The Mercenary / A Professional Gun / Il mercenario (Sergio Corbucci, 1968)


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #241

I hope its not the public domain version “A Professional Gun”.


(Novecento) #242

I just checked it out. It’s in English and appears to be widescreen. The quality is not too bad at all, although to my eye and without making a direct comparison, it does not appear to be up to the standards of the recent Koch release for example.


(Sanjuro) #243

Yep, the Good the Bad & the Ugly. Instead of ending with the hero riding away right after the big showdown (as in FoD & FaFDM), the film doesn’t end till several minutes afterwards while Blondie settles up with Tuco. It’s not as long a final chapter as in Mercenario, but set the same formula which Corbucci followed: dispose of the main villain in the three-way showdown, then let the two main protagonists settle scores with each other before going their separate ways.


(Stanton) #244

No, that’s not the same.

Leone has in his Dollar trilogy a short segment after the final duel.
In FOD and FaFDM one of the minor baddies is still alive and in GBU Tuco has once more to put his head into the noose.
The film has had his climax, the audience has applauded and gets a short encore. This was probably also never done before, but we have to check.

But Il mercenario goes further.
Not only that there was a final Leone-like duel in an arena, but also the flashback structure is closed, and this also should indicate the end of the film. But instead Corbucci destroys what up to this point seems to be the logical narrative structure and simply starts the film again. With the biggest shoot-out still to come. And after this, when then the (seemingly) final dialogue between Nero and Musante had happened (I have a dream), this very dialogue which should (and could) normally have happened after the l’arena sequence, then Corbucci really starts an ending with the typical closing music and the camera following in a total the vanishing rider. But the pan shot which follows the rider only catches a group of men with rifles and the film starts once again.
And not till then the real ending follows. (Dream, but with your eyes open)

That is all absolutely brilliant in my eyes. And is brilliantly filmed.

I have read a contemporary critic in which is said that the audience at these points had stood up from their seats and started to leave the cinema, only to realise that the film is not over, and have to sit down again.
I like it to imagine this.


(Sanjuro) #245

[quote=“Stanton, post:244, topic:177”]Leone has in his Dollar trilogy a short segment after the final duel.
In FOD and FaFDM one of the minor baddies is still alive and in GBU Tuco has once more to put his head into the noose.
The film has had his climax, the audience has applauded and gets a short encore. This was probably also never done before, but we have to check.[/quote]

Actually the motif where, after the big climax & when the film appears to be ending, a minor baddie/henchman unexpectedly appears for a final fight, as in FaFDM & right at the end of Mercenario (the group of men with rifles), is pretty common. A lot of the Bond films end like that, for example (From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever). It may not have appeared much in westerns before, but then Leone wasn’t making conventional westerns & he was borrowing motifs from other genres.

The ending of GBU doesn’t really fall into the same category, because where GBU was innovative was in having three rival central characters rather than a conventional heroes v villains set-up. Angel Eyes is most obviously identified as a villain (“the Bad”) so it’s natural for him to bite the dust in the big showdown, but the audience is left guessing right up to the final seconds how the rivalry between Blondie & Tuco will resolve itself.

It’s the relationship between Tuco & Blondie which is central to the film, while Angel Eyes drifts in & out of the plot at intervals. IMO, although GBU had a Civil War era setting, the Blondie-Tuco relationship set the pattern which was later used in many of the Zapata westerns: an uneasy on-off alliance/rivalry between the cool mercenary gringo & the tempestuous peasant bandit. Some of the Zapatas, like GLT, push the villains way into the background with very little screen time or character development, & just concentrate on the mercenary & bandit relationship, but Mercenario & Companeros both kept a strong villain role, like GBU.

So I think what Corbucci did with the ending of Mercenario is pretty similar to GBU: dispose of main villain in a big showdown, then resolve the relationship between the central characters who try to get one over on each other one last time. The plot resolution is drawn out longer, & with more action in it, as it also involves a secondary villain (the Mexican army officer) & the girl, two other factors which aren’t in GBU.

