Black Jack (Gianfranco Baldanello, 1968)

Just wrote a review of this film. One of Woods’ and Baldanello’s best for my money and surprised to see it doesn’t already have a discussion thread. So here we are. Anyhow, I’m interested to know what others think about this one.

For more info visit:
Database Page: Black Jack - The Spaghetti Western Database

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One of my favourites this one.

Excellent story of revenge with Woods on top form, and with a decent dose of violence in this often intense film.

Quite a surprise it didn’t have a thread yet

I bought the French disc (fullscreen, only French audio) about two years ago and started watching it with very low expectations, but it turned out to be one the biggest (and best) surprises in a long time. Not a top 10 film of course, but way above average and nearly unique in creating a gritty, down-beat, and ultimately very nasty atmosphere. Even within the genre, this is a pretty cruel, gruesome movie. We have all been dreaming, when we were young, of being the hero of an action movie, but I can’t imagine that anybody has ever dreamt of being Black Jack.

Remarkable movie

Quite a hidden gem in my opinion. Very bleak and sadistic. Wood’s character is not only getting his revenge, he is clearly having a blast making his enemies suffer. The best scene has to be the one when he pays town inhabitiants to kill one the bandits. Recommended, it gets 8/10 from me

Haven’t seen it, but another gem in need of a proper release I imagine?

What versions exist besides the French DVD?

I have a rip from an old Greek VHS in fullscreen with english audio, and quality is OK.

There’s a german release according to the data base but it doesn’t look very promising. I have a rip from an old Dutch VHS with english audio. Like Ennioo’s greek one, the quality is quite good but is sadly in fullscreen. This film is definitely worthy of a decent DVD release.

Full screen is quite ok for Black Jack. There’s no loss on information, instead you’ll see more on top and bottom.

Good to know.

Great review Phil - it made me dust it down for a re-veiwing and a reviewing. Well, a few comments at least.
I have a vid-rip on dvdr of the Dutch subbed version, plus I have a fabulous original Italian one-of-those film bookletty things (photies attached) with an extra synopsis added in English, so more a few observations than a review - and maybe a few points that havn’t yet been mentioned.

One point of interest? I did remember some odd looking rock formations in some of the desert shots (which I originally thought might have been some of those in …Apocalypse Joe) but seems they were shot in Israel (Desert Studios, Eilat).

The translated synopsis I have is pretty accurate (unlike Weisser’s who seems to think that Baldinello showed more “conviction” with (imo) the comparitively dreadful 30 Winchesters for El Diablo - more Weisser-madness surely?).
But there are two errors in this synopsis, in an otherwise well written piece? Which got me thinking - maybe the translation is at fault? Can anybody (scherps) help with this?
In the English … “In a moment of madness he fires at Black Jack …” This is in relation to Peter (his bro-in-law) being told by BJ that he can rape Skinner’s daughter (at the end of the film). How does the Italian version fare … “In un momento di follia accoltella Black Jack per porre fine ad una teoria di vendette inaudite e inutile.”?
The reason I ask is because it’s a knife, and not a gun, that is used.
The other (which could mean that there may be a differently edited print out there maybe?) relates to the order of the vengeance dealt out. “He finds them one by one and takes the fiercest possible vengeance. The first to fall is Indian Joe who is strangled …” as compared to “Dopo qualche tempo, guarito nel fisico ma non nell’animo, Black Jack si mette alla ricera dei suoi ex compagni. Li scova uno ad uno e si vendica nel modo piu feroce, compreso Indian Joe che viene strangolato …” Again, I ask because Indian Joe has the penultimate bit of (hairy) vengeance dished out - not the first.
Anyway, could be jus’ a bit of poor memory by the reviewer, or a bit of ‘lost in translation’, but I would be interested to know all the same.

And why has nobody mentioned THE NUDITY!!? :o :-*
50 minutes in and there’s a light-hearted bit (I use this term relatively of course, as this is one of the nastiest slices of spaghetti-pie out there). Gomez is about to have a go on the beautiful and wonderfully bare-breasted Rosario until he is chased off by her father for a duel. (Early nudity for a sw - 1968?)

I loved this film the first time I saw it, and I still do. Despite any number of faults it may have, it is magnificently ‘spaghetti’. There should be no empathetic or sypathetic feelings for Jack (as Phil mentions about him being a hero like no kid imagined being).
Besides orchestrating a robbery that leaves innocent people killed, he spends most the film grubbily limping his way towards insanity. But Robert Woods is great in this (as he is in El Puro), and there is a tragedy and pathos about him that makes him the ‘Black’ bit of Jack, but also willed this viewer to side with him as he dished out the horrible, but almost poetically justifiable, vengeance. There are some great touches as well - particularly when he plays ‘blind’ against Rob, the card-shark, calling 4 aces both times without looking at the cards. And when told “We don’t like the way you play cards!” they’re turned over - but this second time … ;D 8) 8).

