Also known as: The Silent Flute (working title) Release Date: July 25th, 1978 (France) Directed by: Richard Moore Written by: Bruce Lee, James Coburn, Stirling Silliphant, Stanley Mann Music by: Bruce Smeaton Cast: David Carradine, Christopher Lee, Jeff Cooper, Roddy McDowall, Eli Wallach, Anthony De Longis, Earl Maynard, Erica Creer
Sandy Howard/Richard St. Johns Productions, AVCO Embassy Pictures, 102 Minutes
“Tie two birds together. Even though they have four wings they cannot fly.” – Blind Man
The concept and story for this film were developed by the legendary Bruce Lee and he was even slated to star in it but, as we all know, he died really young and with that he never got to see this go into production.
A few years after Lee’s death, however, this project got the green light and David Carradine was given the multiple roles that would’ve gone to Lee. What’s strange about that is Carradine was also given the main role in the television series Kung Fu, which Lee said was a role that was also originally meant for him.
This movie also has several legendary actors in minor roles. We see Christopher Lee, Roddy McDowall and Eli Wallach all pop up for different sequences. And honestly, all of them took this really seriously and gave solid performances.
The lead actor was the only really unknown to me but he was good with the material, believable as a hero and you bought into his arduous and challenging journey, which was more about self discovery than what he thought it was about upon starting the journey.
One thing I personally dig about this is that it’s a martial arts flick but it has more of a sword and sorcery aesthetic to it. Granted, there aren’t buff dudes with swords, it’s just a really cut, physically fit guy using his kung fu to conquer his challenges.
Being that this was Bruce Lee’s concept also means that it is much more philosophical than your standard beat’em up movie. It probably isn’t as philosophical as what Lee would’ve done had he been alive to make this but his spirit still exists in this and is weaved into every important scene.
This film surprised me. I figured that I would enjoy it but it definitely exceeded the expectations I had for it and I’d now rank it pretty high up on my list of favorite David Carradine movies.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: other martial arts flicks of the ’70s and ’80s, as well as sword and sorcery pictures of the same era.
Also known as: Hexensabbat (Germany), De Watcher (Netherlands) Release Date: January 7th, 1977 (New York City premiere) Directed by: Michael Winner Written by: Jeffrey Konvitz, Michael Winner Based on:The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz Music by: Gil Melle Cast: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Arthur Kennedy, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Deborah Raffin, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D’Angelo, Hank Garrett, Nana Visitor (as Nana Tucker), Tom Berenger, William Hickey, Jeff Goldblum
“It’s all right. Listen, listen. I know everything now. The Latin you saw in that book was an ancient warning from the angel Gabriel to the angel Uriel.” – Michael Lerman
The Sentinel came out in a decade that was packed full of religious themed horror movies after the successes that were 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby and 1973’s The Exorcist. So it’s easy to see why it may have gotten lost in the shuffle. However, in my opinion, it is one of the better ones out there.
The film also has a really great cast, even if most of the parts are fairly small, except for the two leads: Cristina Raines and Chris Sarandon. Sprinkled throughout though are Martin Balsam, John Carradine, José Ferrer, Ava Gardner, Burgess Meredith, Sylvia Miles, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Jerry Orbach, Beverly D’Angelo, Nana Visitor (of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Tom Berenger, William Hickey and Jeff Goldblum. Needless to say, there’s a lot of great talent here and the film truly benefits from it, as just about every scene includes someone of note and none of them are simply dialing in their performance.
The plot revolves around a young woman with a pretty screwed up past, wanting to live on her own for awhile. She moves into an old building near the water in New York City. However, the attic apartment has an old blind priest that just sits in the window 24/7. The place is also full of bizarre residents and as the film rolls on, we come to learn that these people are ghosts. We also learn that the building is a gateway to Hell and the old priest sits there to keep the evil from escaping the walls of the house.
The story almost feels like it’s ripped from a ’70s Italian demon movie. But also like Italian demon movies, this is eerie as hell and really effective. It’s just creepy as shit in the greatest way possible.
