Face to Face / Faccia a faccia (Sergio Sollima, 1967)


(Stanton) #101

For me this whole bank robbing scene was an average one, weakly conceived in the screenplay and not well shot. But not as bad as the superfluous shoot-out in the middle of FtF.

The quality scenes are mostly at the beginning and at the ending, especially the scenes in the desert. In the middle the film mixes the good, the bad, the clumsy.

Still, I like it, and Volonte is great, and it has of course a fine soundtrack.


(Silvanito) #102

Great soundtrack and rotoscope credits :smiley:


(ION BRITTON) #103

I like the last scene in the desert which is well shot, but I think it’s not as stylish as other similar scenes in the genre. And generally I don’t find the whole movie stylish enough for a SW.
Another thing is that the score isn’t intense and fiery enough as for example in The Big Gundown or in Have a good funeral my friend Sartana will pay or other classics and it doesn’t elevate any scene in higher levels, in my opinion of course. Not bad and above average for sure, I just don’t think that it’s that memorable.
Finally, out of the three, Berger was the one I liked the most, the kind of character that fits him perfectly.


(Novecento) #104

The shoot-out in the middle does start with a great shot of the side of Milian’s head with the camera then rotating round to show the sheriff and his men coming from both sides towards him.

[quote=“ION BRITTON, post:103, topic:566”]I like the last scene in the desert which is well shot, but I think it’s not as stylish as other similar scenes in the genre. And generally I don’t find the whole movie stylish enough for a SW.
Another thing is that the score isn’t intense and fiery enough as for example in The Big Gundown or in Have a good funeral my friend Sartana will pay or other classics and it doesn’t elevate any scene in higher levels, in my opinion of course. Not bad and above average for sure, I just don’t think that it’s that memorable.[/quote]

Yup, my sentiments too.


(Stanton) #105

Ahh, I don’t remember, but the following shootout was poor, and with added pretentiousness by these 2 well established citizens watching it like a game. Nice idea, but doesn’t make any sense in the context of the film.

I think I will watch FTF again in the next weeks, and see what I think then.


(Bill san Antonio) #106

Maybe little bit out of the context of the rest of the film but not that much as the widow’s ranch scene in TBG. I like the scene anyhow and it’s pure political Sollima scene, rich capitalists are just watching the show as hired killers are doing the dirty work.


(Stanton) #107

The widow’s ranch scene is the main point why TBG ain’t one of the best for me. Unnecessary and much, much too long. It destroys the film’s rhythm.


(skrilla) #108

does anyone know where to find a good cut of this? The links in the first few posts for the Japan version don’t seem to be available anymore?
thanks!


(Jude) #109

At last I had a chance to watch this film. I really enjoyed this one, time flew by with this film, but still you have a time to think about the characters and how they change during the film. Milian and Volonte both do great roles, especially Volonte, his character was something that I hadn’t seen in a SW movie before so that made it so special to me. Once again Ennio Morricone proves his skills, amazing soundtrack. I had already seen The Big Gundown from Sollima and also loved it, these both are his best movies.

4 stars out of 5.


(John Welles) #110

“Face to Face” (1967), directed by Sergio Sollima, who made only three Spaghetti Westerns, all now considered classic in the genre, the other two being “The Big Gundown” (1966) and “Run Man, Run” (1968), is a great Western, Spaghetti or otherwise, with a trio of great performances from Gian Maria Volonté, Tomas Milian and William Berger.

The plot, an allegory on the rise of Fascism in Europe, concerns a sickly teacher from New England called Brad Fletcher (Volonté), who is kidnapped by by a wounded outlaw, Solomon “Beauregard” Bennet (Milian), and they form a friendship, and eventually Fletcher joins Bennet’s gang, which unleashes Fletcher’s inner “heart of darkness”, while Bennet starts to question his role as a bandit.

With a potent script by Sergio Donati and himself, Sollima loads the screen with great action scenes, gunfights and duels, all the while showcasing Volonté’s brilliant performance, as his character completely transforms for the wore, as Milian’s role shows him going the exact opposite way. It is a stark tale of contrast, powered by an epic Ennio Morricone score (conducted by a composer of not inconsiderable talent, Bruno Nicolai), grand direction, and photography (by Emilio Foriscot and Rafael Pacheco) and editing (by Eugenio Alabiso), with art direction by Carlo Simi, who worked on Sergio Leone’s masterly “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966). A Spaghetti masterpiece, which is one for the Top 10 Western lists.


