Spag | Varied Celluloid

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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Viva Django!

Posted by JoshSamford On July - 10 - 2012

Viva Django! (1968)
Director: Ferdinando Baldi
Writers: Ferdinando Baldi and Franco Rossetti
Starring: Terence Hill, Horst Frank and George Eastman

The Plot: A mysterious gunfighter named Django is employed as a hangman by a crooked political figure in the old west. This evil political figure, named David Barry (played by German actor Horst Frank), is responsible for the deaths of numerous innocent men who are regularly framed and sentenced to hang. This is all a part of one massive goal for David Barry to own all of the land within this small Western town. Django, however, has a secret history with Barry, and he wants revenge against this tyrannical figure. As it turns out, Django isn’t killing the framed men who are placed under his noose. He only makes it appear that they are dying, but in reality he straps a harness to each man before the execution and saves their lives. After rescuing numerous men, Django intends to build his own army so that he can take revenge on Barry. Why so much hatred for this crooked politician? He is the man responsible for the death of Django’s family. Now the old west will run red with blood until Django has his vengeance.

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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.





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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.