I like how the story evolves and brings in the detectives played by Eli Wallach and Christopher Walken. I like both of those actors tremendously and they were great together in this. In fact, I kind of wished they had their own film as two NYC detectives in the gritty ’70s.
The real scene stealer for me was Chris Sarandon. I’ve loved the guy since I first saw him in Fright Night when I was a little kid. He’s just solid in this and I like what they do with his character over the progression of the story.
I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this movie. I’ve known about it for years but never got around to seeing it. Had I known how many great actors were in this, I probably would’ve watched it years earlier.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other religious horror of the ’70s.
Also known as: The Death of Michael Corleone (working title) Release Date: December 20th, 1990 (Beverly Hills premiere) Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola Written by: Mario Puzo, Francis Ford Coppola Music by: Carmine Coppola Cast: Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna, Bridget Fonda, George Hamilton, Sofia Coppola, Raf Vallone, Franc D’Ambrosio, Donal Donnelly, Richard Bright
“I, uh, betrayed my wife. I betrayed myself. I’ve killed men, and I ordered men to be killed. No, it’s useless. I killed… I ordered the death of my brother; he injured me. I killed my mother’s son. I killed my father’s son.” – Michael Corleone
Godfather, Part III gets a lot of shit from just about everybody but I think the general hatred for it is asinine and people dismissing it mainly do so because it doesn’t live up to the bar set by the two films before it. That doesn’t make it a bad movie on its own, though. And honestly, if you look at it, as its own body of work, it’s a pretty compelling and interesting picture.
I like that it takes place at the end of Michael Corleone’s life and it shows how much power he’s amassed for the family, decades after the first two films.
Michael also tries to sort of legitimize everything and wash the blood off of his hands from the past. You also see how certain decisions he’s made have haunted him, such as killing his brother Fredo. However, it’s hard to change one’s nature and its influence and as much as Michael struggles to make things right, old habits die hard and the family finds itself in another war.
This time, the Corleone Family is so powerful that they have a scheme going with powerful people within The Vatican. I don’t want to spoil too much about the plot details but all of this I found really damn interesting. Even if you don’t agree with Michael’s methods, it’s hard not to respect what he’s accomplished with what he convinces himself are noble intentions.
I love that the movie takes this guy, at the end of his life, and exposes his flaws, his doubts and explores how haunted he is and how it’s changed him while still keeping him cold, callous and calculated. It’s a damn masterpiece in how this film showcases his inner conflict and both sides of his character. This is a testament to how good Al Pacino is as an actor, as well as how great of a writer Mario Puzo was and how well Francis Ford Coppola understands these characters.
Additionally, the relationship with Michael and his children has a massive impact on his evolution. I think that Coppola, also coming from a large, close Italian family understood these dynamics quite well and was able to pull from his own experiences as a father and make them fit for the Corleones and their unique situation.
Everything between the core characters’ relationships felt genuine and real. You could sense the pain and the regret between Michael and his ex-wife, Kay. You felt the tension between father and son, as wells as the love between father and daughter. Frankly, with this being as strong as it was, it made the final moments of the picture truly gut-wrenching.
Now I can’t call this movie perfect, as the criticisms of Sofia Coppola’s performance over the years are pretty accurate. Well, the real criticism, not the cruel criticism from those that hate the movie just to hate it. Originally, this role was meant for Winona Ryder but she dropped out of the film and I think that it suffered quite a bit because of this.
Also, the pacing is a bit slow at times and even though this is the shortest of the three Godfather films, it feels like it’s actually the longest.
Other than those two things, I don’t really see any other negatives.
Coppola’s direction is stellar and his eye for visual perfection is uncanny. Cinematographically, this is one of his best films. Everything and I mean everything looks absolutely majestic and flawless. This is a beautiful film from the opening frame to the last and there isn’t a moment that isn’t visually breathtaking.
The score by Carmine Coppola is also superb but then, so is all the film’s music from the party scenes to the big opera house finale.
