Duck, You Sucker! / Giù la testa (Sergio Leone, 1971)

(Stanton) #121

I don’t like the way Leone filmed the action.

In the end all his big action scenes (in FoD and DYS) are not that good, and belong to the weakest scenes in his westerns.
Only the civil war bridge attack in GBU is very well done. Because Leone did not shoot it in an action manner, which was perfect for this scene.

Oh, and the wild bunch battle in Nobody is very well done, but that one is also done different from the usual action method.

(sartana1968) #122

very good SW from leone!
i especialy like the opinion from sebastian 'A great revolution epic, with lots of explosions, massacres, political allusions, flashbacks and comradery. An underrated classic? Maybe in another 30 years’
the budget of this looks very very high! :slight_smile:
the acting is also superb…

(Paul) #123

This is one of my favourite films and has been for a decade or so. I don’t think I enjoyed it on my first viewing (in the early 1990s) but it gradually grew on me, and now I love the whole thing, especially the relationship between Coburn and Steiger’s characters. Thanks to this movie, I always try to make a point of visiting Toner’s whenever I’m in Dublin - it’s always eerie stepping into that pub when you’ve seen it so many times in this movie.

(El Topo) #124

Pretty much agree, also one of my favourites alwyas thought it was a underestimate movie

(Richard--W) #125

It’ so unlike his other spaghetti westerns. None of that “man with no name” shenanigans. It took an adjustment on my part, but I love the film now. I’ve always respected Rod Steiger, and I respond to his enthusiasm here. Yes he is enthused, but he tries real hard to restrain himself. I think he related to the peasant who wants to give the rich bastards what for. He understood, even more than Coburn, how to act with his face for Sergio Leone. He gives good face, if you know what I mean. I’m just old enough to remember going to the movies to see a great performance – a preoccupation moviegoers are no longer concerned with – and DUCK, YOU SUCKER! is another great Rod Steiger performance.


(John Welles) #126

Duck, You Sucker! (Leone/71)

“Duck, You Sucker” (1971) Duck, You Sucker! (Italian: Giù la testa), also known as “A Fistful of Dynamite” and “Once Upon a Time… the Revolution”, is the last Spaghetti Western directed by the legendary Sergio Leone and it is also his penultimate film - his last being the gangster epic “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984) with Robert De Niro and James Woods. This however, stars James Coburn and Rod Steiger in what is probably Leone’s most patchy Spaghetti Western.

The screenplay was written by Sergio Donati, Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni and follows the escapades of John Mallory (James Coburn) in 1913 during the Mexican revolution, an Irish Republican explosives expert who has fled from Ireland after killing British soldiers. In Mexico, he meets Juan Miranda (Rod Steiger), a Mexican outlaw and together they raid the great bank of Mesa Verde. However, John has already joined forces with the revolutionaries.

The screenplay is rather episodic at times and there does seem to be a lack of focus, especially up to the bank raid. After that, politics and the revolution are brought into sharper reality. The direction too, is fantastic at certain points. The scene where John and Juan find most of their comrades, including Juan’s family and children, have been killed by the army in a cave is one of the best pieces of work Leone ever did. The massacre, later on in the movie, shot in an abandoned sugar mill in one shot, is so huge and horrifying that it amounts to one of the best depictions of mass murder on film. Yet at other times, the direction seems to be rather by-the-numbers and not at all inspired, like the slightly predictable shoot-em-up final. The cinematography by Giuseppe Ruzzolini, though, is excellent at all times, as is Ennio Morricone’s strange score that will definitely grow on you. The performance by James Coburn is his usual minimalist stuff, but he does that very, very well. Rod Steiger sometimes overacts, yet it is different from anything else he did.

So, it is not Sergio Leone’s best movie; in fact it is probably not even as good as his basic (if classic) “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964). Yet when the film gets it act together, there are scenes that equal the best he ever did.

(Asa) #127

Saw this many years ago and didn’t really take to it, recently thought I’d give it another look through fresh, more Spag-interested eyes. The quality is apparent from minute 1 to minute 150 and Messrs Coburn and Steiger - neither of whom I generally take to - are very good (Steiger in particular). I think I didn’t especially care for the film before because a) it goes on WAY. TOO. LONG, and b) as a younger man I don’t think I was keen on relating to an IRA bomber as my protagonist. However I’m now somewhat less perturbed by the stylistic choice of having Coburn’s character over from the troubles in Ireland, and although Duck, You Sucker STILL overruns by at least two set-pieces, it holds the interest well. I started listening to the Christopher Frayling audio commentary too which I thought was entertaining but, alas, I crashed out about 45 minutes in. Maybe another day.

