comic side of things, can you tell us a little about what the movie is to you? Would you say it affected you and influences your writing?

Chuck Dixon: I thought it was a no-brainer too. But not everyone saw that at first. No brag. Just fact. Some writers are more suited to certain material than others and doing a comic based on an Italian Western was a natural fit for me.

The Man With No Name movies (and Spaghetti Westerns in general) are very influential on my work. The deliberate pacing. The attention to details of dress and locale. The way mood is set with visuals and the dearth of expository dialogue and the grand operatic themes have all had an effect on the way I approach telling a story in comics.

NRAMA: You've been listed as one of the writers on the book since before, when it was called by its other name. Were you approached by Nick Barrucci, or was this a case of you heard Nick had the license, and you tracked him down to get a slot in the writing lineup?

CD: I’ve known Nick for many years. When he first assigned the book to other writers I seriously busted his stone for not asking me first. Every so often a property comes to comics that I feel I could bring a lot to. The Man With No Name is one. And why I’ve never been asked to write an Indiana Jones comic is beyond me. Again, no ego here. But my track record indicates a certain range that I have success in and there’s a number of properties that fall into that.

NRAMA: As we've spoken with the other writers on the book, the films are one thing, and a comic book is another. Obviously, you have to carry some characteristics of the films over to the comic, but what's key in your view, in making sure The Good, the Bad and the Ugly comic book feels like the films?

CD: Period detail is important. The Sergio Leone films emphasized every detail from clothing to weaponry. There’s a kind of tactile intimacy in the movies that makes everything seem so real. Also the need to pull our point of view way back for the vistas and bring it in for the tight compositions to show shifts in emotion. The dark humor is important too. And sparse, sparse, sparse dialogue. These characters only talk when necessary and never talk directly about the plot.
NRAMA: Tell us about the Man With No Name. As his writer, how much do you even know about him? Is it necessary for you to have a back story in mind for him when you're writing, or are you keeping him more or less at arm's length even as you're writing him?

CD: The Man With No Name is the classic, iconic loner. He’s the man with no past. This allows him to be a universally recognizable figure that anyone can project themselves on. We learn all we need to know about him by what he does. And because we know so little and because his actions are the only information we receive, we’re fascinated by what he’ll do next. Even then we’re not sure of his motivations.

NRAMA: How did you "start" with your story? Did you have an idea in mind prior to this? The assignment got you thinking? Or are you making it up as you go, to touch on your Indy reference?

CD: It’s a Western and the genre is simplicity itself. It’s confrontation that ends and is resolved through violence. The writer’s job is what the confrontation is based on and how to get to that violent conclusion. At the end of the day, The Wild Bunch and Blazing Saddles are both Westerns.

I knew I wanted to deal with events just after the end of hostilities in the Civil War. I knew I wanted to have the action in Mexico. I knew I wanted to trump the final film and have four bad guys instead of just two. I had my opening and went from there. Italian Westerns are in my DNA. This stuff just flowed out of me.

NRAMA: That said, tell us about your story a little - what brings in “The Man?” And also – your story is called "Dead Man's Hand" - obviously there's some card playing...

CD: There’s a game of chance but not one you want to play.

The Man is after a train robber with a big bounty on his head. This outlaw joins the ex-Confederate soldiers who rode into Mexico by the thousands to sell their skills as mercenaries to Maximilian, the emperor of Mexico. So our hero has to follow his prey hoping to cut him out of an entire army and bring him back to hang in Texas. Of course, things go from bad to worse.

The card theme comes in with El Jugador (The Gambler) a sadistic bandit who plays a really sick little card game with anyone unlucky enough to cross his path.

NRAMA: For a moment, I thought there was going to be a Kenny Rogers cameo (laughs). Bigger-picture wise, are you allowed to touch upon elements from the films, or do you have to spin completely out in your own direction?

CD: I haven’t really been given any direction. I’m like a single cell organism when I write. If I bump into something that’s wrong I re-write to get around it. The Leone films are so spare that the only continuity is The Man himself.

NRAMA: You’ve said that the genre is simple, and the story is sparse – so in your mind, what are the "cant’s" involved in telling a story with “The Man?”

CD: For me, The Man is just a self-interested bastard. He’s only the hero because his enemies are bigger bastards than him. Even when he shows a rare moment of kindness it’s never one that inconveniences him. He’s no softie.

NRAMA: This arc is listed as being five parts - are you sticking around after that, or was this your one The Good, the Bad and the Ugly story and you're out?

CD: I’m here until the wheels come off. Nick let me in and I’m not leaving willingly. There’s Tuco hanging around out there. And I want to take The Man to other areas of the West and have him meet Spaghetti Western archetypes he hasn’t met yet.

New Spagetti Western CD

Japanese release Verita Note #VQCD-10077
May 27, 2009

Track listing
1. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Titoli - Seq. 1)
2. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 2)
3. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 3)
4. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 4)
5. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 5)
6. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 6)
7. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 7)
8. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 8)
9. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 9)
10. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 10)
11. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 11)
12. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 12)
13. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 13)
14. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 14)
15. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 15)
16. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 16)
17. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Seq. 17)
18. È tornato Sabata... hai chiuso un'altra volta (Finale - Seq. 18)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

RIP Helen Isenberg

[Helen with son Justin]

I don't like to make personal posts but there are exceptions. A good friend of mine's wife passed away this past Saturday which I just learned of today. Helen Isenberg died in Pittsburgh, PA. She had spent the last 30 days fighting a variety of issues with peaks and valleys. My dear friend Raymie and his son Justin were at her side when she left this world. Helen was only 55.

The funeral is tomorrow and I ask all of the readers of this blog to keep them in your thoughts and prayers at this time. Luckily we were all able to be together in Tombstone, AZ this past March. Little did we know it would be the last time we would see and be with her. Rest in peace dear lady you will not be forgotten.

"Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile."

A chat with Hal Linden

Hal Linden, of 'Barney Miller' TV fame is a Tony Award-winning actor and will star in Mitch Albom and Jeffrey Hatcher's stage adaptation of the best-selling memoir Tuesdays with Morrie in Toronto.

Ted Dykstra will direct the limited engagement that will play Toronto's Winter Garden Theatre May 8-30. Tuesdays with Morrie, which officially opens May 12, is presented by the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company.

Linden has long been thought to have done the English voice of Tomas Milian in several of his Spaghetti Westerns including "The Big Gundown."

My friend Biltmore was able to chat with him for a moment and sent me the following e-mail, "Got to speak briefly with actor Hal Linden over the weekend. I asked him about his dubbing days. He did voice work between 1961 and 1966. He's very proud of working on 'Godzilla Vs Mothra'. He thought he may have voiced a western, but was'nt sure. He thought they all were done in Rome. He couldn't recall working on any Lee Van Cleef films of any sort. Didn't recognize the name Tomas Milian. So its unlikely he voiced any spaghetti westerns. Feel free to post this on your blog."

RIP Pedro Sempson

Pedro Sempson Garido retired from show business in 2001 but is still recognized as the Spanish voice of such TV characters as Geoffrey the butler on “The Prince of Bel Air” and as Mr. Montgomery Burns on “The Simpsons”. Sempson who died May 24th at the age of 88, in Barcelona, Spain, had developed a solid career in Spanish television dramas such as “Estudio1, Novela”, “Teatro de siempre o Historias para no dormer” "Don Lápiz", and "Un, dos, tres; responda otra vez". Sempson began his career as a stage actor and appeared in several films including his collaboration with Chicho Ibáñez Serrador in several Horror films in the 1960s. Since 1978 Sempson focused his career on dubbing and was involved in over 500 films and Television programs. One of his memorable voices was as the Spanish voice of Peter Cushing in the Sherlock Holmes series.

