There seems to be some confusion between Colizzi’s Western and Randy Bottoms’s seminal pornographic film Booty Hill (1972), starring Woody Rode and George Backman.
Hmm, yes … oookay … don’t you think it was just a joke? I can’t imagine that someone wants Femi in the Spencer role or that someone would criticise any Spag for not being a porn.
I had a suspicion! Porn Boot Hill starring Peter North as Cat and Ron Jeremy as Hutch! I bet it would be more successful movie. And there’s no need to recast George Eastman.
There’s a chapter dedicated to ‘Ace High’ and ‘Boot Hill’ in Lee Broughton’s book The Euro-Western. He details how the two Thomas characters boldly break the Hollywood Western’s “rules” regarding the representation of African Americans out West. It’s argued that the presence of rope artists, street fairs, circuses, clowns, etc, generate a “carnivalesque” space in these films and the carnival has traditionally been theorised to be a space that promotes egalitarianism and the kind of racial equality seen in Colizzi’s Westerns. But Broughton also links the assertive and rebellious nature of Brock Peters and Woody Strode’s characters (and the racial slurs that they are subjected to by the films’ villains) to the escalating racial tensions that existed between Southern and Northern Italians and the political unrest that was being experienced in Italy (and beyond) during the late 1960s. Another chapter in the book looks at the equally striking and atypical female African American characters that appear in ‘Lola Colt’ and ‘The Great Silence’.
Lee - does any of your work cover some of the technical aspects of SWs like editing, cinematography etc, or is your focus mainly on narrative content?
The Euro-Western book is focused on showing the ways in which European Westerns prefigured Hollywood Westerns when it came to introducing progressive or groundbreaking representations of the wild West’s traditional ‘Others’ (strong women in the case of British Westerns, Native Americans in the case of West German Westerns and African Americans in the case of Italian Westerns). There’s some narrative analysis in the book (comparing Euro-Western plot points and scenes with those of relevant Hollywood Westerns) but any aspect of the films that can be used to illustrate the atypical representation of these characters is drawn upon and this includes technical aspects such as editing and cinematography.
For example, when the book deals with Woody Strode’s appearance in ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’, it’s noted that Stony is introduced in what is only the third shot of the film, is granted several close-ups, is a villainous character, is the possessor of the largest weapon and is the only antagonist of the three featured to successfully hit Harmonica with a bullet. A definite break with the way that Hollywood employed and represented African Americans in its contemporaneous Westerns and Colizzi’s films build on what Leone did and take it in even more interesting and striking directions. The progressive character traits, activities and actions that Colizzi gave his African American characters are detailed in the book and are too numerous to summarise here. But at a technical level the book does also consider the way that Colizzi used editing, camera angles, shot sizes, shot composition and blocking to further empower his African American characters.
But wasn’t that already also changing in Hollywood?
In Rio Conchos (1964) and in 100 Rifles (1969) Jim Brown plays strong characters. Strode himself played in Sgt. Rutledge (1961) and in The Professionals (1966) and Sydney Poitier in Duel at Diablo (1966). All these contain strong self-confident black characters. All at the side of white leads, but that’s not different in the Spags.
There was some change in Hollywood during the 1960s and all of the Hollywood films you mention (plus several others) are acknowledged and discussed in some detail in the book. But the discussion goes deeper than notions of the characters’ strength and self-confidence. Close readings of the character traits, activities and actions of the African American characters found in the Italian Westerns ultimately reveals that - by comparison - the African American characters in the Hollywood Westerns of the 1960s were actually severely constrained and limited by a series of prescriptive representational “rules”. Some of these representational “rules” were still being observed when Hollywood’s Blaxploitation Westerns were being made in the 1970s (the Blaxploitation Westerns are also acknowledged and discussed in the book), which makes the African American-orientated Italian Westerns from the 1960s even more remarkable in terms of their progressive and groundbreaking depictions of African American characters out West. So there does actually remain a lot of difference between Hollywood Westerns and Italian Westerns when it comes to the representation of African Americans in films made during the 1960s.
Gaius Julius Caesar: I will now give you a brief commentary. The Gauls having been defeated, their chief Vercingetorix laid his arms at the feet of the Glorious General, who occupied all Gaul.
First Patrician (to Second Patrician): Who’s he talking about?
Second Patrician: Himself. He always talks about himself in the third person.
First Patrician (to Caesar): He’s great!
First Patrician: Er … you!
Caesar: Oh, him!
— Asterix: The Mansions of the Gods
Pure brilliance …
Thanks- I haven’t seen Boot Hill for a very long time, but I do remember the introductory sequence being technically strong.
So who knew that Woody Strode’s wife was also in OUATITW:
^is that part of the BOOT HILL score? Can’t remember (EDIT: It is!)
If so, Colizzi sure had a thing about Orleans style music. See the Jazz funeral for Bill San Antonio in GOD FORGIVES… I DON’T.
And speaking of music, who is this Gianfranco Plenizio?
I thought the film’s score was credited to, Colizzi regular, Carlo Rustichelli?
In this case Carlo Rustichelli is the composer and Gianfranco Plenizio the conductor.
Plenizio was score composer on 30 movies (Django 2, Garter Colt) and conductor on more than 250, including El Puro.
Watched this one the other night, what I thought was a rewatch of what I thought I then thought a mediocre film. But I couldn’t remember a thing of it, and I can’t find any notes of any prior watching. So it seems I have perhaps watched it for the first time.
Brilliant opening and great feel for the first half hour (I don’t know about the rest) make me want to watch a better release than the 93 min download that I have on my PC. A lot of releases available, I see. What I wonder would be the best option, when you prefer Italian audio with English subs, and if not available or not so good, an English audio?
English subs might be a problem. I would also like to have some translated from the Italian. I think the German remastered StudioCanal has the best picture with German and Italian audio. I have a fandub that looks really nice. For English audio the Retrovision looks nice but is 95 min NTSC. I have it but I’m not sure what is missing. The Italian Storm single disc release looks pretty nice, is a little over 95 min PAL, anamorphic and has English audio.
Thanks for your advise. I’ll go for the Studio Canal release, then.
Hmm, seems I have been watching this one five nights in a row now.
Well I expected this to be absolute dross, but it was a bit better than I thought. Suppose I’ll have to endure Ace High again to decide which one I really prefer.
I just watched this movie again.
It took me 3 attempts to watch the full movie a few years ago as I disliked the circus/comedy parts.
I can not say this about even some of the worst SW’s that I have seen.
This movie has a good cast and I like the storyline but it is still too much of a flip between serious and comedy/circus - and this is true of the music also.
What if the movie could be re-edited to remove the majority of the circus elements and focus on Hill/Spencer and the story. Could also dump the saloon brawl near the end.
I suggest watching God Forgives… and Ace High.