The “Shong! Shong! Shonnng!” soundtrack however drives me up the wall! Makes me want to dynamite my speakers.

(Novecento) #128
The "Shong! Shong! Shonnng!" soundtrack however drives me up the wall! Makes me want to dynamite my speakers.

It’s “Sean, Sean, Sean” referring to Coburn’s character :slight_smile:

(Asa) #129

It’s “Shonnng!”, Relating to the sound of his massive erection every time he blows something up. I think.

“Mallory! D’ya fancy blowing something up for me?”
“Yes, I do!”


Wasn’t his name John?

(Bill san Antonio) #130

It’s Sean but he says John to Juan as he can’t pronounce it right.

(Stanton) #131

Well, yes, but this is actually pretty confusing, as there is also a wanted poster from Ireland which calls him John, not Sean. Maybe only a continuity error.

There are also meanwhile some slightly weird theories about who really is Sean. Some think that the unnamed friend in the flashbacks is actually Sean. But there’s no real evidence for this. Someone should have asked Donati or Vincenzoni about it.

(titoli) #132

Coburn’s character name is definitely John, it is the name under his picture in the Irishman newspaper which Juan and his kids took from his bike. I’m pretty sure Sean IS his Irish friend. “Sean, Sean, Sean” music is played every time over the flashbacks from Ireland, and after he says to Juan he’s name is Sean, then change it to John, he drifts away and we get the first flashback.

On imdb in credits, Irish friend is Sean, he even has surname, Sean Nolan. I’m not sure where the last name came from, haven’t noticed it in the movie, it looks like that was taken from the script.

(Stanton) #133

No, there’s no evidence for the Sean theory. It’s just a guess.

The flashback friend isn’t credited

(Stanton) #134

Most books refer to Coburn’s character as Sean, but in the film he calls himself John. In the novelization of the film, which probably follows the screenplay, as it contains the scenes which Leone shot but excluded, he is also called John. Also in the briefly seen English newspaper which offers a reward for him.

The IRA friend (played by David Warbeck) isn’t credited, but the screenplay and the novel call him Nolan, but never Sean Nolan.

The scene, in which Coburn answers the name question with Sean, and then after a short reconsidering changes to John, probably means that he changed his Irish name into the English counterpart.
Maybe a homage to John Ford, an Irishman whose real name was Sean Aloysius O’Fearna or in English John Martin Feeney. In Ford’s film The Informer the surname of the Irish traitor, who sells his IRA friend to the British army, is Nolan.

(Marvin W. Bronson) #135

I’ve never been a fan of this one. For some reason, it’s always put me off. I suppose I should give it another day in court somewhere down the road, but…

(Reza) #136

One of the best westerns ever made
sergio did his best for this…
first he didn’t want to do this movie and the actors were not chosen by himself but his family and someone else did sth to force him to do this movie
he was angry first for this(he had some discords with Rod.S)…LOL but after some days he believed that Rod.S is really a nice actor…

(Stanton) #137

The film year started very well with an unintended re-watch of Giu la testa. Fitting for the new year’s day with all its fireworks.

DYS shows how much Leone has developed his directing style since FoD. It’s mostly excellently directed and it was a pure pleasure to watch. And both leads give fine performances.
Why it is still not in my top 10? Is it really less good than FoD and FaFDM?

I didn’t even thought this time that it is overlong in the first half, but what stays is that the final does not work that well, that the attack on the train is a comparatively weak scene. And the second big action scene, the ambush at the bridge, is also not well done, is indecisively directed. But the quick shoot-out in the first scene is excellent.

Btw the new Italian Blu seems to be a disappointment.

(Reza) #138

i think if this movie is not better than other sergio’s movies but is not lower than them ,too and great soundtrack it has 8)

(Stanton) #139

Yes, the score is absolutely great, no doubt about that.

Well, GBU and OUTW are definitely better, DYS is not on that level. But e.g. Sollima’s SWs, as good as they are, but they are no real match for this one. DYS contains dozens of scenes which top everything Sollima ever did. Only Corbucci and Hossein were able to reach that level. Not even Colizzi. And of the ones in our official top 10, Death Rides a Horse isn’t worth to lick the boots of DYS. :wink:

From that point of view it is still an underrated flic. Man, I really enjoyed it today. Even the faked 5.1 sound.

(John Welles) #140

It strikes me that Duck You Sucker! is the only Leone film that doesn’t have a definitive evaluative place within his body of work - it seems to excite a variety of reactions from just about everybody; certainly, no consensus has been built up around this troubling work.