SEMPSON, Pedro full name Pedro Sempson Garrido
Born: 6/18/1920, Barcelona, Cataluna, Spain
Died: 5/24/2009, Barcelona, Cataluna, Spain

Pedro Sempson’s Euro-westerns – voice actor:
The Sign of Zorro - 1962 [Spanish voice of Luigi Bonos]
The Sign of the Coyote - 1963 [Spanish voice of Jose Jaspe]
Apache Fury - 1964 [Spanish voice of Silas]
The Last Tomahawk – 1964 [Spanish voice of Carl Lange]
Seven from Texas – 1964 [Spanish voice of Paco Sanz]
For a Few Dollars More – 1965 [Spanish voice of Tomas Blanco]
Kid Rodelo – 1965 [Spanish voice of Richard Carlson]
A Man Called Gringo – 1965 [Spanish voice of Dave]
A Place Called Glory – 1965 [Spanish voice of Aldo Sambrell]
The Colt is My Law – 1966 [Spanish voice of Livio Lorenzon]
Face to Face – 1966 [Spanish voice of Antonio Casas]
God Forgives... I Don't! - 1966 [Spanish voice of Rose's man]
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – 1966 [Spanish voice of Mario Brega]
A Taste for Killing – 1966 [Spanish voice of “Patrick”]
The Ugly Ones – 1966 [Spanish voice of Glenn Foster]]
The Vengeance of Pancho Villa – 1966 [Spanish voice of Villista]
Day of Anger – 1967 [Spanish voice of Ennio Balbo]
Run Man Run – 1967 [Spanish voice of Antonio Casas]
A Taste for Killing – 1967 [Spanish voice of Patrick]
The Vengeance of Pancho Villa – 1967 [Spanish voice of villager]
A Gun for 100 Graves – 1968 [Spanish voice of Calisto Calisti]
The Magnificent Texan – 1968 [Spanish voice of Luis Induni]
Once Upon a Time in the West – 1968 [Spanish voice of Jack Elam and Keenan Wynn]
Death on High Mountain – 1969 [Spanish voice of Keeney]
The Price of Power – 1969 [Spanish voice of Antonio Casas]
Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid – 1969 [Spanish voice of Dan van Husen]
Rebels of Arizona – 1969 [Spanish voice of Jones]
Plomo sobre Dallas – 1970 [Spanish voice of Carpintero]
They Call Me Trinity – 1970 [Spanish voice of ‘Aldeano’]
The Buzzards and Crows Will Dig Your Grave – 1971 [Spanish voice of Raf
Holy Water Joe – 1971 [Spanish voice of Dante Maggio]
Pancho Villa – 1971 [Spanish voice of Eduardo Calvo]
Trinity is Still My Name – 1971 [Spanish voice of Puppo de Luca, Tony Norton
Hendricks, judge]
Call of the Wild – 1972 [Spanish voice of Alf Malland]
Dead Men Ride – 1972 [Spanish voice of Jose Nieto]
Tequila – 1973 [Spanish voice of Mirko Ellis]

New Spagetti Western CD

Japanese release Verita Note #VQCD-10076
Release date May 27, 2009

Track Listing:
1. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Titoli)
2. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (L'attesa)
3. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Nel Covo Di Stengel)
4. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Verso Los Saloe)
5. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Saloon)
6. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Desolazione)
7. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Banjo)
8. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata (Vocal)
9. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Morte Di Stengel)
10. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Auira Banjo)
11. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (L'agguato)
12. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Saloon 2)
13. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (La Vendetta)
14. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Suite 1)
15. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Suite 2)
16. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Suite 3)
17. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso! (Banjo - Single Version)
18. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata (Vocal - Take 1)
19. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata (Vocal - Take 2)
20. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata (Vocal - Take 3)
21. Ehi amico... c'è Sabata (Vocal - In Tedesco)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

A director’s spaghetti western obsession Part 3

Alex Cox on making his own spaghetti western

Just over 20 years ago, sheltering from the sun on the main street of a western set in southern Spain built for a Charles Bronson film, I shot a spaghetti western of my own.
The result, Straight to Hell (1987), is the only western to feature Dennis Hopper, Shane MacGowan and Grace Jones. Despite this, it is not universally acclaimed. What the reasonable, sane, general viewer does not know, but the spaghetti western fanatic will understand, is that Straight to Hell is a homage to the greatest spaghetti western, Giulio Questi’s Django Kill (1967).
The latter is also the most perverse, pessimistic and sinister western of all time. Questi didn’t even like westerns (“the only one I like is the one I made,” he told an interviewer), so, when asked to write a western script immediately and to start shooting the following week, he based his film on his experiences as a teenage partisan, fighting the fascists in the second world war.
These must have been some experiences. In Django Kill, soldiers are massacred by bandits, who then turn on each other with guns. The hero, sometimes called Django, sometimes known as the Stranger, sometimes, oddly, known as Barney, crawls out of his grave and goes in search of the men who shot him. Most of them are already dead, lynched by xenophobic and religious townspeople. They, in turn, are terrorized by a sadistic, white-clad rancher, Sorro, who dresses his “muchachos” all in black, and plays the barrel organ.
This was my inspiration and Tom Richmond, the cinematographer, recreated Questi’s lighting designs – big washes of yellow and blue – in all the night-time sequences. We had a great actor in Biff Yeager, who (I think) gave Django Kill’s Roberto Camardiel a run for his money in the white-suited rancher-villain role. For Sorro’s black-clad muchachos, enter the Pogues, all dressed in mariachi outfits, scoured from the costume houses of Madrid.
Looking back, the results may not be quite of the same Bunuelian standard as Questi’s masterpiece. But, for four weeks on that dusty desert set, we were in Italian western heaven, and that is worth a lot, if you are spaghettily inclined.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Happy 85th Birthday José Manuel Martín

José Manuel Martín was born in Casavieja, Ávila, Castilla y León, Spain on May 24, 1924. He was one of the most active of the Spanish character actors during the height of the Spaghetti western genre and one of the best villains of his era. Seldom did he play on the side of the good but excelled as a villain in almost every role he was given and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Here was an actor, although you knew was a villain, you still admired and loved seeing on the screen. Today we wish José Manuel Martín a happy 85th birthday.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

RIP Alexander Grill

Austrian stage, opera, film and TV actor Alexander Grill died from complications of a stroke on May 22, 2009 in Vienna, Austria, he was 70. Born in Graz, Austria in 1938 and had been active in TV and film since the early 1960s. Grill then turned to the stage and had been a member of the Josefstadt ensemble since 2005. He had appeared on stage and operas in Stuttgart, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt and Vienna. He suffered a stroke on May 16th from which he did not recover. Alexander Grill appeared in the role of Forester in the 1972 Euro-western “Cry of the Black Wolves”.

