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Navajo Joe

Posted by JoshSamford On August - 13 - 2012

Navajo Joe (1966)
Director: Sergio Corbucci
Writers: Fernando Di Leo, Ugo Pirro, and Piero Regnoli
Starring: Burt Reynolds, Aldo Sambrell and Nicoletta Machiavelli

The Plot: Duncan is a ruthless monster who has been working in-between the law for years. He was originally tasked with hunting down Natives who were considered to be outlaws, but eventually his ire was drawn towards any Native American village that he crossed. After ruthlessly massacring another group of Native Americans, Duncan heads into town with the goal of selling off their scalps. However, he finds opposition with the city council who no longer want Duncan’s help. After bullying the citizenry for a bit, Duncan is presented a much more interesting opportunity. A man named Lynne sells out the mayor of his neighboring town and tells Duncan of a train which is supposed to be bringing a substantial grant for this neighboring city. Joe (Burt Reynolds), a very tough Native who has been watching Duncan, quickly catches up with a group of prostitutes who have heard the details behind Lynne and Duncan’s plan. However, will Joe do what is right or is he only out to line his own pockets?

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Django Strikes Again

Posted by JoshSamford On June - 20 - 2012

Django Strikes Again (1987)
Director: Nello Rossati
Writers: Sergio Corbucci, Franco Reggiani, and Nello Rossati
Starring: Franco Nero, Christopher Connelly, Licinia Lentini, and Donald Pleasance

The Plot: Deep in the heart of Columbia, our film introduces us to a very familiar monk. This monk is a man with a very dark past who desperately searches for retribution after a lifetime of killing. This man is the infamous gunslinger known as Django. Taking place twenty years after the original titular film Django, we find that our leading man has separated himself from all forms of violence and looks forward to a very simple life. However, Django is soon visited by a woman from his past who claims that she is dying. She asks that Django visit her daughter and look after her, but Django refuses because he feels that he has finally found his calling. The woman soon advises Django that the young girl is his very own daughter, and with that our hero is off to meet his only known relative. When he finds the town where she was supposed to live, however, he discovers that it has been destroyed. Most in this town are now dead, but the few who survived have been taken hostage by the homicidal Hungarian aristocrat Orlowsky (played by Christopher Connelly). Django is soon captured by Orlowsky’s men as well, but quickly manages to escape his prison with some help from a man named Ben (Donal Pleasance). With vengeance on his mind, Django soon digs up his machinegun and decides to take on this European tyrant with every fiber of his being.

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Pistol for Ringo, A

Posted by JoshSamford On June - 5 - 2012

A Pistol for Ringo (1965)
Director: Duccio Tessari
Writers: Alfonso Balcázar and Duccio Tessari
Starring: Giuliano Gemma, Fernando Sancho, and George Martin

The Plot: A Pistol for Ringo tells the story of a young sheriff named Ben (George Martin) who begins his day by arresting a young man named Ringo (Giuliano Gemma), also known as Angel Face, who has killed four men in self defense. This isn’t anything new for Ringo, however, because he has been in front of the judge numerous times for similar incidents. Later, we are introduced to a lunatic bandit known as Sancho (Fernando Sancho) who pulls off an elaborate heist that sees him and his gang robbing the local bank of everything that they have. As Sancho and his crew try to get away, they wind up at the home of a wealthy land-owner who also happens to be the father of Sherriff Ben’s current love interest. Knowing that she will die, along with all of the other innocent hostages, if the Sheriff comes running in to save the day, he concocts another plan. He inevitably promises Ringo 30% of the bank robbery money, and without delay Ringo is undercover inside of the villa where these bandits are hiding out. Will Ringo settle for the 30%, or will he attempt to play for the bad guys in an attempt to get a larger percentage?

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Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End!

Posted by JoshSamford On September - 22 - 2010
The Plot: Burt Kelly (Gordon Mitchell) is a maniac outlaw with no firm grasp on reality. While looking to cross the border and escape the law, he decides to kidnap a rich landowners daughter in attempt to keep her as a bargaining chip. This escalates the already high bounty on Kelly’s head and this draws the bounty killer Django into the equation as he now has Kelly in his sites. Sartana, who is acting as a vigilante, already has Kelly on his hitlist and Burt already knows this. So he tries to eliminate Sartana unsuccessfully but this ultimately draws both Django and Sartana to the same side of the coin as both men set out to put an end to the psychotic reign of Black Burt Kelly once and for all!