As I stated in my first paragraph, I don’t get the amount of shit that this picture receives from fans of the series. It’s a damn fine film with minimal flaws and it gives a satisfying ending to a massive family saga. It’s like the third act to a Shakespearean tragedy and when you look at the whole body of work, over the course of three great movies, it’s a tale worthy of rivaling some of literature’s greatest epics.
Also known as: Wall Street 2 (working title) Release Date: May 14th, 2010 Directed by: Oliver Stone Written by: Allan Loeb, Stephen Schiff Based on: characters by Stanley Weiser, Oliver Stone Music by: Craig Armstrong Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michael Douglas, Josh Brolin, Carey Mulligan, Eli Wallach, Susan Sarandon, Frank Langella, Austin Pendleton, Sylvia Miles, Charlie Sheen, Vanessa Ferlito, Jason Clarke, Natalie Morales, Oliver Stone (cameo), Jim Cramer (cameo), Donald Trump (scene deleted)
Dune Entertainment, Edward R. Pressman Film, Twentieth Century Fox, 133 Minutes
“Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs? They get slaughtered.” – Gordon Gekko
Like Godfather, Part III, I feel like this movie gets unnecessarily shitted on.
I get it, though, it’s hard not to compare it to its predecessor and it’s certainly not as good but remove that from the equation and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps is still a pretty good finance industry thriller with a lot of good twists and turns that keep your attention and leave you wondering where the story is going to end up.
Sure, there are some things I would’ve done differently but the movie’s main plot focuses on a new character and completely different situations. It just so happens that this character is engaged to Gordon Gekko’s estranged daughter and with him getting out of prison, he comes into their lives and that has a big effect on their relationship and their future.
The film is well shot and it has pretty alluring cinematography. But when you’ve got Oliver Stone behind the camera, you should expect competent and majestic visuals. Needless to say, he doesn’t disappoint.
I like that this film wasn’t just a rehash of the original and that the main character wasn’t just another Bud Fox. Shia LaBeouf’s Jacob was a better person and even if he was on the verge of doing some shady shit, his morale and goodness prevailed. Sure, he got burned a few times along the way, playing with fire, but he won out in the end because he was better than the schemers around him.
Additionally, this movie had so much talent that it’s hard not to enjoy the performances by Josh Brolin, Eli Wallach, Frank Langella and so many others.
Hell, we even get Charlie Sheen back for a single scene cameo. Although, it would’ve been much more interesting to see him involved in the story somewhat, even if just minutely. His appearance is cool to see, as he runs into Gordon all these years later, but it also felt forced and a bit out of place.
I really liked Brolin in this, though. He was essentially this movie’s version of what Gekko was to the first but something about him was even more dastardly. Where I kind of see Gekko as a sometimes misguided anti-hero in the series, Brolin was certainly a villain.
Also, I liked that this picture focuses a lot on the collapse of Wall Street and involves the Federal Reserve. As someone who followed and wrote about this stuff circa 2008, it felt like the film represented that era well.
In the end, this isn’t as great as its predecessor but it’s still a fine follow-up and frankly, I’d welcome a Wall Street 3 in another decade or so.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: its predecessor, as well as Boiler Room, The Wolf of Wall Street and Rogue Trader.
Also known as: Il bianco il giallo il nero (original Italian title), Samurai (Canada), Ring Around the Horse’s Tail (US dubbed version), Shoot First… Ask Questions Later (US alternative title) Release Date: January 17th, 1975 (Italy) Directed by: Sergio Corbucci Written by: Amendola & Corbucci, Santiago Moncada, Renee Asseo, Antonio Troisio, Marcello Coscia, Sergio Spina Music by: Guido & Maurizio De Angelis Cast: Giuliano Gemma, Tomas Milian, Eli Wallach
Filmel, Mundial Film, Tritone Cinematografica, 112 Minutes
“[about to be hanged by a gang] I’ll never die without my boots on, and a star on my chest.” – Sheriff Edward Gideon
I’ve seen and reviewed about a half dozen Sergio Corbucci spaghetti westerns in recent years. I didn’t know about this one, however, until I stumbled across it while looking for something else. But I’m glad I did, even if it’s one of Corbucci’s weaker westerns.
