The Secret History of Italian Cinema 4: Spaghetti Westerns at the 64th Mostra
The new series of screenings and restorations for the Secret History of Italian Cinema 4, part of the programme of the 64th Venice Film Festival (29thAugust – 8th September 2007), will be devoted to the Spaghetti Westerns.
As part of the permanent activities and cultural holdings that have been rediscovered and restored, the selection of the Spaghetti Westerns represents the ideal continuation of the work undertaken with the Secret History of Italian Cinema, started in 2004 and which has, for the past four years, successfully relaunched the ‘invisible’ Italian cinema, alongside the parallel initiatives of the Secret History of Asian Cinema in 2005 and Secret History of Russian Cinema in 2006.
The Secret History of Italian Cinema 4 - Spaghetti Westerns programme will be curated by Marco Giusti and Manlio Gomarasca, with L’Officina Filmclub (Paolo Luciani e Cristina Torelli), in collaboration with leading Italian and foreign scholars of films of this genre. It will include the screening of 40 feature films during the 64th Venice Film Festival, selected on the basis of the relationship between great importance and high degree of ‘invisibility’: films that have not been in circulation for at least a decade, and are here restored and reconstructed in their integral version.
As for the first edition of the Secret History of Italian Cinema in 2004, the “godfather” of this initiative will be the great American film-maker, Quentin Tarantino, a profound connoisseur and admirer of Italian cinema.
Alongside Tarantino, directors, producers, actors, script-writers, photographic directors and stuntmen featuring on prominent Spaghetti Westerns, will also be present in Venice.
The appeal of the spaghetti Western, more than 40 years after the release of Sergio Leone’s A fistful of dollars, seems as strong as ever, considering the homage dedicated it recently from different directors, such as Tarantino, and also Martin Scorsese, Johnnie To and John Woo in their films. Spaghetti Westerns are the films that have done most to influence the image of popular cinema in the past few decades, and which have founded one of the most important currents in “New Cinema” (and political cinema) Italy has ever known.
The homage of the 64th Venice Film Festival to Spaghetti Westerns does not end with the retrospective of the Secret History of Italian Cinema 4: as occurred in 2006 with Johnnie To’s Exiled and with Piotr Uklanski’s Summer Love, there will be many contemporary and new references to the spaghetti Western present this year, offered as world premieres in the various sections of the Festival. There will be no lack of surprises in this regard, bearing witness to the still fruitful influence of the “Italian-style Western”, an infinite, timeless genre, on many film-makers from different continents.
It is well-known that many of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite directors are Italian. The American director, scriptwriter, actor and producer is a fervent admirer of Sergio Leone’s cinema, to the point of including a special dedication to the Italian director in his recent successes, Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 2, as did Clint Eastwood in his Unforgiven (1992). Tarantino is also a profound connoisseur and keen “fan” of the films of Giorgio Stegani, Franco Rossetti, Ferdinando Baldi, Enzo G. Castellari, Nando Cicero, Sergio Corbucci, Giuseppe Rosati, Giancarlo Santi, Duccio Tessari, Giulio Petroni, Sergio Sollima, Giorgio Ferroni. His oeuvre is packed with homages and more or less veiled references to Italian Westerns. Several times, he has stated that his favourite film is Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo). It was he who suggested to his friend, Robert Rodriguez the name for the final episode of his El Mariachi trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), the latest in a long line of homages to Leone. All the films of the pulp trilogy for which Tarantino wrote the scripts (True Romance, 1993; Reservoir Dogs, 1992; Pulp Fiction, 1994) have a finale with a “tri-duel”, a classic Tarantino hoped he would one day use when he saw Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Il buono, il brutto e il cattivo) for the first time.
Sergio Leone is not alone in the list of Quentin Tarantino’s most-loved “Spaghetti Westerns”. He grew up with the Spaghetti Westerns at the time, seeing them in movie-theaters day after day. Venice will present his cult directors of Westerns, such as Sergio Corbucci, with his formidable A Dollar a Head (Navajo Joe) starring Burt Reynolds and The Cruel Ones (I crudeli), starring Joseph Cotten; Sergio Sollima with The Big Gundown (La resa dei conti), starring Tomas Milian and Lee Van Cleef; and Enzo Castellari with Django Rides Again (Keoma). Films to be “rediscovered”, Tarantino paid homage in Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 2, namely the Giulio Petroni with As Man to Man (Da uomo a uomo), starring John Philip Law and Lee Van Cleef (three asterisks from Tarantino), and the Giancarlo Santi of Hell’s Fighters (Il grande duello), a film that has not been seen in Italy for years and starring Lee Van Cleef, with great music by Luis Bacalov and the recently deceased Sergio Bardotti.