The Review
Although slightly classier than most other Italian genre films that had their swing in popularity throughout the better half of the sixties and seventies, the Spaghetti Western is not without its moments of exploitation and ridiculousness. Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End! is a prime example of this exploitative element. Similar to the genre of Brucesploitation (see: Dragon Lives Again, Goodbye Bruce Lee or Bruce Lee Fights Back From the Grave) this film shows that same “Let’s do anything for a buck!” mentality that can be found in almost any subgenre of exploitation cinema. For those who don’t follow, if you’re expecting to see Franco Nero back in his role as Django or Gianni Garko reprise his role as Sartana… you are going to be sorely let down. Going into this movie, I knew what to expect of course but it is still somewhat surprising to see an unofficial title being so brazen about their stealing of these characters. Even within the brucesploitation realm it is often tricky to find a movie that actually has a character playing the role of Bruce Lee himself if it is not a historical piece of some sort. So, with the filmmakers obviously going so over the top as to hijack these characters you can probably expect a raucous and wild piece of exploitation in the old west, correct? Well, let me just spoil the entire review for you right now as the answer to that question is a definitive and painstakingly dull: NO. It is unfortunate that the filmmakers could steal so much but completely lose sight of what makes any western remotely fun.

I don’t want to give you the wrong impression, from a technical standpoint Django and Sartana… is not a terrible piece of genre filmmaking. The overall look of the movie is actually quite nice. I can say whatever I want about the project on the whole, but it most certainly deviates from genre in the way that it actually looks. Having more in common with a John Ford western than something from Sergio Leone, the movie has a slightly traditional look to it. The costumes are slightly campy, the desert is shown as being very dry and the characters aren’t quite as dingy and beat up as you would normally expect from a Spaghetti Western. There is also a highly well made score to go along with the interesting visuals. Coriolano Gori, who had worked many times within the genre, crafts what is possibly the best score that I have personally heard from him. Mind you I have only seen a few of the MANY titles that he is credited as composer. The score really invokes a lot of Morricone in it, which is never a bad thing! The filmmakers even ran with this Morricone idea and essentially duplicated the opening animation for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly while highlighting how great this score is. The movie opens up with this and although it seems like it is in bad taste to rip off Leone in such a fashion, I still gave the film the benefit of a doubt after how tremendous the music was and how much I found myself enjoying it. Then the boredom inevitably set in and absolutely ruined everything for me.

Dick Spitfire is credited as the director of this film, which would be a fantastic name for a Gonnoreah suffering superhero. In reality it is the alias for one Diego Spataro who would later go by this alias on the project Go Away! Trinity Has Arrived in Eldorado!. According to the IMDB however, the film was directed by Spataro alongside veteran director Demofilo Fidani. Fidani has a bit of a reputation as one of the worst Spaghetti Western directors to make it. I am not familiar with his work to be honest, but Django and Sartana… certainly seems in keeping with everything that I have read. It is derivative, old hat and lacks any new or interesting concepts in order to keep the audiences attention. The absolute worst part is that this movie is just boring for its lack of direction or decent pacing. Nearly falling asleep while watching, I had to split up my viewings in order to stay awake. For a mere ninety minute film, this movie has more padding than a Orthopedic mattress. There is actually a five minute poker sequence in this movie that will boggle your mind if you ever have the misfortune to see it. Five minutes are literally wasted as we watch the back and forth of one of our heroes simply losing all of his money to a group of gambling cheats. Hands are dealt, wagers are called and the audience falls asleep. The only break we get from this tension-sucking whirlpool of boredom is a shot of a man riding in on a horse that goes on for an equally absurd amount of time. Speaking on the issue of horse riding, if there were a drinking game for Django and Sartana… it would be for every time someone rides horseback while the music swells around them. Going back to this poker game, the whole ordeal ultimately ends with our hero gunning down these cheats after losing yet another hand. This was another odd break from convention, but not necessarily a welcome one, as neither Django or Sartana come off as being particularly tough throughout this entire film. When it comes to fist fights, over and over again each man is beaten and bloodied. The superhero mentality is completely abandoned in this film as you actually never EXPECT these guys to win a fight.

The best part about the entire project may be the films title. Django and Sartana Are Coming… It’s the End!, that is a classic title! The other alias it often goes by is Django and Sartana: Showdown in the West which I am equally as big a fan of! Those are great titles, but unfortunately there is no showdown and you simply end up praying for the end. Wow, harsh much? Perhaps. This project certainly doesn’t deserve absolute venom, even though I have been relatively hard on it up until this point. Gordon Mitchell, who plays the lead villain Burt Kelly (often attributed as “Burt Keller”, I’m pretty confident that his name is written as Burt Kelly in the film), is really fantastic in his role and truly delivers the goods. His character is essentially the western version of The Joker, maniacal and psychotic with a penchant for chaos. There is a great moment in the film where Mitchell is actually playing poker with himself in the mirror and his growing anger is actually quite funny. Gordon Mitchell, Jack Betts (Sartana here) and Demofilo Fidani made quite a few pictures together with Betts and Mitchell at other ends of the good guy/bad guy spectrum, and if I didn’t fear that these movies would be so dreadfully boring I would actually search them out simply to see what Mitchell could deliver.