(Andy) #111

[quote=“John Welles, post:110, topic:566”]“Face to Face” (1967), directed by Sergio Sollima, who made only three Spaghetti Westerns, all now considered classic in the genre, the other two being “The Big Gundown” (1966) and “Run Man, Run” (1968), is a great Western, Spaghetti or otherwise, with a trio of great performances from Gian Maria Volonté, Tomas Milian and William Berger.

The plot, an allegory on the rise of Fascism in Europe, concerns a sickly teacher from New England called Brad Fletcher (Volonté), who is kidnapped by by a wounded outlaw, Solomon “Beauregard” Bennet (Milian), and they form a friendship, and eventually Fletcher joins Bennet’s gang, which unleashes Fletcher’s inner “heart of darkness”, while Bennet starts to question his role as a bandit.

With a potent script by Sergio Donati and himself, Sollima loads the screen with great action scenes, gunfights and duels, all the while showcasing Volonté’s brilliant performance, as his character completely transforms for the wore, as Milian’s role shows him going the exact opposite way. It is a stark tale of contrast, powered by an epic Ennio Morricone score (conducted by a composer of not inconsiderable talent, Bruno Nicolai), grand direction, and photography (by Emilio Foriscot and Rafael Pacheco) and editing (by Eugenio Alabiso), with art direction by Carlo Simi, who worked on Sergio Leone’s masterly “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966). A Spaghetti masterpiece, which is one for the Top 10 Western lists.[/quote]

Very nice review :slight_smile:


(John Welles) #112

Thank you Ghost of Sartana - what do you think of the film?


(Andy) #113

This is definitely one of my favourites. Any western with Volonte and Milian I love to see. I like how the Fletcher character’s gradual exposure to the wild west brings out the wildness in himself that was perhaps repressed in his life as a teacher. Also, his sickness and resulting vulnerability were probably contributing factors as he became more desperate and acting on instinct. The Beauregard character is also quite interesting to see develop. I think I enjoyed the final desert scenes the most. Overall I think this is a great Spaghetti Western, perhaps a bit underrated, and is in my top 20. I gave it 5 stars.


(TheBigSmokedown) #114

I gave this one five stars as it’s one of my favourites. I think the two leads are marvellous, and respectively turn in amongst their finest performances for this film. Refreshingly, Milian doesn’t play an outrageous but loveable Mexican; his character is more contemplative than he manages in the other two Sollima films, The Big Gundown and Run, Man, Run. Of course, Volonte also sparkles, and it’s great to watch his character’s interaction with Milian’s as they evolve and mirror one another.

The plot of the film is like a runaway train, gathering speed and heading towards an explosive conclusion. I love the way the tension builds, and I think its helped along wonderfully by Morricone’s relentless score. Every time I heard that riff it was like an alarm bell telling me to get ready for some more violent thrills.

On that note, I think the film’s focus on violence and its effects is both interesting and powerful. I like that Sollima recognises the value of his own message and doesn’t confuse his film by introducing comedy, as he did in his other spaghetti westerns. I don’t have anything against comedy per se, and I love his other westerns, but I think Face To Face needed to be told straight.

Perhaps there were some parts of the film which could have been filmed with more style, but if there were then I was too wrapped up in the story to notice. I would also have to argue that when the film is stylish it is very stylish indeed, which should make up for any shortfalls elsewhere.


(Stanton) #115

I have rewatched FtF also recently. And it was again an entertaining way to spend 2 hours.
I even liked Berger a bit more in his role this time (but still think that Lee van Clef would have been the perfect choice), but the film has still a lot of problems for me. In both departments style and content.

There isn’t any brilliance in FtF (nor in any other Sollima film I have seen), but many well made scenes alternating with some weaker material. The beginning and the ending in the desert are the best parts, but in-between the film too often stumbles.

What John W has said above, that the “plot is an allegory on the rise of Fascism in Europe”, is most likely a good key to interpret the film. But I don’t think that FtF succeedes in developing this themes. Or at least only in parts. I still say that the (intended) character development is partly a bit sloppy and leaves me back with several unanswered questions.

