Giuliano Gemma's Amazing Draw (Box Office)


(Romaine Fielding) #1

This weekend I was looking again at an appendix in Bert Fridlund’s book Spaghetti Westerns: A Thematic Analysis in which he lists the top grossing Italian Westerns from 1964-1975 (He basically lists the top 47 films).
Gemma did not make it into the top 10. Those spots were taken by either Leone films, Trinity films and their spawn, or Red Sun.
The highest Gemma achieved was 13th with Day of Anger/1966.
But I noticed some other things that made a (perhaps) useful comparison between him and Tomas Milian and Franco Nero.
None of Milian’s films or Nero’s films made it into the top 10 either. But…ALL of Gemma’s films made during this period were top grossing films. Not so with Milian or Nero.
Here is a list of Gemma’s films from 1965-1974 along with their rankings:
13th Day of Anger/67
15th The White, the Yellow & the Black/74
19th One Silver Dollar/65
20th Adios Gringo/65
25th A Pistol for Ringo/65
26th Return of Ringo/65
27th Fort Yuma Gold/66
28th The Price of Power/69
30th Arizona Colt/66
32nd Alive or Preferably Dead/69
37th And For a Roof a Sky Full of Stars/68
38th Ben & Charlie/72
39th Wanted/67
43rd Long Days of Vengeance/67

So, ALL 14 of Gemma’s films made during this period made good money.
Nero had only 6 films in the top 47 & Milian had only 7 films.
But here’s (to me) the kicker: in MOST of Gemma’s 14 films, he was the ONLY major star.
He co-starred with Van Cleef in Day of Anger & with Eli Wallach and Tomas Milian in The White, The Yellow & The Black (Tomas Milian should have retired immediately after making this film and spent the rest of his life seeking out and destroying every known print). Gemma also co-starred with George Eastman in Ben & Charlie and with Nino Benvenuti in Alive or Preferably Dead but they were not, I believe, on par with the other actors mentioned here.

So…Gemma, BY HIMSELF, propelled 10 or more of his films into the top grossers. Nero shared billing with top co-stars in 2 of his 6 top grossing films and Milian had heavyweight co-stars in 4 of his 7 top grossing films.

Don’t know if my analysis is valid but I found this interesting and thought others might too.


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #2

Yeah its true. Gemma was by far the most popular SW star in Italy, especially during the early years 65-68. Only Terence Hill can compare, and Nero and Milian were more popular overall because of their participation in other genre’s, but in SW’s Gemma was box office king.

I do not think this amazing popularity carried over to other countries however. I don’t have the numbers to support this, but I believe countries like Germany, Netherlands, France etc…, they prefered other actors.


(Romaine Fielding) #3

I was wondering if that was why he was unable to crack the top 10. Most of the films in the top 10 seemed to have had a broader international appeal…

I wonder why he was less of a draw (if this is the case) outside of Italy while others did better? For my part I don’t like "pretty boy’ types but I love Gemma. I don’t care much for most of his films but the Ringo films, Day Of Anger & Price of Power are among my favorites.


(Hud) #4

[quote=“Romaine Fielding, post:1, topic:871”]But here’s (to me) the kicker: in MOST of Gemma’s 14 films, he was the ONLY major star.
He co-starred with Van Cleef in Day of Anger & with Eli Wallach and Tomas Milian in The White, The Yellow & The Black (Tomas Milian should have retired immediately after making this film and spent the rest of his life seeking out and destroying every known print).[/quote]

Thanks for your analysis Romaine, but can you explain your wish of having this entertaining (at least for big kids like me) movie destroyed - just after pointing out it was also one of the most popular in the genre? Ah, these politically correct times… :stuck_out_tongue:


(Romaine Fielding) #5

Ahh. You misunderstand. I am most certainly not an enforcer of political correctness. I don’t think I could be, and also love many of the things I love about Spaghettis. I didn’t mean for it to be literally destroyed and would never advocate for that. I was trying to be funny. I just meant that I thought Tomas Milian’s performance was awful. I don’t mind that he was cast as a Japanese but I did not think he was funny or clever in the role. I think its his worst performance. But, yeah, I do think it’s that bad. Just, of course, my opinion.
Just because I don’t like the film very much doesn’t mean that I fault others for liking it. Everybody likes things for differing reasons. If people did not have different tastes we would not have the great varieties in life to choose from that we do.
You are right, the fact that it was so popular and successful shows that my opinion is in the minority.


(Hud) #6

[quote=“Romaine Fielding, post:5, topic:871”]Ahh. You misunderstand. I am most certainly not an enforcer of political correctness. I don’t think I could be, and also love many of the things I love about Spaghettis. I didn’t mean for it to be literally destroyed and would never advocate for that. I was trying to be funny. I just meant that I thought Tomas Milian’s performance was awful. I don’t mind that he was cast as a Japanese but I did not think he was funny or clever in the role. I think its his worst performance. But, yeah, I do think it’s that bad. Just, of course, my opinion.
Just because I don’t like the film very much doesn’t mean that I fault others for liking it. Everybody likes things for differing reasons. If people did not have different tastes we would not have the great varieties in life to choose from that we do.
You are right, the fact that it was so popular and successful shows that my opinion is in the minority.[/quote]
I believe I got some of the of humor in your point and am not that annoyed, I’d just hate having this fun movie destroyed… On the other hand I’m happy you happened to bring up the fact that it was a hit in its countries of origin (Spain, Italy) and at least commercially not the fiasco it’s often taken for.

I don’t think your low opinion of the movie is in the minority and don’t actually have a problem with people disliking its goofy jokes. My longstanding “bias” is mainly a reaction to the criticisms of “should know better” sources (Frayling’s Leone book, the Corbucci bios of Anchor Bay & BU dvds, etc) which are either inaccurate or overly PC to see the movie for what it is, a carefree and dumb but basically harmless and even anti-racist SW comedy…


(Romaine Fielding) #7

[quote=“Hud, post:6, topic:871”]I believe I got some of the of humor in your point and am not that annoyed, I’d just hate having this fun movie destroyed… On the other hand I’m happy you happened to bring up the fact that it was a hit in its countries of origin (Spain, Italy) and at least commercially not the fiasco it’s often taken for.

I don’t think your low opinion of the movie is in the minority and don’t actually have a problem with people disliking its goofy jokes. My longstanding “bias” is mainly a reaction to the criticisms of “should know better” sources (Frayling’s Leone book, the Corbucci bios of Anchor Bay & BU dvds, etc) which are either inaccurate or overly PC to see the movie for what it is, a carefree and dumb but basically harmless and even anti-racist SW comedy…[/quote]

I understand what you are saying.

Corbucci was a strange and varied director. His movies are hard to think about as a whole. I’ve never seen Sonny & Jed or What Am I Doing In The Middle Of The Revolution
I like most of his films, even Minnesota Clay, which is similar to American westerns but still Spaghetti enough for me.