A director’s spaghetti western obsession Part 2

By Alex Cox

At this stage in my life, I didn’t expect to be a filmmaker. Yet I still learnt by watching these films. I acquired information, a cinematic shorthand, that would be helpful later on. I also learnt the importance of hiring a great designer and, if possible, providing them with a good budget. It seemed to me that Carlo Simi’s sets and costume designs were the most crucial part of the spaghetti western – he came up with Clint Eastwood’s serape, and the long duster coats worn by Henry Fonda and every western bad guy since 1968 – even more so than the violence or the epic performances or Ennio Morricone’s remarkable scores.
Simi designed westerns big and small but for Leone he would build structures with an epic nature that matched the landscape: the ranch house in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), a huge incongruous home in the middle of nothingness; the half-built town of Flagstone, also from that film, a handful of brave buildings beside the railroad in an endless plain, or the Bank of El Paso in For a Few Dollars More (1965), which imitated the chalk-white desert buttes surrounding it.
In the early 1970s, I took the train to Almeria in southern Spain to check out Simi’s structures. These were working film locations – they hadn’t yet become tourist attractions – and I watched from a hill as Ken Russell and his crew filmed exteriors for Valentino on Simi’s “El Paso” set. I camped out in Simi’s ranch house, across the highway from a new “old” town, recently constructed for a Charles Bronson film. I remember thinking that Bronson clearly wasn’t a tall fellow, as all the doors seemed to have been built three-quarter size.
I finally caught up with Django – also designed by Simi – when I was a graduate film student at University of California, Los Angeles in the mid-1970s. The film had a US distributor but a very limited release. As I worked in the film and TV archive, I was able to borrow a print from the distributor and watch it on a flatbed editing machine. Relentless, surrealistically cruel and crazy, it is a film I’ve seen several times; it never disappoints.
Somehow I’d ended up in the critical studies department at UCLA, even though I knew by now I wanted to be in “production”, a different department in the same building, where the students had more access to camera and editing equipment.
So I tried to accelerate my progress through the critical studies course (and thus my departmental switch) by writing my thesis. My subject? The Italian western. Back then, “serious” film academia tended towards something called semiotics and if you wrote a book about anything to do with film you were expected to break the damn thing up into sections and subsections about the various symbols, signs and meanings that other academics had decided were crucial. My attempt at a spaghetti western book, called 10,000 Ways to Die, was overshadowed by all this and didn’t amount to very much. It wasn’t published.
Thirty years on, however, a new version of the book is set for release. It is written as a brief history of the form, with reviews of what I think are interesting or important films, in chronological order. The chronological part was of most interest to me; I also watched the films, as far as I could, in the order in which they were made. In that way, I thought, it would be possible to detect the development of the form. It is a fascinating study in the case of Sergio Leone, whose tale of insecurity and great success unfolds along with his films.
Spaghetti westerns may have become “respectable” now but only Leone is accorded much respect – his DVDs alone are marketed as the “director’s cut”. Leone was the one bad boy allowed into the House of Culture; the door was then closed and the rest of the ragazzi – Corbucci, Damiani, Giulio Questi – remain outside.
Corbucci and Leone were friends, then rivals as well as filmmakers of great influence and significance. Leone’s west was one of uneasy alliances between god-like men – cat-like, innately violent westerners; cold, technological easterners, and Mexican bandits. Corbucci’s west was a world without alliances, in which one man – usually crippled, maimed or blind – was forced to confront two gangs of equal villainy. In Leone’s world, money was always the goal. In Corbucci’s world, money was mentioned, then quickly forgotten in a downward spiral of torture, destruction and loss.
These days, westerns don’t figure much on the horizon, outside the world of DVDs. In Almeria, three of the old sets remain as tourist destinations, paved and featuring faux-western brawls. The Italians don’t make westerns any more, though the French still do, from time to time. And it is one of the laws of Hollywood that every up-and-coming male star will get to make (and possibly direct) at least one western as a vanity project.
Obsessions are interesting things but they don’t last for ever, any more than anything else does. And, after watching so many spaghetti westerns, with the same sets, the same actors, the same repetitious jokes, the same sexism and racism and ennui masquerading as entertainment, I am finally sick of them! Or, at least, I tell myself I am. Just as Corbucci once told reporters he was sick of westerns and would never make another.
But then he got to thinking about a man on a horse against the horizon, and about how fine that looked and, before he knew it, he was back in the desert again.
Alex Cox’s is currently working on ‘Repo Chick’, a sequel to ‘Repo Man’

Friday, May 22, 2009

New DVD Release

Label: VideoAsia, Region Code 1, 3 Discs, 10 films
FLP-90979, Fullscreen/Widescreen, Color, Dolby Digital Stereo
Language: English, Extras: Trailers

Available 5/5/2009

For the first time ever comes the full saga of Sartana. From the first mention of the name in Blood At Sundown to the genre redefining series with Gianni Garko - If You Meet Sartana Pray For Your Death, Have A Good Funeral, My Friend...Sartana Will Pay, Sartana: Angel Of Death, Light The Fuse....Sartana Is Coming.

Also included are some of the numerous spin off films such as I Am Sartana (starring George Hilton), and Price Of Death (with Garko ripping off his own character), Sartana In The Valley Of Death (William Berger) and even the pairing of two popular characters with Django And Sartana's Showdown In The West and Django Vs. Sartana.

So light the fuse and have a good time discovering the spaghetti western legend that will pay for your funeral and be your pallbearer!


Atolladero – International title

A 1994 Spanish, French co-production [fdg (Barcelona), Club D.Investissement Media
Producer: Arturo Duque
Director: Óscar Aibar
Story: Óscar Aibar
Screenplay: Óscar Aibar
Cinematography: Carles Gusi [Eastmancolor, Totalscope]
Music: Javier Navarrete
Song: “Atolladero”, "Black Forgotten Songs" sung by Iggy Pop (James Osterberg Jr)
Running time: 100 minutes

Lennie - Pere Ponce (Pere Alifonso)
Nick - Joaquín Hinojosa (Joaquín Segovia)
Madden - Iggy Pop (James Osterberg Jr)
Sal - Félix Rotaeta (Félix Otegui)
Stampy - Carlos Lucas
Benito - Pep Molina
Vince - Ion Gabella
Indian - Emilio Munoz
Indian girl - Ariadna Gil (Ariadna Giner)
Indian maiden - Cristian Hernandez
Darlene - Mònica Van Campen
colonel - Oriol Tramvia
Billy - Lluis Termes
judge - Xevi Collelmir (Xavier Collelmir)
Hannises - Mercè Pons
Lugareno - Benito Pocino
Vincent - Eulalia Campoy
cowboy #1 - Jordi Bernet
cowboy #2 - Horacio Altuna
ranger #1 - Fredy Fernandez
ranger #2 - José Manuel Salcedo
ranger #3 - Juan Arriazu
Mexican #1 - Luis Alfredo Gomez
Mexican #2 - Juan Hernandez
Mexican #3 - Jesus Jiminez
Antonia - Ana
Dolores - Miriam
Nick as a boy - Jorge Litago
bus driver - José Marin
children on bus - Jessica de Rodrigo, Jenny Larraz, Javier Perez, - Inigo Liorente, Steven Hernandez, Jessica Hernandez., Andrea Soto, David Saso, Jorge Litago, Inaki Gardanchal, Maider de Miguel, Victor Clavero
with: Mario Gas, Gabino Diego, Javier Gurruchaga, Sagario Jiminez, Isabel Silvano, Tomas Saso Clemente, Teodor Roldan, Santiago Garcia, Agustin Goni, Felix Moracho, Antonio Hernandez, José Angel Sanz

A futuristic western set in 2048 where we are told the towns between the major cities have become lawless wastelands. Atolladero is one such hell hole, and is run with ruthless efficiency by the 150 year old "Judge" and his evil henchmen. The Judge's right hand man is Madden, a half Indian psychopath played by punk legend Iggy Pop. Local cop Lenny (Pere Ponce) is one of the few decent men in town. Tired of the corruption and perversion endemic to the area he decides to quit his job, and start a new life in L.A. To do so he must go against the Judge and his nasty cronies as no one leaves Atolladero alive.