The Trivia
  • One of only two projects directed by Diego Spataro. He spent the majority of his career in various other positions from Production Assistant to Producer.

  • Photographed by an up and coming Joe D’Amato.

  • The Conclusion
    Django and Sartana.. is at best a very average movie and at worst a terror to have to sit through. It looks good enough, has a great score and features at least one very interesting performance. With those positives in mind, I give it a two rating. It came terribly close to garnering a one, but you know what this one doesn’t really do a whole lot to make itself that bad. It’s just unfortunately a very boring movie that probably encapsulates everything that outsiders generally hate about the western genre. I would say only check this one out if you’re a Fidani fan (hey, Bruno Mattei and Joe D’Amato have fans right?) or you’re simply a spaghetti western completest.

    Get Mean

    Posted by JoshSamford On February - 16 - 2010
    The Plot: Tony Anthony plays The Stranger, a drifting cowboy who finds himself wandering from one adventure to the next in this classic Spaghetti Western series. After literally being dragged into a town by his own horse, he stumbles into a saloon that is being looked over by a gypsy family. They beg The Stranger to help their daughter, who is a Princess, as she makes her journey across the ocean back home to Spain in order to claim her kingdom. The Stranger, ever the opportunist, asks for a lump sum of $50k dollars and they reluctantly agree. The Stranger and the princess make it across the ocean, but once on her old stomping grounds it becomes apparent that things have changed quite a bit. Their family’s enemy The Barbarians now control a great deal of the countryside, the two of them are ambushed and the princess is taken by the Barbarians and to top things off the princess’ father is dying. The Stranger, despite losing The Princess to the hands of her mortal enemy, still simply wants his money – but for him to get that he’ll have to help the Princess find an ancient stash of gold. So now The Stranger will have to sneak into Diego’s (the Barbarian King) palace, save the Princess and then have her lead him to the treasure. However, as you may can guess, things can never be so simple!

    The Review
    Ferdinando Baldi is a filmmaker I am fairly familiar with. Although he first made his name with sword & sandal movies in the early sixties, his best known works here in North America would probably be his Westerns. Films such as Viva Django! and Texas, Addio helped cement him in the minds of Eurocult fans the world over. However, his pairing with actor Tony Anthony also proved to be quite fruitful as he would go on to direct some popular movies, some written by Anthony himself, as well as help kickstart the popularity of 3D movies during the 1980s. Get Mean falls right between the most critically successful of the Anthony/Baldi partnership, a film called Blindman, and then what I have to assume would be their highest monetarily successful film, Comin’ At Ya which was a 3D western that helped reboot the dead technique in the 1980’s. Get Mean is actually the fourth film in Tony Anthony’s The Stranger series and it has to be the weirdest of the group. Setting the stage for the film in Europe, while actually shooting in Europe, tends to be an area of some controversy amongst Spaghetti Western purists. Although I am a Spaghetti Western fan, I suppose I’m not obsessed enough to be bothered by the issue because I actually think it’s a great idea and a novel concept amongst these films. However, I think what generally rubs most viewers the wrong way about this one, aside from it’s location and historical inaccuracies, is the general strangeness of the film. A cowboy taking on strange Barbarian clans, thinly drawn caricatures of them at that, you can get more than a little perplexed while delving into this one. It’s reminiscent of older martial arts film fare, because the foreign characters tend to be quite outlandish. Unfortunately, with this one we don’t get any Japanese ninjas. A mistake on the part of the filmmakers if ever there was one!

