Sunday, May 26, 2024

From the WAI! vault


Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ Tino Buazzelli

[These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

Agostino ‘Tino’ Buazzelli was born in Frascati, Lazio, Italy. He was a producer, director, writer, theater, film and TV actor. After obtaining his diploma in education, Buazzelli enrolled at the Accademia d'Arte Drammatica in Rome, graduating in 1946. He made his debut the following year, in the Maltagliati-Gassman stage company. Then he made his film debut in 1948, in Riccardo Freda's “Il cavaliere misterioso”. Buazzelli's major successes are related to his theatre work in notably several stage works played at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan between the 1950s and 1960s, and his performance of Brecht's “Life of Galileo” (1963) is referred to as the peak of his career. Buazzelli had significant television success as Nero Wolfe in a series of television films in which he starred between 1969 and 1971.

Tino was married to actress Ermelina Banfi (1953-1980) and the father of stepdaughter Nicoletta Morini.

He appeared in 46 films between 1948 and 1978 among which was one Euro-western “Il bandolero stanco” in the role of Paco in 1952.

Tino Buazzelli died in Rome on October 20, 1980, of lymphadenitis a month after turning 58.


BUAZZELLI, Tino (Agostino Buazzelli) [9/13/1922, Frascati, Lazio, Italy – 10/20/1980, Rome, Lazio, Italy (lymphadenitis)] – producer, director, writer, theater, film, TV actor, married to actress Ermelina Banfi (1953-1980) father of a stepdaughter Nicoletta Morini.

Il bandolero stanco – 1952 (Paco)

Who Are Those Singers & Musicians? ~ Ramon Mereles

Ramon Mereles remains an enigma. He’s only listed as singing this one song “Ya me voy” on the IMDb and Discogs. I don’t know if he is/was Spanish, Mexican or Argentinian like the composer of the score Luis Bacalov. The song itself seems to be a Mexican standard and sung by many Mexican artists.

Mereles may have been a session singer or the member of an unnamed Mariachi group. The question remains unanswered.

MERELES, Ramon [Spanish] – singer.

A Bullet for the General – 1966 [sings: “Ya me voy”]

Special Birthdays

 Mike Bongiorno (actor) would have been 100 today but died in 2009.

Ulrich Teschner (actor) would have been 85 today but died in 2018.

Olga Bisera (actress) is 80 today.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

From the WAI! vault


Little Known SW Actors Little Known Spaghetti Western Actors ~ Rosolino Bua

These daily posts will cover little known actors or people that have appeared in more recent films and TV series. Various degrees of information that I was able to find will be given and anything that you can add would be appreciated.]

Rosolino Bua was born on March 3, 1901, in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. He started his career in silent films at the young age of 17 in 1918’s “La reginetta Isotta”. He then turned to the stage in Ermete Zacconi's company, to which he remained loyal after moving to Rome; after the Second World War, however, he also starred in some films again. In addition to the works of director Pino Mercanti, he worked under Pietro Germi and Luchino Visconti, among others.

Among his best-known theatre appearances are his own play “Re Messia” in 1949, in which he also directed; Pirandello's “La giara” under Accursio Di Leo. With television appearances and dubbing work, the slim, distinguished actor completed his fields of work. His final role was as Santi Di Mauro in 1972’s TV miniseries “Il marchese di Roccaverdina”.

His only Spaghetti western was as a stagecoach passenger in 1966’s “Uno straniero a Paso Bravo” (A Stranger in Paso Bravo).

Bua died in Rome on February 8, 1979, a few days short of turning 78.

BUA, Rosolino [3/3/1901, Palermo, Sicily, Italy – 2/28/1979, Rome, Lazio, Italy] – film, TV, voice actor.