You Tube link:

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A director’s spaghetti western obsession Part 1

By Alex Cox

My obsession with the spaghetti western started early. Mostly, I blame my schooling. While it’s thought that girls do better, academically and socially, if educated separately from boys, the awful corollary of this is that boys would be educated separately from girls. And that – as I discovered when attending a single-sex grammar on the Wirral in the mid-1960s, where arbitrary violence and crazed sadists ruled the playground – is a horrible thing.
Had I gone to a mixed-sex school, in a richer, more emotionally balanced environment, maybe I’d have developed a different cinematic outlook, a more nuanced and finely tuned take on things. But things work out the way they do, and my interests as a filmgoer tended towards this mad-boy stuff. Sure, I could appreciate a film such as Tony Richardson’s Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962), with its northern anti-hero who refused to play by the rules. But the world I knew best had more in common with the psychos and testosterone freaks depicted in the new Italian, or spaghetti, westerns that emerged during this period.
By this time, the American western had deteriorated drastically. A once fine and vigorous film genre – a uniquely American art form – was on its last legs. The great American westerns, films such as John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) and Fort Apache (1948), mixed both pessimism and optimism in a heady stew; later, in the 1950s, the form was undercut by “political” westerns such as High Noon (1952), a parable of the McCarthy period starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, and Run of the Arrow (1957), in which the hero was an Irish-Confederate-renegade-Sioux and the villain a US cavalry officer.
Having created its own myth and thoroughly critiqued it, where could the western go from here? Into retreat, it seemed to me as a lad; all I saw at the cinema were ponderous Technicolor bores, usually starring John Wayne and directed by some superannuated Hollywood hack. Wayne, like his master, John Ford, had become both a film director and a political reactionary. Both made films in support of the US war in Vietnam: Wayne’s was a maudlin drama, The Green Berets (1968); Ford’s an unscreenable documentary, Vietnam! Vietnam! (1971). In these men’s minds, defending the Alamo from the Mexicans and rolling back communism in south-east Asia were the same thing. Television westerns were even worse, banal soap operas about patriarchal ranchers and their clans such as Bonanza, The Virginian and The High Chaparral.
Then the Italians rode into town. For them, westerns were a great fantasy world, something they had enjoyed in films or comic books. Yet their take on the Wild West was something quite different. Hollywood had chosen to manufacture a certain type of product, pretending this was what the audience wanted: it was sentimental, propagandistic, authoritarian stuff. The Italian directors made cynical – ironic would be too mild a word – popular action films, sometimes about gladiators, sometimes about spies. All featured the kind of infantile male violence that greatly appealed to teenage boys such as me and my classmates. The fact that the Italian westerns tended to receive an X certificate – and were, therefore, banned to all under 16 – made the thrill even bigger to 13- and 14-year-old boys.
Beyond the violence, the Italian directors shared a sense of radicalism, of anarchy, of a moribund fantasy world being turned on its head to reveal terrible truths, social and political. Francesco Rosi made great political histories, The Mattei Affair (1972) and Lucky Luciano (1973), and Bernardo Bertolucci depicted fascist Italy in The Conformist (1970). Others made the western their political battleground. Damiano Damiani’s Quién Sabe (1966, also known as A Bullet for the General), was a western about covert US intervention in Latin America; Sergio Corbucci turned out a string of tirades against polite society disguised as cowboy films, where priests and pacifists are apt to be shot, or have their ears cut off, as in Django (1965). In The Big Silence (1968), Corbucci presciently depicts a banker as the devil incarnate. And, more than two decades before Stone’s JFK, Sergio Leone’s assistant Tonino Valerii made The Price of Power (1969), a western set in Dallas about a presidential assassination. I was very fond of this stuff though, in general, the critics were not. Many silly column inches were devoted to the notion that there was something “wrong” in Italians even attempting to make westerns.
These strange movies tended to turn up in smaller cinemas, on double bills with Italian action films or melodramas about nuns who were walled up alive in convents. Some didn’t get here at all. Corbucci’s Django, the story of a shell-shocked civil war veteran whose efforts to become an arms dealer end in disaster, was said to have been refused a certificate by the British censor. It was never made clear why, though it might have been something to do with a black-caped Franco Nero machine-gunning hordes of red-hooded Klansmen in a sea of mud.
This was enough to make me thirst for more. As an exchange student in the late 1960s I spent time in Paris, where this and many other interesting films weren’t banned, and pursued obscure Italian westerns from cinema to cinema. I didn’t manage to track down Django while I was there but I saw Carlo Lizzani’s Requiescant (1967), with its deranged priest-killer-hero, and its cameo by Pier Paolo Pasolini as a warrior-priest (the great communist filmmaker was paid in kind, with a Ferrari).
Even the worst of these films had some merit (there was never an entirely bad western, after all). Even the 50 or so super-cheap sequels inspired by Django, often shot in gravel pits outside Rome, might feature a good fight scene, or a bizarre villainous character. And the better ones – shot in the desert of Tabernas, in Almeria, in Guadix or Burgos – had a magnificent visual aspect. Like Ford’s pilgrimages to Monument Valley, these location visits to the wilder and more beautiful parts of Spain gave small stories a giant background. Sergio Leone’s genius was this integration of the massive and the miniature, ideally within a single shot: as in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), when a sweeping tracking shot takes us from a lone gravestone to the revelation of a vast graveyard.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009



A 1985 East German, Romanian co-production [DEFA (E. Berlin), Buftea Film
Producer: Siegfried Kabitzke
Director: Helge Trimpert
Screenplay: Stefan Kolditz, Andreas Scheinert
Cinematography: Peter Brand [color]
Music: Jürgen Kehrt
Running time: 95 minutes

Tom Atkins - Oleg Borisov (Albert Borisov)
Morris - Peter Zimmermann
the old one - Colea Rautu (Colea Rutkobschi)
Rose - Barbara Dittus
Emilie - Margit Bendokat
Clytie - Kerstin Heine
with: Axel Werner, Holger Franke, Peter Heiland, Papil Panduru, Vasile Nitulescu, Sorrin Mocanu, Heinz Hupfer

A western set in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th century. Atkins leaves the city to return to the valley where he formerly lived. There he meets Native Americans who learn to trust him. They ask Atkins to buy weapons for them. On his journey Atkins meets Morris, whose interest in mineral resources puts Atkins loyalty to the Native Americans to the test.