The programme will also present less well-known directors and films that are also of great interest amongst Tarantino’s favourite “Spaghetti Westerns”. Starting with El Desperado by Franco Rossetti, responsible with Piero Vivarelli for the screenplay of Sergio Corbucci’s Django and here director of his only Western. Or The Ugly Ones (The Bounty Killer) by Eugenio Martin, the first Western to star Tomas Milian as a tormented bad guy (noted by all as a film worth rediscovering, although highly appreciated at the time in Spain), and Giuseppe Vari’s Shoot The Living and Pray for The Dead (Prega il morto e ammazza il vivo) with Klaus Kinski. Plus Paolo Bianchini’s Machine Gun Killers (Quel caldo maledetto giorno della resa dei conti) with Robert Woods, Django, Prepare a Coffin (Preparati la bara) by Ferdinando Baldi and starring Terence Hill (discovered the year before for his musical talents in the successful Crazy of Gnarz Barkley), Nando Cicero’s Red Blood Yellow Gold (Professionisti per un massacre) with George Hilton, the classic Westerns starring Giuliano Gemma, Una pistola per Ringo by Duccio Tessari and Blood for a Silver Dollar (Un dollaro bucato) by Giorgio Ferroni. Dedicated to Tarantino too is the rediscovery of the most violent Western ever made, Cut-Throat Nine (Condenados a vivir) by Josè Romero Marchent with the very Italian Robert Hundar (Claudio Undari).
The films (in chronological order):
Le pistole non discutono (Bullets Don’t Argue, 1964) by Mario Caiano
Per un pugno di dollari (For a Fistfull of Dollars, 1964) by Sergio Leone
100.000 dollari per Ringo ($100,000 for Ringo, 1965) by Alberto De Martino
The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones, 1966) by Eugenio Martin
Un dollaro bucato (Blood for a Silver Dollar, 1965) by Giorgio Ferroni
Una pistola per Ringo (1965) by Duccio Tessari
Django (Django, 1966) by Sergio Corbucci
La resa dei conti (The Big Gundown, 1966) by Sergio Sollima
Navajo Joe (A Dollar a Head, 1966) by Sergio Corbucci
Ringo del Nebraska (1966) by Mario Bava and Antonio Román
Sugar Colt (Sugar Colt, 1966) by Franco Giraldi
Tre pistole contro Cesare (Three Golden Boys, 1966) by Enzo Peri
Un fiume di dollari (The Hills Run Red, 1966) by Carlo Lizzani
10 000 dollari per un massacro (Ten Thousand Dollars for a Massacre, 1967) by Romolo Guerrieri
Da uomo a uomo (As Man to Man, 1967) by Giulio Petroni
Dove si spara di più (Fury of Johnny Kid, 1967) by Gianni Puccini
El Desperado (Big Ripoff, 1967) by Franco Rossetti
I crudeli (The Cruel Ones, 1967) by Sergio Corbucci
I giorni dell’ira (Blood and Grit, 1967) by Tonino Valerii
La morte non conta i dollari (Death at Owell Rock, 1967) by Riccardo Freda
Professionisti per un massacro (Red Blood Yellow Gold, 1967) by Nando Cicero
Se sei vivo spara (Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot!, 1967) by Giulio Questi
Black Jack (1968) by Gianfranco Baldanello
Ognuno per sé (The Ruthless Four, 1968) by Giorgio Capitani
Preparati la bara (Django, Prepare a Coffin, 1968) by Ferdinando Baldi
Quel caldo maledetto giorno di fuoco (Machine Gun Killers, 1968) by Paolo Bianchini
La taglia è tua l’uomo l’ammazzo io (The Reward’s Yours… The Man’s Mine, 1969) by Edoardo Mulargia
Una lunga fila di croci (Hanging for Django, 1969) by Sergio Garrone
¡Mátalo! (Kill Him!, 1970) by Cesare Canevari
E dio disse a Caino (And God Said to Cain, 1970) by Antonio Margheriti
Lo chiamavano Trinità (My Name Is Trinity , 1970) - reconstructed definitive version - by Enzo Barboni
Vamos a matar companeros (Companeros, 1970) by Sergio Corbucci
La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (Death’s Dealer, 1971) by Pasquale Squitieri
Prega il morto e ammazza il vivo (Shoot The Living and Pray for The Dead, 1971) by Giuseppe Vari
Condenados a vivir (Cut-Throats Nine, 1972) by Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent
Il grande duello (Hell’s Fighters, 1972) by Giancarlo Santi
Il mio nome è nessuno (Lonesome Gun, 1973) by Tonino Valerii
I quattro dell’apocalisse (Four Gunmen of the Apocalypse, 1975) by Lucio Fulci
Keoma (Django Rides Again, 1976) by Enzo G. Castellari
Amore, piombo e furore (China 9, Liberty 37, 1978) by Monte Hellman