    Get Mean starts off in such a drastically different direction than which the film ultimately ends up going. Although it’s slightly humorous that The Stranger is actually dragged into town, by his own horse, the scene doesn’t really play out for laughs. After the horse eventually drops him off, he enters into the bar where he meets the gypsy family (as mentioned in the plot synopsis) – but everything seems so dark and foreboding. There is a really excellent shot in this first section that kind of initiates this mood, where it shows The Stranger reflected in silhouette as he opens the swinging doors to the saloon, but this shot in turn is revealed as simply a reflection from a Crystal Ball. The lighting and the idea both work to an incredible degree and sell you on the atmosphere of this possibly being a moody and artistic western. However, these illusions are soon shattered by the dialogue alone. Get Mean is a comedic western, not totally unlike the kind that Terrence Hill made famous with his Trinity series, but only slightly less broad. Where Terrence Hill often played the comedy up in his films to the point where it resembled the work of Benny Hill, Get Mean shows slightly more tact in my opinion. Granted, My Name is Trinity would undoubtedly be the better movie in comparison, I just think that the comedy here is slightly less in your face and in that regard it works better for me as a fan of more traditional Spaghetti Westerns. Do not get me wrong though, Get Mean is still pretty broad and low brow in its comedic fare but ultimately what I’m getting at is it is a lesser of two evils. It’s hard to say this isn’t broad, when you’ve got Tony Anthony tied to a spit and ready for barbecue with an apple in his mouth! I’d also be a hypocrite if I didn’t mention the slightly annoying banjo music that plays throughout, as I couldn’t help but get a rather Benny Hill vibe from it!

    Tony Anthony generally doesn’t seem to get the respect that other greats of the genre seem to receive, and the reason for this tends to allude me. It could be his distinctly American delivery, which doesn’t come from a gristle-bearing pair of clenched teeth like a Clint Eastwood nor a happy go lucky younger kid voice like the one that Hill was often saddled with. He delivers something completely different from the rest of the Spaghetti Western genre greats, but I’ve found that I like what he does. Nobody delivers a one-liner like this guy does and Get Mean really puts this quality on display. I think my favorite line of the movie really shows how good the man was. In the written form, “Listen. Business is business, and I happen to be a business man” comes across as completely redundant and more than a little silly, but Tony Anthony’s inflections on the words give it a slightly quizzical feel and it causes you to pause and re-evaluate the words. He takes something that should have seemed ridiculous, but instead makes it seem just a tad bit off. When you recognize this, you start to think about it and before long it’s stuck in your head. I like this about Anthony and he delivers through the whole movie, one liner after one liner. It gets ridiculous how many funny bits he throws out there. “Oh dear god they got some ugly lookin’ women in this country” and “Little sister, you are going to find out that I am the biggest god damn liar you have ever met!” are two other really amazing and star-creating lines thrown out there from Mr. Anthony and if you weren’t sold on the film by this point, then I don’t know what I can do for you.

    The cast aren’t universally great or anything like that. David Dryer’s henchman character is patently offensive as a blatant and effeminate homosexual. Lloyd Batista as Sambra/Richard is inspired, as his villain character might have the most going on for him dimensionally. Sambra is a Shakespeare junkie and often recites lines of dialogue from his plays and thus The Stranger takes to calling him Richard, after Richard III. The back and forth that these two have is one of the better pieces of character action that the film has going for it. The “main” villain Diego, played by Raf Baldassarre however is generally pretty plain. He makes up for this fact by screaming for the majority of the picture – or at least in every single scene he takes part in. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Diana Lorys as Princess Elizabeth Maria. Although she doesn’t do much, she is a stunning woman and is saucy onscreen. With all of that said, this isn’t a character study. It’s an action movie. So action, is what it delivers. There are a lot of gunfights throughout and the explosions are massive in the final act, to the point that you wonder just what kind of a budget this movie had. There’s a brilliant shot in the final minutes where The Stranger stands with seemingly an entire fort exploding behind him as he coolly walks toward the camera. It’s a make or break moment and Tony Anthony sells it to perfection without so much as a flinch. The movie is a mix of varying elements that seem like they should represent a disjointed and ridiculous movie, but for some reason it really works for me!

    The Trivia
  • David Dryer, who plays the homosexual right hand man of Diego’s – is actually writer/star Tony Anthony’s brother

  • The forth and only film in The Stranger series not directed by Luigi Vanzi.

  • The film’s historical context is illogical, as groups like The Moors (depicted in the film) were vanquished hundreds of years before America had been discovered.

  • The Conclusion
    It’s not a perfect movie by any chance. It is incredibly weird. There are so many odd elements throughout. There’s some strange supernatural things that happen in the final half, where for some reason or another The Stranger’s body is being taken over by spirits and they cause him to howl like a wolf! There’s a moment of black-face comedy like that of a minstrel show and it’s really hard for some people to get over the fact that we’re watching a cowboy duel with Barbarians. As much as I should probably take the high road and call Get Mean dumb and lacking in any intelligent thought – I can’t help but like this movie. I think for every “what the?” moment that there is in the movie, there’s an equally funny sequence that seems intentional and genuinely witty. The mix of elements worked for me as a viewer, but I suspect others might walk away puzzled. I give it a three out of five, but this one is dangerously close to a four. Check it out if you can get your hands on it!




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    Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.