You Tube link:

Happy 75th Birthday Tonino Valerii

Tonino Valerii was born Antonio Valerii on May 20, 1934 in Teramo, Abruzzi, Italy and is a well known Italian film director, best known for his Spaghetti Westerns. Valerii started his film career as an assistant director on Sergio Leone's “A Fistful of Dollars”, before moving on to direct by himself. Among his best known films are “Day of Anger” (1968) “The Price of Power” (1969), “A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die” (1972) and “My Name Is Nobody” (1973). He’s always been left in the shadows of Leone which is unfair as his own westerns can stand on their own with or without Sergios’ assistance. Today we wish him a happy 75th birthday.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New DVD reissue

Kopfgeld Ein Dollar (Navajo Joe), Koch label,
Ratio 2.35:1 anamorphic, widescreen PAL, Languages: German, English, Extras: German trailer, English trailer Featurette “An Indian Named Joe” with Nora Corbucci, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Ruggero Deodato, Featurette: “On Behalf of American Indians” history Antonio Bruchshini, photo gallery, locations now and then, extensive liner notes.
Release date May 29, 2009

How the West was Written by Dario Argento

Leone when I saw A Fistful of Dollars. I saw that it was a great film, but for other critics it was nothing. They don't understand Sergio in Italy; they didn't like him. They started to understand him much later, with his last film - but that was too late. In other countries they got him - the French did - but Italian critics think the French are crazy.

I was a small voice, but he heard me, and we wrote to each other a few times. In 1967, I was writing film reviews for Paesa Sera, a very leftwing newspaper. Then he wanted me to write his film Once Upon a Time in the West. This was incredible. I had not written a screenplay before, but Leone was very smart and would always try new things. He wanted to add a young spirit, which was something I have done, too - on my first film, The Bird With the Crystal Plumage, I used Vittorio Storaro. It was the first time he had done anything so difficult.

I started work on the screenplay at home, with Bernardo Bertolucci. We began with nothing except an idea of Sergio's: he wanted to have a woman as lead for the first time. I would write on my own, then Bernardo would write on his own, then we would write together. Once a week Sergio would come to see how we were getting on, and offer his thoughts. He was incredible at generating ideas. He made me realise the director should always be involved in some way with the screenwriting.

Sergio would discuss, not write. He would describe things very technically: first comes this shot, then the camera goes up, then moves in, and so on. Movies are not two people talking - that is theatre. The movie is the camera. Sergio could judge a script in two minutes: he would flip through it and if he saw lots of dialogue it was no good; if it had lot of descriptions then it was interesting. That is something I learned from him.

Bernardo and I studied many films over three or four months. The one with female leads, like Johnny Guitar, were important. But we were not working on a script: it was a treatment. It was very long, very free, full of ideas, dreams and descriptions. It was full of fantasies. And then Sergio and Sergio Donati turned our work into a screenplay.

I saw the film at a cinema, with an ordinary audience - which is how films should always be seen. It was recognizable from our treatment, but Sergio had added something wonderful.

I continued to write for films, and a couple of years later I wrote The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. I hadn't planned to direct it, but then I thought, "Well, maybe I could." I remember meeting Bernardo at his house. He had just finished writing The Conformist. I had my script with me; he read mine and I read his; we both liked each other's and wished each other luck.

When Once Upon a Time in the West came out in Italy, it was the same as A Fistful of Dollars: it meant nothing to the critics. I found that unbelievable. But the public loved it, they went crazy for it. Sergio had achieved greatness. This film was impossible to better: after this, the western was finished. It's such a nostalgic film, a very sad film. I love how slow it is. How enormous. It will be here forever.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Doc West

A 2008 Italian Television production [DAP, HDM Entertainment, R.T.I. (Rome)]
Producer: Anselmo Parrinelo
Director: Giulio Base, Terence Hill (Mario Girotti)
Story: Marco Tullio Barboni, Marcello Olivieri
Teleplay: Marco Tullio Barboni (Marcotullio Barboni), Luca Biglioni, Marcello Olivieri
English dialogue: Jess Hill
Photography: Massimiliano Trevis [color]
Music: Maurizio De Angelis
Running time: 100min

Doc West - Terence Hill (Mario Girotti)
Sheriff Basehart - Paul Sorvino
Debra “Tricky” Doping - Ornella Muti
Maria - Kisha Sierra
Silver - Benjamin Petry
Burt Baker - Micah Alberti
Jack Baker - Linus Huffman
Victor Baker - Adam Taylor
Nathan Mitchell - Boots Sutherland
Denise Stark - Clare Carey
Hans - Dylan Kenin
Larry - Gianni Biasetti
Gloria - Mercedes Legget
Garvey - Alessio Di Clemente
Garvey henchman - Lance Jensen
Erwin Van Breukelen - Mark Silversten
Johnny “Boy “ O’Leary - Fabrizio Bucci
Scar - R. W. Hampton
Sam - Harry Zimmerman
Elizabeth - Eugeniya Chernyshova
Dana Mitchell - Gisella Marengo
Manuel - Rick Ortega
Grandma Melody - Lois Geary
Xiu - Christina July Kim
Xiu’s brother - Frankey Singvilay
Mr. Shintai - Jimmy Ning
Mrs. Shintai - Sheila Ivy Traister
Estrella - Darrian Chavez
beer delivery man - J. Michael ‘Yak’ Oliva
horseman - Thadd Turner
drunk - Luce Rains
blacksmith’s assistant - Paul J. Porter
injured cowboy - Randall Oliver
boy - T.J. Plunkett
dandy gambler - Christian Margetson
saloon patron - J. Ryan Montenery
Sheriff of Santa Fe - Neil Summers (Nicholas Summers)
Las Alamas townsman - Jack E. Miller
Doc's horse - Casey

"Doc West" could be renamed "Doc Shane." An affectionate homage to the classic American Western, "Doc Shane" is an appealing, good-natured blend of generic elements that should appeal as family fare.

Produced as a miniseries for Italian TV and structured to fit two feature films, "Doc Shane" is truly a pre-"Wild Bunch" yarn. In this "Shane" meets "High Noon" scenario, the gunplay and mayhem are confined to winging gunmen's trigger hands and shooting off rattlers on the attack. As such, it could play as a Hallmark-type feature on U.S. cable, as well.

In this outing, Terence Hill stars as Doc West (the Alan Ladd/Gary Cooper role), the laconic stranger who rides into town and ends up taking on the bad-guy rancher and his black hats. The prototypical reluctant hero, West has a murky past and inner demons to battle. He's a teetotaler with a fast gun and a winning hand. He also has the capacity to cure what ails the townfolk, including the crusty sheriff. Befitting an Italian production, Paul Sorvino plays the town's lawman.

Under the sure hands of directors Guilio Base and Terence Hill, the films canters along at an easy and winning pace. Terence Hill is appealing in his Shane-like performance, while other members of the cast nicely flesh out their generic roles.

Production values, including some daunting skyscapes and mountains (it was shot in New Mexico), reflect the filmmakers' respect for John Ford, particularly cinematographer Massimiliano Trevis for his Monument Valley-like compositions.

Other technical credits are tops, in particular, Maurizio De Angelis' south-of-the-border, trumpet-topped score. - By Duane Byrge

I received a letter from Neil Summers in regards to "Doc West"
"Doc West" came out real well and writers have been hired to script 4 more of them. No start dates yet (later this year). We are supposed to do them in Santa Fe again (not Spain, as was rumored). Suits me fine -- haven't any reason to go back to Spain.

The original two "Doc West" made for Italian TV films are now scheduled for Spetember/October broadcast on RAI-TV.