Still, it’s a well cast film with three cool characters that had nice chemistry and provided solid performances that required dramatic and comedic acting with a little pinch of badassness sprinkled in.
People today would probably find the fact that Italian actor Tomas Milian plays a samurai in the Old West to be “problematic” and while the character is written mostly for laughs by tapping into cultural stereotypes, Milian still gives his character a certain panache and coolness when push comes to shove.
Spaghetti western legends Eli Wallach and Giuliano Gemma also add some fun to the proceedings, with Wallach playing a Sheriff and Gemma playing a typical western cowboy.
The plot sees this unlikely trio come together to track down a stolen Japanese horse that was intended to be a gift for the US government. The three men end up embroiled in a rivalry with a band of desperadoes that are made up of former Confederate soldiers.
Side note: this film was actually made as a loose parody of the Charles Bronson starring Red Sun. Milian’s samurai character would also reappear in the film Crime at the Chinese Restaurant in 1981, directed by Sergio’s younger brother, Bruno Corbucci.
Out of the Corbucci westerns I’ve seen, this one is, unfortunately, the weakest. But I can’t fault the director for trying to do something different for his last picture in the genre. While the characters are amusing and work fairly well together, the movie does kind of miss its mark and pales in comparison to Django, The Great Silence, Compañeros and The Mercenary. I’d also rank it behind Navajo Joe, which wasn’t anywhere near as goofy and borderline slapstick-y despite having more humorous bits than Corbucci’s other spaghetti westerns.
This also lacks the gravitas of those earlier films. Not that that’s a bad thing, per se, but Corbucci sort of had a particular style with his westerns and this plays more like a generic western comedy than the great action flicks one could expect from Corbucci.
Overall, I like the casting and I enjoyed their characters but apart from that, this is almost forgettable and probably only stayed afloat in a sea of spaghetti flicks due to who made it.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other Sergio Corbucci spaghetti westerns.
The Dollars Trilogy, also known as The Man With No Name Trilogy, is one of the best film series there has ever been, capped off by the greatest film ever made.
These films also featured the best soundtracks ever created by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
But let me talk about all three of Sergio Leone’s masterpieces on their own.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964):
Also known as:Per un pugno di dollari (Italy), lit. For a Fistful of Dollars Release Date: September, 1964 (Italy) Directed by: Sergio Leone Written by: Víctor Andrés Catena, Jamie Comas Gil, Fernando Di Leo, Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari, Tonino Valerii (all uncredited), Mark Lowell, Clint Eastwood (English version) Based on:Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, Ryūzō Kikushima Music by: Ennio Morricone (credited as Dan Savio) Cast: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Josef Edger, Wolfgang Lukschy, Gian Maria Volontè (as John Wells)
Jolly Film, Constantin Film, Ocean Films, Unidis, United Artists, 100 Minutes
“To kill a man you shoot him in the heart. Isn’t that what you said, Ramon?” – Joe (The Man With No Name)
The first film in the series is the smallest in scope. The story is very straightforward and compared to its sequels, it is pretty basic. It is still a fantastic film on its own and is one of the best westerns ever made. Had Sergio Leone just made this film and not the other two, it may have had the same level of love and admiration that accompanies The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
It introduces us to the character referred to as “The Man With No Name”. In the film, he is casually referred to as “Joe” but it isn’t the true name of this stranger who wanders into town and changes things for the better before leaving.
This film is a template for the ones after it and that isn’t a knock, as it was executed greatly and fits well within the series that this trilogy became. You can tell that Sergio Leone is getting his feet wet with the western genre and for a first effort, this is a magnificent work of art.
It is also a lose remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. It turns the samurai wandering into a Japanese village and switches it to a gunslinger wandering into an Old West town.
Clint Eastwood truly owns the character and the villainous Ramón (played by Gian Maria Volontè) is a perfect foil for the hero.
The movie ends with one of the greatest and imaginative gun duels in film history. In fact, it would go on to be seen in Back to the Future, Part II and would inspire Marty McFly when he had to face his evil foil in a gun battle in Back to the Future, Part III.