A Stranger in Paso Bravo – 1966 (stagecoach passenger with a goose)

[Thanks to Michael Ferguson for the screen grab]

Desi Arnaz, Jr. Talks About Billy Two Hats

Desi Two Hats … Or Making a Matzo Western with Gregory Peck

By Henry C. Parke

“I grew up at the Del Mar racetrack. Well, I grew up on a farm. When my parents were married, they had a farm out in Chatsworth. That’s where the name Desilu comes from: it was the name of their farm. When my parents got divorced, my father bought a thoroughbred breeding farm out in Corona, near Riverside. So, I started riding when I was really young, like the warm-up horses at the racetrack. And I had a horse when I was growing up. I watched TV Westerns just like everybody else: Bonanza; The Rifleman. Westerns were my favorite things to watch. Still are as a matter of fact.” Desi Arnaz Jr.’s favorite Western movie? “Rio Bravo.”

Arnaz Jr. was a polished actor at a young age, guesting on various TV series, having increasingly larger roles in movies and TV movies, and co-starring for three seasons with his mother, Lucille Ball, and sister, Lucie Arnaz, on Here’s Lucy. That was actually as close as he’d gotten to a Western. “We did a show with Wayne Newton about riding dressage. He has Arabian horses. We did like a musical Western,” he recalls with a laugh. “Just gonna get up on my horse and sing a song.”

With Arnaz Jr.’s love of the genre, the prospect of doing the real thing had great appeal. “[Producer/director] Norman Jewison called me in to talk about my playing Billy Two Hats.” The story was about an older Scotsman bank robber and his accomplice, a half-Kiowa, half-white teenager.  “I’d done Red Sky at Morning,” for which he’d won a Golden Globe as Most Promising Newcomer for 1972. “I played a Greek Mexican; my name was Steenie Stenopolous, a half-breed, mixed race, and he was friends with the main character, which Richard Thomas played. That was another great experience and kind of a Western; there were horses in it, and cows. It’s about kids growing up in the ’40s in Santa Fe. [Jewison] goes, ‘I thought you did a really good job. But I’m kind of wanting to get a real Indian.’ So, he didn’t cast me. Six months pass, I’m in New York, he calls me, says ‘I’d like to see you again.’ It’s at the Russian Tea Room, and now he’s got director Ted Kotcheff along.” Like Jewison, Kotcheff, who would direct Billy, is a Canadian who came out of directing live TV for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. “He did [The Apprenticeship of] Duddy Kravitz around the same time; later he did First Blood, North Dallas 40. He did a lot. Norman said, ‘I saw a lot of people, and I found my Indian,’ meaning me.

“I was very excited. It was a great role. Billy was the quiet man, you know? When he spoke, he had something to say.” Without a moment’s hesitation, Arnaz Jr. runs nearly all of his dialogue from the film, both the English and the Apache—he plays a half-Kiowa, but he’s confronted by Apache. “‘Where I got the name Billy Two Hats was my father had two hats, one for special, one for ordinary. That impressed my mother. And at the time, it impressed me.’ I don’t know if you remember that line. I remember all the lines,” he recalls with a laugh, “because I only had like 20 lines. It’s a very unusual movie, way ahead of its time. The guy who wrote it, Alan Sharp, also wrote a movie called The Hired Hand, and Ulzana’s Raid. He wrote real down-to-earth, contemporary [stories], but with all the trimmings of a Western.”

While not the same mix of races as his character, “My father’s very Hispanic, and my mother’s very Irish. It’s kind of a strange combination. The Hispanic Cubans come from Spain and Portugal. The [native] Cubans were Seminoles and Arawaks, American Indians.”

Then Jewison had another surprise: “We’re gonna shoot in Israel.”

“We’re gonna do what? It was the most unbelievable experience of my life, as far as being in a place at a certain time. Norman Jewison was shooting Jesus Christ Superstar at the same time,” as director and producer, while he was producing Billy Two Hats in the same locale, essentially piggybacking a modestly budgeted Western onto a big-budget musical. “We lived in Tel Aviv. Israel reminds you of the Old West, so it was perfect. There was an actual town somewhere outside of Tel Aviv, built for the film. We shot there, then in Ashkelon, Sheba, Eilat, in a place called the Valley of the Moon by the Red Sea, which looked like the Grand Canyon.