Hope all is well. Adios for now.
Neil Summers


A galope tendido – Spanish title
At Full Gallop – English title

A 2000 Spanish production [Canal + Espana, Estripe P.C., Televisión Española, Tesela
Producciones Cinematograficas (Madrid)]
Producer: Juan Carlos Rodríguez
Director: Julio Suárez (Julio Suárez Vega)
Story: Julio Suárez Vega
Screenplay: Verónica Fernández, Carlos Morcillo
Cinematography: Juan Carlos Gómez [Eastmancolor]
Music: Pablo Vega
Running time: 87 minutes

Jaime - Aitor Merino (Aitor Unzueta)
Doro - Ana Álvarez (Ana Páez)
Ibarra - Ramón Langa
Sofia - África Gozalbes
Paquita - Kiti Manver (María Vernalte)
Uncle Boni - Sancho Gracia
TV camerman - Alberto Alba
reviewer - Roberto Díaz
journalist - Daniel Díez
employee 1 - Ricardo Jesús García
María José - Rosario Granell
Don Félix - Magín Mayo
Fermin - Juan Carlos Pajares
Don Ramón - Miguel Palenzuela
employee 2 - Jesús Manuel Prieto
engineer 2 - Pedro Francisco Ramos
Willy - José Vicente Rivas
chief engineer - Daniel Rodrigo Rodríguez
employee 3 - Francisco Javier Rodríguez
barman - Alfonso Vallejo
Pepe - Felipe Zapico
with; Juan Carlos Alaiz, Fernando Arias, Fran Asensio, Miguel Baradas, José Luis Díez, Baltazar Fernández, Manuel Fidalgo, Mario Igelsias, Emilio López Castellanos, Nicolás López , Miguel Martínez González, Macrina Morán, José Luis Pajares, José María Peralva, Goyo Rodero, Aitana Rodríguez, Chantal Rodríguez, José María Suárez, Ignacio Sáenz de Pipaon, Javier Torio, Fernando Vega, Eliodoro Villa, Napoleón Álvarez

A man gets an unexpected chance to be the cowboy he's always wanted to be in this drama. Jaime (Aitor Merino) is a young man whose Uncle Boni (Sancho Gracia) was once a film director, making low-budget Westerns in Spain. While Jaime has a job working as a railway clerk, he takes after his uncle in his fascination with the heroic ways of the cowboy. When Jaime's boss Ibarra (Ramon Langa) threatens to close down the railroad office after oil is discovered near the line, Jaime uncovers some dirty dealings on Ibarra's part. Soon he has the opportunity to make like a white-Stetsoned hero as he tries to keep the office open, for the sake of himself and Doro (Ana Álvarez ), a co-worker with whom he's become infatuated. A Galope Tendido was the first feature film from director Julio Suarez. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Happy 70th Birthday Hark Bohm

Hark Bohm was born May 18, 1939 in Othmarschen, Hamburg, Germany. He is a German actor, screenwriter, film director, playwright and former professor for cinema studies. Bohm grew up in Amrum and originally studied law. He became a legal secretary for director Norbert Kueckelmann. He then obtained further experience working for Volker Schloendorff, Alexander Kluge and Rudolf Thomé. He is most noted for his long-time collaboration with Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Bohm was a founding member of the Filmverlag der Autoren and the Hamburg Film Office. He is the brother of the late actor Marquard Bohm. He is the father of actress Lili Bohm, actor David Bohm and the adoptive father of actor Uwe Bohm. He directed his only European western “Chetan the Indian Boy” in 1972 which starred Uwe Bohm. Today we celebrate his 70th birthday

Sunday, May 17, 2009


CANNES -- Things are getting "Ugly" at Film & Music Entertainment.

Dutch director Martin Koolhoven's "The Ugly" is the first in a pair of movies to emerge through deals brokered for the U.K.-based finance and production house via its pact with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.

The uberagency has brokered a deal uniting Mike Downey and Sam Taylor's F&ME and Els Vandevorst's Amsterdam-based Isabella Films for a brace of films to be made during the next two years.

"Ugly," Koolhoven's lighthearted take on the Spaghetti Western genre co-written by the director and Robert Fusco, begins shooting in the spring. The script revolves around a gang of misfit cowboys, led by brothers Red and Bobby, who accidentally steal a side-show freak -- the "ugly" of the title -- and begin showing her around the Wild West for money.

Vandevorst, Downey and Taylor are setting up the project as a Netherlands-U.K.-Spain co-production with a budget of about $6 million.

Fusco is repped by WME; the project was brought to F&ME and Isabella by WME's Adam Novak.

The deal was brokered by WME's Ramses Ishak, Sara Bottfeld and Downey.

New DVD Release

Don’t Turn the Other Cheek
Released by Wild East
Aspect ratio 2.35:1 16x9, 110 minutes
Full uncut version.
Anamorohic, English
Extras: Trailers, Picture Gallery,
Eli Wallach Interview,
alternate credit sequences
Release date 5/19/2009

Spaghetti Collectables

Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western Posters Mug
Featuring the Clint Eastwood film artwork from
A Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Outlaw Josie Wales (?)

All mugs have a stunning glossy finish and are
Dishwasher proof. Order from Helen’s Loft

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Armed Forces Day 2009

New DVD reissue

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment,
NTSC Region 1
Language: Dolby Digital English (mono)
Subtitles: English
Running time: 96 minutes
No extras
Release date May 12, 2009


Asterix in Amerika – German title
Asterix i Amerika – Dannish title
Asterix erobert Amerika – Dutch title
Asterix conquista l’America – Italian title
Astérix et les indiens – French title
Asterix Amerikassa – Finnish title
Asterix kai oi Indianoi – Greek title
Asterix en America – Spanish title
Asterix Conquers America – U.K. title
Asterix in America - English title

A 1994 German, French coproduction [Jurgendfilm-Verleih GmdH (Munich), Fox Pathé
Europa (Paris)]
Producers: Jurgen Wohlrabe, Juergen Polaszek
Director: Gerhard Hahn
Story: Albert Uderzo, Pierre Tchernia
Screenplay: Thomas Platt, Rhett Rooster
Dialogue: Robin Lyons, Andrew Affiler, Bill Speers [English]
Cinematography: Barry Newton, Thorsten Falke [color, Panoramico]
Animation: Andy Knight
Music: Harold Faltermeyer
Running time: 81 minutes

narrator - Harlad Juhnke, John Rye
Asterix, Obelix, Troubadix/Cacafonix, Centurian, Caesar, Ha-Tschi, medicine man, Getafix/Miraculix, Lucullus, Majestix/Vitalstastistix

After another spectacular defeat of a fresh centurion, Caesar sends Lucullus, one of his sycophants, to try to capture Getafix and throw him off the edge of the world (away from prying eyes in case things go badly).

Meanwhile Unhygienix is out of fresh fish (as always) which starts a fight, upsetting the cauldron of magic potion. Since fresh fish is a necessary ingredient Asterix and Obelix go to catch some while Getafix gathers herbs (Obelix sends Dogmatix with him to protect him). In the woods the druid meets Lucullus disguised as another druid, who leads him into a trap.

Lucullus bundles him and Dogmatix onto a Roman galley and heads for the "world's edge". On the way they pass Asterix and Obelix whose fishing is not doing well and Lucullus taunts them. The heroes give chase using Obelix as an outboard motor, but he is diverted by the aroma of food from the passing pirate ship. After a long pursuit, when they've nearly lost hope, a dolphin brings Dogmatix (who Lucullus had dropped overboard) and guides them to the Romans. Seeing the Gauls catching up and land ahead which he feels must be the world's edge, the Roman loads Getafix onto a catapult and flings him "over the edge". The Gauls follow the flying druid while Lucullus turns about for home.