Plus, the opening sequence of this film is absolute perfection and maybe my second favorite sequence in any spaghetti western, only surpassed by the finale of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. But those two scenes were incredible bookends to this film series.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: Any Leone spaghetti western.
For A Few Dollars More (1965):
Also known as:Per qualche dollaro in più (Italy) Release Date: December 30th, 1965 (Italy) Directed by: Sergio Leone Written by: Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, Enzo Dell’Aquila (uncredited), Fernando Di Leo (uncredited) Music by: Ennio Morricone Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volontè, Luigi Pistilli, Aldo Sambrell, Klaus Kinski, Mario Brega
Produzioni Europee Associati (PEA), Arturo González Producciones Cinematográficas, Constantin Film, United Artists, 132 Minutes
“Alive or dead? It’s your choice.” – Monco (The Man With No Name)
The first sequel expands on the world of the first film. It feels bigger, the plot has more meat to it and our hero gets to team up with a bounty hunter named Col. Douglas Mortimer (played by the always spectacular Lee Van Cleef). The villain, El Indio is played by the previous installment’s villain actor, Gian Maria Volontè.
The two heroes work together and sometimes against one another in trying to take down El Indio and his gang. There are a lot of twists to the story and there is a lot more depth and layers than the plot of A Fistful of Dollars. Leone really found his stride in this film but it still wasn’t absolute perfection – that was yet to come.
This installment is also a bit more humorous than the previous film, in that the relationship between “The Man With No Name” (referred to as “Monco”) and Col. Douglas Mortimer is pretty chummy and entertaining. But this was Eastwood and Van Cleef in their prime, if you ask me. Both are magnetic, charismatic and each brings so much gravitas to any role that the cup was overflowing with masculine intensity.
As the story unfolds and the relationships build, you are left with a pretty lovable tale. Albeit a pretty badass lovable tale.
And as incredible as Ennio Morricone is as a composer, each chapter in this trilogy sees him evolve into something even greater.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: Any Leone spaghetti western.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966):
Also known as: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (Italy) Release Date: December 23rd, 1966 (Italy) Directed by: Sergio Leone Written by: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone, Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli Music by: Ennio Morricone Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli
Produzioni Europee Associati (PEA), Arturo González Producciones Cinematográficas, Constantin Film, United Artists, 177 Minutes
“You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” – Blondie (The Man With No Name)
In my opinion, this is the greatest film ever made. It is perfect and truly has no flaws. Sure, westerns aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but some people eat laundry detergent because the Internet tells them to.
Clint Eastwood (The Good) is back, as is Lee Van Cleef (The Bad) who plays the evil Angel Eyes. Eli Wallach (The Ugly) joins them and becomes one of the best characters in cinematic history.
This is a three hour epic and not a single moment of film is wasted. Each segment serves the story well and fleshes out these dynamic characters. Everyone is given a chance to play off of each other and each exchange between characters drives the story forward and strengthens the relationship between all three men.
Even though Clint Eastwood’s “The Man With No Name” is the hero of this series, it is Eli Wallach’s Tuco Ramirez that is the actual star of this picture. He goes from annoying but funny bandit to a lovable and tragic character that you find yourself cheering for by the time this thing is over.
This film is a perfect example of how to develop characters well but with a minimalist approach. Their backstory doesn’t need to be spelled out in every detail. You can hint at their past, drop clues and come to conclusions based off of the emotion the actor wears on their face at certain points. Eli Wallach really gave an Oscar caliber performance here but these sort of films are ignored by elitist Academy snobbery.
The cinematography, the geography, the interiors – all are perfect. This film takes place in a massive and dirty world and it really feels like the American West, even though it was filmed in Europe in 1960s spaghetti western fashion.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly plays like an old opera in its level of scope, story and violence. While the violence isn’t over the top, it serves a real narrative purpose and has a gritty authenticity about it that no other director has been able to capture since.
There isn’t a single thing about this movie that I would tweak, edit out or even try to expand on. I keep saying “perfect” and “flawless” because those are the only words I can even use to describe this untouchable film.