“So, I’m in Israel with Norman, and Gregory Peck, the great Jack Warden, one of the nicest people, one of the greatest actors I’ve ever met, and he played the villain. David Huddleston. Sian Barbara Allen was the girl. We were shooting it in Israel between wars. The sets were heavily guarded, the Phantom F-4s flying overhead, tanks rolling by, but they weren’t shooting at anybody. I’m 19 years old; it’s like I went off to war. It felt like it was a movie in itself; it’s the only way I can explain it. There were armed guards on the set, Bedouin guards; there were kidnapping threats, and not just me, but everybody. Now the Bedouins, remember Lawrence of Arabia? They’re not Israeli, they’re not Arabian; they’re Arabian descent, but they don’t have a country. They’re nomads. We’d be in the Valley of the Moon, having lunch under a tent with the Bedouins. And out of the desert would come Teddy Neely [dressed as Jesus] and Carl Anderson, who played Judas, and Zero Mostel’s son, Josh as King Herod. And we’d all have lunch together in the desert. I go like, ‘Hi, Jesus.’ I tell you, they were really into it. We also lived in the same hotel, so we would all meet at the hotel bar, with David Janssen, who was over there doing an Israeli war movie.”

Billy Two Hats is not about hardened criminals. “They steal some money; they kill a guy by accident. [Gregory’s] an old Scottish man who’s longing to see some green. He doesn’t want to be an outlaw. Billy doesn’t want to be an outlaw. They fell into bad times; they’re not mean. They’re not cruel. But then you’ve got your Jack Warden sheriff, who’s the mean cruel bigot.”

“Gregory was very quiet, but he had a great sense of humor, and most of my scenes were with him. Except for the opening and closing and the love story. He never said anything to me as far as what I was doing with Billy, but he was very supportive.”

Besides Dawn Little Sky, who plays David Huddleston’s wife, there were four major Indian roles. “They were the bad Indians, scavengers. There was Zeev Berlinsky, an Israeli, Scott Anthony, who I think was half Indian (Note: Actually, he was a black Englishman). Vincent St. Cyr and Henry Medicine Hat, my Indian friends, play two of the Apache. They were kind of rabble-rousers; didn’t like playing drunk Indians, and they got cast playing that a lot. When they meet up with Billy, I get to speak Apache in that scene. And I remember to this day. ‘We are going far to the north, but I have a gun under my hat. And today you will die,’” he concludes with a laugh.

“It was a big horse-riding movie. I had an unbelievably great horse. He was a chestnut with a white face. And he had to pull that travois with Gregory actually on it. And it took an amazing amount of courage because we had to run fast. A lot of chase scenes, and I got to do all my own riding.”

“Interestingly enough, we almost shot the movie in sequence, which is unbelievable in this day and age. The first thing we shot was the opening, then Gregory and me going through the desert to David Huddleston’s trading post. Then the homestead with the girl, then the chase through the desert. I remember the last shot that I did was on a horse; it was sunset, and I was riding with the travois. We had to loop a lot of the movie in London, because of the Phantom F-4s flying overhead.”

His favorite memories? “I liked everything about the movie. I can’t say that scene was so great, or this scene was better. There was stuff that was very heartwarming, and that was very shocking. I think just being in Israel was my favorite part of doing Billy Two Hats, to tell you the truth, because it kind of mirrored, reflected what the movie was about. At the time that I did Billy Two Hats, I was studying spiritual development, and there were things going on inside of me that were very powerful. And being in Israel brought those things to the surface. It was a very cathartic experience for me, in a good way.”


About Henry C. Parke

Henry’s new book, The Greatest Westerns Ever Made, and the People Who Made Them, published by TwoDot, is now available. The Brooklyn-born, L.A.-based writer has contributed articles to the INSP blog since 2016, been Film Editor for True West since 2015, and has written Henry’s “Western Round-up,” the online report on Western film production, since 2010. His screenwriting credits include Speedtrap (1977) and Double Cross (1994). He’s the first writer welcomed into the Western Writers of America for his work in electronic media. He’s done audio commentary on nearly 30 Spaghetti and domestic Westerns.