Minnesota Clay (Sergio Corbucci, 1964)


(ModernDjango) #81

Just saw this for the first time and it was better than I thought it would be. Didn’t have the badassness and style of later Corbucci films, but I liked the ending a lot.

However, having grown up in Minnesota and playing with clay as a child, at times even Minnesota clay (more often Wisconsin clay), I must say that I was a little disappointed that in this movie there was no Minnesota and no clay to be found. Still, I must admit Minnesota Clay is a cool sounding name – just felt a bit like false advertising. Especially when Curbucci proved with his next film, Django, that he is the master of clay!


(Chris_Casey) #82

[quote=“ModernDjango, post:81, topic:454”]Just saw this for the first time and it was better than I thought it would be. Didn’t have the badassness and style of later Corbucci films, but I liked the ending a lot.

However, having grown up in Minnesota and playing with clay as a child, at times even Minnesota clay (more often Wisconsin clay), I must say that I was a little disappointed that in this movie there was no Minnesota and no clay to be found. Still, I must admit Minnesota Clay is a cool sounding name – just felt a bit like false advertising. Especially when Curbucci proved with his next film, Django, that he is the master of clay![/quote]

Ha ha!
I get --and really appreciate–the joke, amigo.
But, you do realize that Cameron Mitchell’s character’s name is Minnesota Clay, right?
I mean…I figure you knew that…but, hey…you never know…
It is still a bit funny, though, isn’t it? Kind of like having a pistolero named Wisconsin Steve, or Pennsylvania Bob. ;D

I actually like this movie quite a bit.
I agree that it lacks the style of Corbucci’s later efforts; but, it is a pretty good flick, nonetheless.


(Hoover Valentine) #83

Watched this the other day and really enjoyed it. Thought it had a good mix of spaghetti and classic hollywood tone. Good middle ground between the genres.


(ModernDjango) #84

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:82, topic:454”]Ha ha!
I get --and really appreciate–the joke, amigo.
But, you do realize that Cameron Mitchell’s character’s name is Minnesota Clay, right?
I mean…I figure you knew that…but, hey…you never know…
It is still a bit funny, though, isn’t it? Kind of like having a pistolero named Wisconsin Steve, or Pennsylvania Bob. ;D

I actually like this movie quite a bit.
I agree that it lacks the style of Corbucci’s later efforts; but, it is a pretty good flick, nonetheless.[/quote]

Haha, yeah, I know it is the character’s name. I was just kind of hoping for some real Minnesota clay. It is a cool name, and title, regardless. :slight_smile:


(Chris_Casey) #85

I agree completely! That is why it is actually one of my favorites.

:wink: ;D


(Hoover Valentine) #86

Yeah, it is now one of my favs too. This one of Corbucci’s best.


(sartana1968) #87

the sad ending it’s much better than great silence


(Hoover Valentine) #88

I don’t know if I would say that, great silence has one of the best endings in movie history. The sad ending of clay is the one I saw. Haven’t seen the happy one. I think it may be an extra on the disc I have.


(Novecento) #89

[quote=“The Stranger, post:80, topic:454”]Cover of the new DVD by Gaumont (Release date: January 20, 2011)

[/quote]

Nice to see they released it. However, French audio only I think.

I’m still waiting for Hossein’s “The Taste of Violence” - that merited a release way more than this.


(scherpschutter) #90

Odd cover design, looks more like a book than a DVD


(John Welles) #91

Minnesota Clay (1964) was one of the earliest Spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Corbucci; in two years time he would make the iconic and notorious Django and in 1968, he made the best non-Sergio Leone Spaghetti: The Great Silence. But this is early days for the director, before cynicism and boredom seeped into his love of making Westerns. Shot around the same time as Leone’s groundbreaking A Fistful of Dollars (1964), but released later, it shares the two gangs warring over a town theme, as well as the bandits being separated by race: the white, American Fox (Georges Riviere) and the Mexican Ortiz (Fernando Sancho); but this is the only similarity (which had been copied from Akira Kurosawa’s samurai film Yojimbo [1961], which in turn had been inspired by the pulp writings of the brilliant Dashiell Hammett and his novel “The Glass Key” [1931]) and while nowhere near the greatness of Leone’s Western, this is still a remarkable good movie.

The plot (by Adriano Bolzoni and Corbucci) though, is clichéd ridden: Minnesota Clay (Cameron Mitchell) escapes from prison after being framed by the devious Fox; returning to his hometown, Clay discovers that it is overrun by two gangs: Fox’s and Ortiz’s and then proceeds to clear the place up, even though his eyesight is failing terribly.

However, despite these script constraints, Corbucci directs some brilliant action, in particularly the climatic gunfight in the dark. He seems to be having fun with scenes like this, and it’s not hard to see why. Riviere and Sancho honourably excused, the acting is mostly very poor. Mitchell is variable throughout, although his performance during the finale is very good. The music by Piero Piccioni is however, excellent and the photography by Jose Fernandz Aguayo is also pretty good. It may be finally floored, but this is still a worthy addition to the Spaghetti Western genre.


(scherpschutter) #92

Good work again

Any news on the (here we go) Django Kill (If you live … shoot!) review for the database front ?


(John Welles) #93

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:92, topic:454”]Good work again

Any news on the (here we go) Django Kill (If you live … shoot!) review for the database front ?[/quote]
Thanks.