Back at the village Caesar lays siege and waits for the last of the magic potion to run out, much to the centurion's chagrin (since having him attack is the test).

Asterix and Obelix explore the new land looking for Getafix, and find delicious birds they call "gobblers" (turkeys). Asterix is captured while Obelix hunts for breakfast, but instead catches a Native American whom he mistakes for a disguised Roman. When he finds Asterix gone, he has Dogmatix follow his scent. On the way he saves a young Native American girl from being trampled by a stampede of bison.

In the Native American camp Asterix awakes to find himself tied with Getafix to a pole, and the natives becoming restless — particularly the medicine man. Obelix and the girl arrive just in time to save them, and the chief (who turns out to be her father) frees them, but the medicine man is furious, especially after Getafix shows him up in a magic competition. That night he comes to the tipi assigned the visitors and pretends to offer peace, but uses the peace pipe to drug them.

In the morning Obelix is still suffering hallucinations from the drugs and Getafix has been taken prisoner by the medicine man in an attempt to learn the secret of making the magic potion. When he refuses, the medicine man releases a grizzly bear to tear him to bits, but Asterix — guided to the cave by Dogmatix — arrives in time, knocking the bear and villain both out of the picture. Minihooha, the chief's daughter, cures Obelix with a huge meal.

The natives give them a well-provisioned canoe which Obelix paddles tirelessly back across the ocean, but when they arrive back at their village, there are only burnt ruins left. A bound, gagged and forgotten Cacofonix tells them that Caesar has captured the villagers, so Asterix and Obelix — disguised as legionaries — take gourds of fresh potion to their friends imprisoned at the nearby camp of Compendium.

Soon the camp is wrecked, the Romans thumped and life gets back to normal for the gauls. Caesar himself takes the better part of valor and leaves disguised as a wine barrel, but the luckless Lucullus becomes the opportunistic meal of Caesar's pet panther.

You Tube link:

Friday, May 15, 2009

New DVD reissue

A new reissue of Django y Sartana (One Damned Day at Dawn)
on the Llamentol label, Ratio: 4:3, Dolby Digital 2.0 with Spanish
and English languages, running time: 83 minutes, no extras.
Release date 5/11/2009

Remembering James Mason

Born James Neville Mason on May 15, 1909 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, he was a three time Academy Award winning actor. Mason’s distinctive voice and good looks enabled him to play both villains and heroes. He was even under consideration to play James Bond before Sean Connery was cast. He turned down the role of Hugo Drax the villain in “Moonraker” despite his renowned tendency to take any job offered him. Maybe that’s why he accepted the role of Montero in 1971’s “Bad Man’s River”. He never listed this film on his resume and denied he ever made it. Mason died of a heart attack on July 27, 1984 at the age of 75. Today we celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Healthwatch Alessandro Alessandroni

John Mansell has informed me that the legendary composer Alessandro Alessandroni, now 84, is in Africa and is very ill. We all wish his condition improves and he's back on his feet very soon. All of our thoughts and prayers go out to one of the mainstays of the Spaghetti Western. Get well soon!

Rip Charles 'Bud' Tingwell

Australian actor Charles 'Bud' Tingwell has died at the age of 86 in Melbourne after a battle with prostate cancer. Tingwell died in a Melbourne hospital Thursday May 14th.

He began his working life in radio, and went on to pursue a career in theatre, film and television that spanned more than sixty years.

His memorable movies included 'The Shiralee,' 'Evil Angels,' and 'The Castle'. On the small screen, his star role in 'Emergency Ward 10' - shot 'live' in London - was watched nightly by half the UK population.

Away from the spotlight he was also a WW2 veteran, having served as a pilot in the air force, flying over 75 missions.

Charles 'Bud' Tingwell played Premier Graham Berry in the 2001 British/Australian co-production of 'Ned Kelly".

New DVD reissue

A new reissue of Los Amigos (Deaf Smith & Johnny Ears)
on the Llamentol label, Ratio: 4:3 Dolby Digital 2.0 in
Spanish and English languages, running time: 90 minutes,
no extras.
Release date 5/11/2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New DVD reissue

A new reissue of Los violentes de Texas (Aquasanta Joe)
On the Llamentol label, Ratio: 4:3, Dolby Digital 2.0
with Spanish and English languages, running time
95 minutes, no extras.
Release date 5/11/2009

Happy 70th Birthday Harvey Keitel

Academy Award nominated actor Harvey Keitel was born on May 13, 1939 in Brooklyn, New York. He’s known for the tough guy characters he plays in such films as “Reservoir Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Mean Streets” and “Taxi Driver”. Keitel appeared in the 1981 European western “Eagle’s Wing” and also 1998’s “Il Mio West” (Gunslinger’s Revenge). Keitel is married to actress Daphna Kastner and is the father of three children. He has been most recently seen on the ABC TV series “Life on Mars”. Today we wish him a happy 70th birthday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

New DVD reissue

A new reissue of Salario para matar (The Mercenary)
On the Llamentol label., Ratio: 4:3, Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish and English languagees, running time 95
Minutes, no extras.
Release date 5/11/2009

The Arrival of Buffalo Bill in Rome

L’arrivo di Buffalo Bill a Roma – Italian title
The Arrival of Buffalo Bill in Rome – English title

A 1906 Italian production [Albertini & Santoni (Turin)]
Producers: Fileteo Alberini, Dante Santoni
Cinematography: [black & white]
Running time:

Buffalo Bill - William Cody

A film short of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show arriving in Rome.

Monday, May 11, 2009

New DVD reissue

A new reissue of “Las pistolas no discuten”
(Pistols Don’t Argue) by Llamentol, Ratio: 4:3,
Dolby Digital 2.0 with Spanish, English languages
Running time: 92 minutes, No extras.
Release date 5/11/2009

Spaghetti Western Locations

The site of Sad Hill Cemetery is located at Carazo near Salas de los Infantes. It is situated in a cow pasture, but you can still see the remains of the 1000s of graves constructed by the Spanish army. The center ring is grown over so it’s best to drive up the road to the top of the hill overlooking the site. Here you can get a bird’s eye view of the location and how closely it still resembles the original site. The Spanish army brought in dirt from another area to construct the graves and the plant and grass seeds the dirt contained are different then the surrounding soil which now make the graves stand out even more. When I walked the grounds with Don Bruce and Marla Johnson in 2003 and 2005 it was in silence as if we were visiting an actual cemetery. Recently an historical marker has been constructed to commemorate the location. Not easy to locate but one of the highlights of any SW fan’s list of must see locations.

You Tube link:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

RIP Rigo Mora

Nicknamed ‘El Duque’ he was born in Mexico on January 9, 1955, he was co-founder of the special effects Necropia (1985), along with Guillermo del Toro. Necropia is responsible for the special effects in several films, such as Cabeza De Vaca, Dollar Mambo, Mentiras Piadosas, Bandidos, and many more. As member of Necropia, Rigo Mora worked in all the Hora Marcada (TV Series) chapters. Necropia's last work was for the directorial debut in a feature film of Guillermo del Toro, Cronos (1993). Mora also collaborated as an advisor on many animation projects released in his native Guadalajara and in Mexico City, like El Octavo Dia, La Creacion, Sin Sosten and Hasta Los Huesos. Mora directed the animated short films Polifemo and Como Preparar Un Sandwich (This one based upon an original idea by Guillermo del Toro), and the live action short Encrucijada, starring Ignacio Guadalupe and Rodrigo Murray. Rigo Mora died on May 6 of respiratory failure in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. He appeared as the hangman in the 1990 Euro-western Bandidos.