Spoiler alert:

The strongest character is of course Brad Fletcher, and here the film is at best in showing him changing. But what had happened to his disease (lung tuberculosis I assume)? From one moment to the next it simply disappears, and this is a big fault for a film with “ambitions”.

Beuregard on the other hand is never shown as the ruthless outlaw he is supposed to be. There is one scene where he tries to shoot Brad after his escape, but why should he? One scene before he doesn’t shoot the other deputies, who represent in their brutish behaviour an unjust law, and are (unlike Brad) for his escape a threat.
Beau’s gang isn’t characterised enough to justify the screentime they have, and at he same moment there is too much screentime spent for these guys only to have them all shot during the bank robbery.

And there is this gang member Zachary. When he and Beau met in the prison he still is in sympahty with Beau, but when we meet him next he leads the law mob to the outlaw refuge. But not by threat, no, he suddenly becomes without any explanation not only the leader of the mob, he is also the most fanatic of them all in his bloodthirst and his will to kill all his former friends.

And really, why should Beau shoot Fletcher at the end and spare Siringo? Fletcher didn’t do any bad to him and just was ready to give his live together with Beau in order to save the refugees, while Siringo has betrayed him and is responsible for the death of most of his friends.

And unfortunately there are more things which are too crude for a film which wants to be clever. Sollima has said there was a much longer version intended, maybe up to 135 min. I would like to see it.

All in all FtF is despite its flaws and thanks to Volonte, Morricone and some good directing an entertaining movie, and is still a 7/10 film.


(John Welles) #116

I can appriciate your points Stanton (especially Volonté’s dissapearing tuberculosis), but I liked it perhaps because of the trio of stars, the music and the stylish flourishes and let some of the weaker parts (such as Milian’s rather limited character development, that is never allowed fully to flower simply because we only here he is a fearsome bandit rather than see it, a point Alex Cox also raises in his review of it, that is quite like yours) go by.

Maybe I enjoy inspite of its deficencies and can tolerate them more than you (but that isn’t a slight against you Stanton). I may even like it more if I saw an uncut version, because the cut I watched was 91 minutes and I know for sure it skips a scene when Volonté and Milian have a duel afer Volonté bashes that guy’s head against the rock.


(Novecento) #117

Ooh, interesting :o! I’ve never thought much of “Face to Face”, but maybe a 135 minute version would do something to change that.


(John Welles) #118

I agree, that would be interesting to see, and might clear up some of its flaws.


(I love you M.E. Kay) #119

What do you mean it disappears? It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but if I remember correctly the two things that tell us that Brad is sick is the fact they talk about it in the beginning and that he looks as pale as a corpse. They do stop talking about it, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t sick anymore.


(Stanton) #120

He’s a sick man in the beginning. When he tries to help the wounded Milian, the effort is too much for his badly affected health and he coughs so much that you think he dies the next moment. Later on he jumps around just like a young god.
I’m not an expert, but I think Tuberculosis wasn’t curable then. The only thing you could do was live in an environment (Davos is such a place) in which the better air helps you to slow down the course of disease. And of course physical rest was very important.

But I can live with such a lapse in a story if it is the only one. The bigger problem is that I don’t buy Fletcher’s change as it is shown in the film. And this is what most people say that it is what the film’s about.
Curious, but I think think that Volonte plays every part very well, only the parts do not connect.

I can easily accept that a relatively peaceful man can become under special conditions in a different environment a sadistic killer. But the whimsical Fletcher of the beginning wouldn’t fit in that role as leader, but only as a fellow-runner.
Fletcher as we see him in the 2nd half of the film would have been a powerful man at the university too. Only using different weapons. The weapons of the mind.

And then if there should really have been a mutual fascination between Beau and Fletcher, then frankly said, I don’t see it.
I only see an intellectual inquisitiveness with which Fletcher looks at Beau, while Beau watches Fletcher like a strange curiosity. I can imagine respect between the 2, but not fascination.

And then Beau is never a ruthless killer. He seems just to be a nice and reasonable outcast living amongst a bunch of other outcasts in a bandit hideout. And the community of these outcasts is mostly shown in a more romantic way as a big family, and never as a real thread for anyone.