As for the review, I’ve been busey this week, so I’m hoping to put up the Django Kill! SWDB review up this weekend.


(Chris_Casey) #94

Yojimbo was based on Hammett’s RED HARVEST not THE GLASS KEY. However, there are a couple of scenes in Kurosawa’s film that are similar to scenes in the 1942 film version of THE GLASS KEY starring Alan Ladd.
The misinformation about the plot source for YOJIMBO…and by extension A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS…has been passed down from source to source for years.
But, if you have read Hammett’s books, you will know that THE GLASS KEY has very little to do with the plot of these films…and RED HARVEST has everything to do with them.


(John Welles) #95

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:94, topic:454”]Yojimbo was based on Hammett’s RED HARVEST not THE GLASS KEY. However, there are a couple of scenes in Kurosawa’s film that are similar to scenes in the 1942 film version of THE GLASS KEY starring Alan Ladd.
The misinformation about the plot source for YOJIMBO…and by extension A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS…has been passed down from source to source for years.
But, if you have read Hammett’s books, you will know that THE GLASS KEY has very little to do with the plot of these films…and RED HARVEST has everything to do with them.[/quote]
I have read both books, and you’re right, I should have mentioned Red Harvest. But The Glass Key does share some similarites with Yojimbo, in particular the beating up scene that is present in both films.


(MrE2Me) #96

I agree almost completely with Scherpschutter’s excellent review, though I think Rivière is actually quite good as the main baddie here. (The scene where he makes Estella swear on a Bible, then riddles her with bullets, stands out in particular.) He, the always great Sancho (I swear that guy’s been in 75% of the SWs I’ve seen - with good reason) and the smoldering hot Ethel Rojo (why the hell wasn’t she in more of these?!) made the film for me. Mitchell’s character was interesting - I like having an unconventional lead sometimes - but I’m not sold on his performance. I just didn’t really care about him enough. The young couple were indeed awful. Could they have been less interesting? (Ditto the music. One of the least memorable scores I’ve heard during my SW spree.)

A brief aside: I’m an animal lover, and detest animal cruelty, but horse falls don’t usually bother me much - I suppose we just see so many of them that we grow immune. However, I did notice in the beginning of this film one of the most brutal horse falls to date, when the old man gets killed. The poor thing stays down on its neck for ages, and doesn’t look like it’ll be getting back up anytime soon. :frowning:

On a lighter note, let’s all drink to the stunning Rojo:

Seriously, why did she not become a poster girl for SWs? A missed opportunity, if ever there was one.

Back on-topic: the film’s place in SW history intrigues me, too. In fact, since I’m surrounded by SW experts here, I may as well ask: what DO you guys consider to be the elements that separate a “traditional” western from a spaghetti? I notice lots of complaints that this felt too American, and I’m curious what you mean by that. Is it just plot elements, American leads, or what? Like, I understand the comment in reference to Hellbenders, which is soaked in American-specific stuff. But this one, not so much. Educate me!


(JonathanCorbett) #97

I agree, great sequence!

The strength of the alternate/unhappy ending is undeniable, but it’s important to consider is not the original one.


(scherpschutter) #98

@ MrE2Me

American westerns are basically about redemption. The traditional American western hero, is a man who does what a man’s gotta do, out of a sense of duty or righteousness. He often is a man with a shady past - a scoundrel, a man framed for a crime he did not commit, a gunslinger, a hired gun - who redeems himself by helping a community, or a family threatened by a peril they cannot face by themselves. Typical American westerns with redemptive themes are Stagecoach (John Wayne’s Ringo helping the stagecoach passengers who initially look down on him, gaining their respect in the process), Shane or Pale Rider. As a result, the essential unit in the American West, is the community, or – more in general – society. The western hero may be a loner, an outsider, but deep in his heart he’s an insider, therefore he feels he must do his duty for society. Shane helps the poor and nearly defenseless settlers against the ruthless and powerful rancher and his hired killers etc. Traditional American western express a positive feeling about progress: the history of the West, is often seen as the coming of civilization in a savage land. The individual (the outsider) may help, but the real driving force behind this progress, is the community. (Later, more critical western started questioning these ideas: in High Noon the ‘community’ is questioned, in The Wild Bunch or Little Big Man, the idea of ‘history = progress’ is under fire)

Italian westerns are basically about revenge. The hero, or anti-hero is not driven by a sense of duty or righteousness, but by anger. Blood calls for Blood. He’s either a egocentric loner without a real past (No Name), a man who lives in a sort of moral vacuum, or the typical avenger (Django), a man whose family was wiped out when he was far, far away, and who now wants to get even with the murdering scum. The essential unit in the Italian western, therefor is the family, or the clan. The hero or anti-hero really is an outsider, he has some sympathy for some members of the community (especially when they are outsiders, like the Holy Family in Fistful, or the prostitute in Django), but in general he looks down on the community (or society) and its dignitaries (bankers, politicians, even sheriffs).

Early spaghetti western heroes such as Gary O’Hara (One silver Dollar) or Minnesota Clay show characteristics of the Italian western hero (just look how swift they are with the gun), but they also still have a strong sense of duty. The community is very important in One Silver Dollar, and Minnesota Clay is very concerned about his daughter: he redeems himself by helping her and the people she has lived with while he was away.


(Stanton) #99

And about greed. The 2nd important motivation for a SW hero from FoD onwards


(scherpschutter) #100

Okay, certainly an essential factor too