This is Sergio Leone’s magnum opus and the man was one of the greatest directors to ever live.
Rating: 10/10 Pairs well with: Any Leone spaghetti western.
Release Date: August 10th, 1990 Directed by: Jack Nicholson Written by: Robert Towne Music by: Van Dyke Parks Cast: Jack Nicholson, Harvey Keitel, Meg Tilly, Madeleine Stowe, Eli Wallach, Rubén Blades, Frederic Forrest, David Keith, James Hong, Tracey Walter, Luana Anders, Tom Waits (uncredited), Faye Dunaway (voice)
88 Productions, Paramount Pictures, 138 Minutes
“I’m used to seein’ the intimate details of people’s lives, but lookin’ at a guy’s x-rays is as intimate as it gets. It’s the kind of thing most guys don’t even tell their wives about.” – Jake Gittes
I have never seen The Two Jakes until recently. I feel like I was psychologically deterred for decades because I remember people bashing it ever since it came out. It is this film’s existence that pointed me towards Chinatown, the film it is a sequel too. Sure, I would’ve eventually discovered Chinatown but I saw trailers for The Two Jakes on the big screen when I was just eleven years-old, so I wasn’t quite up on my knowledge of neo-noir or 1970s crime dramas. I was big on Jack Nicholson, however, as he wowed me a year earlier as the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman.
The Two Jakes has been treated unfairly, though. Is it as stellar as Chinatown? Not really but those are massive shoes to fill. However, it is one of the best, if not… the best, neo-noir film of the 1990s. Jack Nicholson directed this sequel and while he isn’t Roman Polanski behind the camera, he still had a great eye and knew what the hell he was doing, putting this second chapter of Jake Gittes life to celluloid.
The cast in this film really makes this thing work. I loved seeing Nicholson play opposite of greats like Harvey Keitel and Eli Wallach. It was cool seeing James Hong come back too. While Faye Dunaway was obviously missing from the film, despite lending her voice to a scene, Madeleine Stowe and Meg Tilly were really good as the two top ladies in the picture. Stowe was a hot drunken maniac in the best way and Tilly was a soft yet strong women with a good presence. David Keith, a guy I have always liked, shows up a few times and gets a real moment to shine alongside Nicholson and Wallach. Rubén Blades steals the show in his scenes and after really loving that guy on Fear the Walking Dead, it was neat seeing him so young, full of vigor and not so dissimilar from his character on that AMC zombie show.
Vilmos Zsigmond handled the cinematography. He was not the cinematographer on the original Chinatown but he had a lot of experience, his most notable credit at the time being Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His management of the film’s visual allure is worth some serious props, as he and Nicholson created a very authentic and lived in 1940s Los Angeles.
I feel that this film actually does rival its predecessor in its cinematography and overall ambiance. The tone isn’t as brooding and sinister as Chinatown but that’s film’s narrative went to some places that brought out that underlying darkness. The Two Jakes isn’t a cold and bleak tale wrapped in beauty and opulence like Chinatown was, but it is a perfect visual and narrative extension of what was established in the first film without copying it. I kind of respect The Two Jakes for being its own thing and not trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice… or at least, in the same way.
Robert Towne, who wrote both of these Jake Gittes pictures and won an Academy Award for Chinatown, had plans for a trilogy. Unfortunately, this film was not the success that Paramount Pictures had hoped for. The third film was cancelled, which is a shame. It was going to bring the story of Jake Gittes to a proper close, as it was to be focused on him later in life.
If you love Chinatown and have never seen The Two Jakes, you probably should. It isn’t as bad as some people have said and its lack of success upon its release was probably more of a reflection of the time and not the overall quality of the film itself.