Thanks Mom!


Arrapaho – International title

A 1984 Italian production [Lux International (Rome)]
Producer: Sam Cromwell (Ciro Ippolito)
Director: Sam Cromwell (Ciro Ippolito)
Story: Ciro Ippolito
Screenplay: Silvano Ambrogi Ciro Ippolito, Daniele Pace
Cinematography: Giuseppe Bernadini [Kodakcolor, widescreen]
Music: Totò Savio (Gaetano Savio)
Running time: 98 minutes

narrator - Alfredo Cerruti
Scella Pezzata - Tinì Cansino (Photina Lappa)
Crazy Horse - Armando Marra
Chief Cataloni - Daniele Pace
Doctor Zhivago - Giancarlo Bigazzi
Cefalonia - Toto Savio (Gaetano Savio)
Arrapaho - Urs Althaus
Pierpaolo - Luigi Morra
spectators - Benedetto Casillo, Renato Rutigliano
gay Indian - Max Turilli (Max Tarilli)
orchestra director - Ciro Ippolito
Berta – Marta Rifano
with: Squallor (Alfredo Cerruti, Daniele Pace, Giancarlo Bigazzi, Antonoio Savio), Clara Bindi, Diego Cappuccio, Fiore DeRienzo, Roberta Fregonese, Gregorio Gandolfo, Guendalina Giovannucci, Maurizio Governa, Mario Olivieri, Marta Rifano, Domenico Lamacchia, Giuseppe Antonucci, Laura LaSorella, Prudencia Molero, Nello Pazzafini, Antonio Genca, Primiziano Muratori

Arrapaho is a film from 1984 directed by Ciro Ippolito, inspired by an LP made by thegroup Squalor that came out in 1983. Squalor were involved in the screenplay and appeared in the film as actors. The title of the film and the album was inspired by the Indian tribe of the same name who were a people devoted to trade and nomadic hunting.

Scelli Pezzato, daughter of Cataloni chief of the Indian tribe of Heavy Cefalonia, is betrothed to Crazy Horse, but is in love with Arrapaho, son of the head of the Black Mazza Indian tribe of the Arrapahos, which is itself the subject of the desires of Luna Caprese of Froceyenne. Heavy Ball can not follow the vicissitudes of love because he is busy invoking the gods of rain, to do with the horse Alboreto (a thoroughbred that day after day decreases until reaching the size of a pony), and also facing the problem of births in the village that have fallen to zero.

Scelli and Arrapaho are abducted by Cavallo Pazzo, but thanks to the rescue by Latte Macchiato of Froceyenne tribe and Cornetto Single of Arrapaho tribe are able to flee together. Cavallo Pazzo takes refuge in the arms of Luna Caprese.

The film ends with a performance of 'Aida along the lines of the song that opens the album.

You Tube link:

Happy 60th Birthday Marie France

Born Maria Francisca Serrer Gabaldon on May 10, 1949 in Barcelona, Spain, Marie France spent her early years moving from country to country including Turkey, Italy, Argentina, Chile and Peru. During this time she studied drama, speech and singing. She made her acting debut in Peru in Ganarás el pan. Marie appeared in her only Euro-western in 1965 as Alice Munroe in “The Last Tomahawk” (1964). She returned to Spain in 1967 to live and appear in several television show and as a presenter. She then turned to theater and appeared for a number of years on the Spanish stage. Marie France continues acting today in films, television and theater. Today we celebrate her 60th birthday.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Think Westerns Can't Be French - Au Contraire.

By Robert Silva
Painted deserts, clanging spurs, and smoking barrels create a mystique that has rightfully earned Westerns a global audience. So it shouldn't be too surprising that some of our foreign friends have contributed their own versions of this rustic dreamworld, including, yes, the French. But before you cough up those freedom fries: Relax! From critics like Andre Bazin to future filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard, the French have long been champions of American cinema, from turning John Ford and Howard Hawks into auteurs, to pulling film noir out of the shadows. It's also worth mentioning that the French were hardly sipping cafe au laits and slicing into blocks of Brie while the West was supposedly being "won". French and Indian War ring a bell, anyone?

Read on for a list of French actors who've played it cowboy with aplomb.

1. Joe Hamman
The first Gallic cowboy appeared not long after the inception of film itself. Starting in 1901, French actor Joe Hamman began a long line of "Arizona Bill" movies, and went on to inhabit such roles as "Rancho, un cow boy" and "Bornéo Bill". (You couldn't make this stuff up.) Though few prints survive, the surviving images are rather fun to look at. According to lore, Hamman worked out West as a young man, though the films themselves were shot in suburban Paris - an impressive trompe l'oil, to say the least!

2. Jean-Pierre Léaud
Best known for playing Antoine Doinel in The 400 Blows and its unnumbered sequels, the New Wave icon also played a gunslinger in the absurdist Western A Girl is a Gun, in which Jean-Pierre Leaud starred as a hippie-ish Billy the Kid. Directed by Hollywood deconstructionist Luc Moullet, the film is a low-budget gunslinging tale told by way of Godard, complete with hilarious poorly-dubbed English dialogue.

3. Alain Delon
Delon was (and is) one of France's most celebrated actors. Nevertheless he rode out west as a Cajun cowboy in 1971's Red Sun. Since his most conspicuous films -- Le Cercle Rouge and Purple Noon -- are taut reworkings of American pulp fiction, a take on the cowboy mythos doesn't seem too far off the map. But when you add Charles Bronson, Toshiro Mifune (!), and Swiss sex symbol Ursula Andress to the cross-cultural melange, well, it can make you a little dizzy. (It also conjures images of Red Sun's unholy fusion-cuisine counterpart: foie gras with baked bean sushi, and a dollop of cheese fondue.)

4. Robert Hossein
A writer and director of eclectic tastes, Hossein decided to get in on the Spaghetti Western craze with 1968's The Rope and the Colt. Like Delon, he'd often played roles in French take-offs of American crime stories, including the villain in Jules Dassin's classic Rififi. He began his career as a director in the 1950s, making movies that became well known for their noir shadings and graphic violence. These propensities show through as clear as bloodstains on a white shirt in this sordid frontier tale of murder, rape, and revanche.

5. Vincent Cassel
By the 21st century, it may have seemed as though the French Western had headed off into the sunset. But in 2004, Blueberry (referred to by some critics as a "baguetti Western", har) assembled yet another international cast for fun with horses, revolvers, and peyote. Vincent Cassel headed the group as its beset gunslinger, while Eddie Izzard, Michael Madsen, Juliette Lewis, and, yes, Ernest Borgnine made up the rest of the wild bunch. Shockingly enough, the film never made it to American theaters; it showed up in video stores under the slightly less fruity title, Renegade.

New DVD Release

The Three Musketeers of the West
released by Dorado Films, 1.85:1, anamorphically-enhanced,
widescreen, NTSC, running time: 93 minutes (some scratches,
wear and faded color are evident), Languages English, Italian,
Spanish stereo, extra’s alternative scenes, additional trailers
Available 5/19/2009