One of the best examples of spaghettidom. If only more films got the mixture this good/bad.
Truely a western painted in those shades of grey and black, jack.
The copy I got ain’t so bad, but I’d love to see this get a better release.

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Completely agreed !!! This movie needs a decent DVD release !!!

“In un momento di follia accoltella Black Jack per porre fine ad una teoria di vendette inaudite e inutile.”?

In moment of madness he attacks Black jack with a knife to put an end to an unheard and unnessary way of taking revenge"
The translator simply misread accoltellare (to attack wirth a knife, to stab); coltella = knife, he apparently read (ac)[b]colt/b and thought the man used a colt !

“Dopo qualche tempo, guarito nel fisico ma non nell’animo, Black Jack si mette alla ricera dei suoi ex compagni. Li scova uno ad uno e si vendica nel modo piu feroce, compreso Indian Joe che viene strangolato …”

After some time, physically recovered, but mentally still ill, Black jack starts looking for his former companions. He tracks them down one by one and takes revenge in the most gruesome ways, including the Indian Joe, who is strangulated

The word order in the Italian sentence is rather unusual - I retained this word order in the English translation. It would be logical to write : Li scova uno ad uno, compreso Indian Joe (he tracks them down one by one, including Indian Joe); the parenthetic clause ‘e si vendica nel modo piu feroce’ (and takes revenge in the most gruesome ways) is confusing, probably gramatically not even correct.
Anyway, the translater apparently read ‘one by one’ as ‘first’.

Amigos, say, which runtime do your different copies (french, greek, dutch, italian) have?

The French disc runs 1:34:47

It’s full screen, but if it’s really hard matte (so with extra image top and bottom), as Stanton says, the image quality isn’t too bad
Colours have faded a little, but I’ve seen far worse, and the French audio is okay

Going to watch it again soon

Thanks for the translation scherpy.
The open matte (?) version I’ve got is in good nick, dutch subs and runs a coupla seconds over 94 mins, but looks like it might’ve lost a few secs at the beginning … straight into the credits.
Our database reckons on 99 mins. so unless it’s one of those pal conversion things that I don’t understand (but Brother Stanton does), then it is wrong, or a longer version exists somewhere?
But the 94 min. version doesn’t look obviously cut - there’s plenty of nastiness - oh, and did I mention - nudity! :slight_smile:

[Edit - oh yeah … it’s Sanchez in this version, not Skinner.]

PAL shows 25 images a second, NTSC only 24
As a result a PAL conversion has a speed-up of 4%, a film of 90 minutes, only runs some 86 minutes in PAL

I’m sure it’s open matte, I’ve never heard about a version which wasn’t fullscreen.
A Koch DVD would be most possibly 1,78:1.

The 99min were added by me today straight out of the Bruckner bible. (I’ve also changed the name of the guy who was responsible for idea and co-screenplay. There was another name I never have heard of.)

A hint for the Rev to wise him up and make him even wiser than he already is:

The standard for movies in cinema is 24 frames/sec. Same for NTSC.
But the Pal TV system shows them with 25 frames/sec due to technical reasons.
So you have to add 4% to the Pal runtime to get the cinema runtime.
Due to this so called Pal speed-up e.g. a 100 min Pal DVD is the equivalent to a 104 min cinema or NTSC runtime.

Most DVDs and VHS versions we are dealing with are in Pal.

So your Black Jack DVDs have about 99 min and are possibly uncut.

The german DVD (also fullscreen) has only 92 min Pal.

Can someone help me with the end of Black Jack? My DVD-version (attraction movies) is strangely cut, so the end is quite confusing. I’ll describe, how the end looks like on my DVD:

Jack is threatening Skinner and he wants his brother in law to rape Skinner’s daughter. Then Peter seems to have killed Skinner without raping the daughter, so Jack is not amused at all. Now all of a sudden Jack is dead and Peter drags the daughter out of the collapsing house. Outside it’s alternately raining and snowing, which might be caused by the flashbacks that are cut in from time to time.

That’s really confusing me…
So could someone explain the end to me?

I have the VHS version from UFA,in this Jack even rides away,after someone killed Skinner.Only more confusion… :smiley:
I think Jack die at the right end

Difficult, the crap german DVD has the same end.

The Ufa tape mentioned by Lanky contains the german theatrical version with a happy end for the dub Django.
Even if this end is more cut than on the DVD, there is at least half a minute which the DVD hasn’t. But there must be more missing cause it still doesn’t explain how BJ comes to the ground.

Maybe he stumbled over an ant bone.