Minnesota Clay (Sergio Corbucci, 1964)

(Stanton) #121

Cox got several things wrong, and boldly speculates about this and that.

(John Welles) #122

I know he did, but it is the only dedicated book on Spaghetti Westerns I have, so I tend to rely on it more than perhaps I should. Anyhow, I wouldn’t repeat his somewhat wild speculations as fact in one of my reviews.

(scherpschutter) #123

PIC: Visible now

COX and the ENDING: It’s true, he speculates a lot. Can’t find any conclusive evidence, but it seems more logical that the shorter version is the original one, and the longer one the imposed one. However, Giusti says the Italian version runs 90 minutes, the Spanish version only 86.

(Stanton) #124

Bruckner and Anica.It are opting for 87 (or 86). And the 91 min for the German version, the happy one for the not so blind.

(scherpschutter) #125

Always thought it was like this. And like I said: seems more logical (Giusti is not a freak as far as running times are concerned)

(John Welles) #126

I have now altered the review; it says that the original ending was the unhappy one.

(Stanton) #127

Maybe Jonathan can shed some more light on this.

(JonathanCorbett) #128

As far as I’m aware Alex Cox is right: I don’t know if it was imposed by the production but the happy ending is the original one, regularly dubbed and, contrary to what happened in other cases, with the participation of all the actors. The camera take changes, but actually there is no pulling backwards and away from Clay, and among other things in the truncated version there’s a small manipulation (the daughter crying for help has not been dubbed in English).

John Welles I share your opinion on the romantic subplot, but why you and scherpschutter (see Review A) are so annoyed by the presence of the lovely Diana Martin? Feminine charm is not only expressed through sensuality! :wink:

(Stanton) #129

What version is on the Italian DVD?

(JonathanCorbett) #130

The longer one.

(Stanton) #131

Then Anica.It is again wrong and the short version was only shown in Spain and maybe in the USA.

Question is which version Corbucci wanted.
The longer ending doesn’t look very Corbucciish.

(scherpschutter) #132

[quote=“Stanton, post:131, topic:454”]Then Anica.It is again wrong and the short version was only shown in Spain and maybe in the USA.

Question is which version Corbucci wanted.
The longer ending doesn’t look very Corbucciish.[/quote]

I’m not sure. Corbucci loved samurai movies, not only Yojimbo. In many samurai movies, not only the Zato Ichi movies about the blind samurai, there’s a scene in which the samurai throws something in the air (a stick, a blanket etc.) and cuts it rapidly into pieces, without looking up. Such a scene is often set after an injury or an incident which prevented the samurai from using his sword. The message of such a scene is: the samurai is back in good shape, and he’s so proficient that he can use his sword with utmostprecision without looking. The final scene of Minnesota Clay is reminiscent of such a samurai scene.

(AngelFace) #133

Ok, I has to see this one! Is the DVD available on Amazon.com about the best bet for an English speaker?

(AngelFace) #134

This movie feels like a proper Spaghetti Western to me. It doesn’t feel like a missing link or pre- Fistfull of Dollars or an attempt to produce a pretend American western. In fact, I think I have seen Gemma westerns from '65 and beyond which are more deliberately American in style despite their Spaghetti elements.

I suppose what this film isn’t is a fully formed Corbucci movie. Whereas Leone arrived fully formed as “Leone” with Fistful, Corbucci still needs a couple of more attempts before he produces something completely in his own style with Django. I would say, however, that if this movie was indeed produced before Corbucci had seen Fistful he has more or less independently arrived at the Spaghetti Western at the same time as Leone. I think some criticism of this film as not being “spaghetti” enough is actually criticsing it for not being “Corbucci” enough. If another director had made this in '64 it would seem more remarkable.

As to the film itself, it is certainly a mix of good and bad. Some things that work and some things that don’t. On the negative side I would certainly mention the bland young female character, the comedy juvenile lead, the whole “romance” and the lackluster attack on the farmhouse. On the plus we have a femme fatale, a cool looking villain, great costumes and a crippled hero.

It is interesting how this film pre-figures Django but Corbucci still has to spell everything out. For example, suppose the film skipped the entirely unnecessary and perfunctory prison camp escape and began with Minnesota Clay riding in on the wagon ambush? Here rather than the mysterious Django appearing and saving Maria we would have the mysterious Clay appearing and saving Estella. It is exactly the elimination of such traditional details and explanations that makes Django fascinating. We never find out what exactly happened to Mercedes Zaro.

The film is well cast, Cameron Mitchell is a proper actor and the film benefits greatly from his voice. I think many of these films were rendered bland and generic by the dubbing and the performance replacement of some voice actor dubbing the lead into English. I also liked George Riviere as the villain but I thought his part was a bit under developed. His gang looked good too, particularly the dandyish character, but I find it hard to see Gino Pernice as anything other than Brother Jonathan in Django!

The night time climax is great and I think when you watch it there can be no doubt that this is a real spaghetti western. It makes me think a little of Django the Bastard.

As to the ending? Well the “international version” with the “sad” ending looks like some foreign editor crudely freeze-framed the film to give it a sad ending in line with later expectations of what a spaghetti western would be? I wonder if this is correct and if this version comes from the post- Fistful world?

The Italian ending to me is pretty ridiculous. It takes so much from the film and I don’t really understand what Clay means when he says “I hadn’t the heart to tell them…” before he rides off. Does it mean he won’t be back? And if not, why not? It doesn’t make sense!

I think we need a high quality KOCH DVD of this, maybe back to back with Johnny Oro which is due a reappraisal! Now to find Massacre at Grand Canyon!

(chameleon) #135

I’ve always liked Minnesota Clay, and imo C. Mitchel was perfect as the aging gunfighter.

(John Welles) #136

Spot on review AngelFace - although if you read this thread, you will see there is some doubt as to which ending is the one Corbucci actually intended.

(AngelFace) #137

Is there any evidence though that the happy ending is not Corbucci’s choice? To me the sad ending looks like a crude distributor job!

(Stanton) #138

For me the sad ending looks absolutely like the correct ending. The way it is shot it is clear that he is dead.The happy ending on the other hand looks exactly like a producers choice.

(scherpschutter) #139

I’m not sure finding Massacre at Grand Canyon will make AngelFace happy …

(Stanton) #140

Not really.
Even in The White, the Yellow, the Black is more Corbucci than in the Grand Canyon massacre.