Also known as: ¡Viva la muerte… tua! (Italy/Spain), Don’t Turn the Other Cheek (US), Release Date: September 22nd, 1971 (Italy) Directed by: Duccio Tessari Written by: Massimo De Rita, Gunter Ebert, Dino Maiuri, Juan de Orduna Music by: Gianni Ferrio, Ennio Morricone Cast: Franco Nero, Eli Wallach, Lynn Redgrave
Hercules Associated Entertainment, Juan de Orduña, P.C., Terra-Filmkunst, International Amusements Corporation, 103 Minutes
“Let me sleep. It’s too early for a hanging.” – Max Lozoya
Despite my love of its two big stars, Long Live Your Death flew under my radar until recently. While it isn’t on the same level as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (with Eli Wallach) or Django (with Franco Nero), who wouldn’t want to see these two great spaghetti western icons together on the screen?
The film is a co-production between Italy, Spain and Germany but that wasn’t unusual with these sort of films. It was also a political spaghetti western and fits right in with the Zapata western sub-genre.
In this film, a con-artist (Nero) and a bandit (Wallach) team up in order to find a hidden treasure. Along the way, they keep having run-ins with an Irish journalist (Lynn Redgrave) who has a thirst for sparking revolutions in Central America. As is typical with these films, the heroes reject being heroes and give in to their own selfish greed and only play along where it suits them. It comes down to whether or not they do the right thing in the end.
The story isn’t highly original or anything that the genre hasn’t done a dozen times but the cast is what makes this version of a common story a bit more endearing and entertaining. Wallach essentially plays Tuco from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and really, this could be a sequel or prequel to that where it just catches up to him at some other point in his life. Nero doesn’t channel Django in this but he is a character similar to his more boisterous and charismatic roles from his spaghetti western days.
The film was directed by Duccio Tessari, often considered to be one of the fathers of spaghetti westerns. Like many spaghetti maestros, he started out in the sword and sandal genre until that ran its course and opened up the floodgates to the spaghetti western boom. His biggest films in the genre were the Ringo series: A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo.
Long Live Your Death is far from the best in the spaghetti western genre but it is still an enjoyable experience for fans of these films. Wallach and Nero are two of the most charismatic actors of all-time and at the top of the list in spaghetti fare. This picture showcases their talents and it works. They alone carry this picture and Redgrave is amusing, as well.
RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Originally written in 2015.
Spaghetti westerns are better than westerns, at least in my opinion. Sure, there are fantastic American-made westerns but as a whole, the Italian-Spanish (sometimes German) films are superior. There is more grit, more bad ass shit and a level of violence that adds realism and authenticity to a genre that has typically been family friendly in the U.S.
The greatest film of all-time is a spaghetti western. And many of the other greatest films ever also fall into this genre.
I have spent the last several months watching a lot of these films. I have always been familiar with the greats but I had to delve deeper into the more obscure reaches of the genre. A special shout out goes to the Spaghetti Western Database for the hours of research I was able to accomplish in mostly one place. Also, thanks to Amazon, Hulu and YouTube for providing several of these films. The rest were an adventure to track down.
This list is the result of my hundreds of hours of film watching.
1. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
2. Once Upon A Time In the West
3. The Great Silence
4. The Big Gundown
5. For A Few Dollars More
7. A Fistful of Dollars
8. The Mercenary
9. Face to Face
10. Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!
11. A Bullet For the General
13. Duck, You Sucker! (A Fistful of Dynamite)
14. Day of Anger
17. Return of Ringo
18. Death Rides A Horse
19. Cemetery Without Crosses
20. My Name Is Nobody
21. The Grand Duel
22. A Genius, Two Partners and A Dupe
23. A Pistol for Ringo
24. If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death
25. The Dirty Outlaws
26. Django, Prepare a Coffin (Viva Django)
27. Run Man Run
29. Navajo Joe
30. Four of the Apocalypse
31. Massacre Time
32. Shoot the Living, Pray for the Dead
34. Django Strikes Again
35. The Return of Sabata
36. A Few Dollars For Django
37. Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming
38. Machine Gun Killers
39. Beyond the Law
40. Ace High
41. The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones)
42. Trinity Is Still My Name
44. Django the Bastard
45. God Forgives, I Don’t
46. Minnesota Clay
47. God’s Gun
48. They Call Me Trinity
49. Ringo and His Golden Pistol (Johnny Oro)
50. Arizona Colt