I’m certainly not saying that the plot & ending of Mercenario aren’t brilliant or innovative, but I think Corbucci was working with the same ideas as Leone, & heavily influenced by the structure of GBU in particular.

Not sure about the flashback framing. I’m sure there are other films with a first half in flashback & a second half back in the present but can’t think of a good example that predates Mercenario off the top of my head.


(Sanjuro) #246

Incidentally, was the name Sergei Kowalski chosen because it sounds like a Polish equivalent of the name Sergio Corbucci?


(Stanton) #247

In From Russia and Goldfinger Bond faces at the end the chief villain (Lenya, Fröbe), so it wasn’t a surprise. So it was Diamonds (and then also Live and Let Die) which was the first Bond in which there was another confrontation after the film seems to be over. In both the happy ending seems to start when a last thread appears. That’s similar to Mercenario, but was thereafter.

I still don’t remember any film before FAD doing that.

The ending of GBU doesn't really fall into the same category, because where GBU was innovative was in having three rival central characters rather than a conventional heroes v villains set-up. Angel Eyes is most obviously identified as a villain ("the Bad") so it's natural for him to bite the dust in the big showdown, but the audience is left guessing right up to the final seconds how the rivalry between Blondie & Tuco will resolve itself.

It’s the relationship between Tuco & Blondie which is central to the film, while Angel Eyes drifts in & out of the plot at intervals. IMO, although GBU had a Civil War era setting, the Blondie-Tuco relationship set the pattern which was later used in many of the Zapata westerns: an uneasy on-off alliance/rivalry between the cool mercenary gringo & the tempestuous peasant bandit. Some of the Zapatas, like GLT, push the villains way into the background with very little screen time or character development, & just concentrate on the mercenary & bandit relationship, but Mercenario & Companeros both kept a strong villain role, like GBU.

So I think what Corbucci did with the ending of Mercenario is pretty similar to GBU: dispose of main villain in a big showdown, then resolve the relationship between the central characters who try to get one over on each other one last time. The plot resolution is drawn out longer, & with more action in it, as it also involves a secondary villain (the Mexican army officer) & the girl, two other factors which aren’t in GBU.

I’m certainly not saying that the plot & ending of Mercenario aren’t brilliant or innovative, but I think Corbucci was working with the same ideas as Leone, & heavily influenced by the structure of GBU in particular.

The Mercenary is surely in its structure closer to GBU than any other Corbucci film, but also to Quien sabe?, which also has the relationship between a manipulative Gringo and a Mexican.
But the small encore in FOD and FaFDM happens at the same place where the final duel had happened, and immediately after the duel.
And in GBU the ending also follows directly the triello, and brings the relationship between Blondie and tuco to an end. But The Mercenary starts the story again.

Not sure about the flashback framing. I'm sure there are other films with a first half in flashback & a second half back in the present but can't think of a good example that predates Mercenario off the top of my head.

There are indeed some films which start with a flashback, which then is closed in the middle of the film. But the flashback in The Mercenary is directly connected with a Leone like showdown, and normally if so much of a story is told in flashback, the audience must expect the ending at this point.
And just like a few people have complained about the unhappy TGS ending, several people think TM should have ende with the L’arena scene. (Read the thread)
And again there surely wasn’t a film before in which a typical ending sequence begins, and then suddenly instead of the credits another scene starts. Even if this scene is now indeed a short one. And for me this short scene also changes the “message” of the film.

That’s more than a few steps more compared to the Dollar trilogy, and no other genre film has done a similar thing before. At least none that I have seen, and maybe even outside of genre films nobody made it before. (Godard maybe?)

In the 60s a lot was possible.


(Novecento) #248

;D


(Pistolero08) #249

Netflix now has ‘Il Mercinario’ for Instant Streaming. The MGM logo comes on before the film as well. Maybe there’s a Region 1 DVD in the works? I’ll probably get the Koch Media release instead, because I doubt an MGM DVD release would have any extras.


(Commissioner) #250

In the English dub, did the woman that dubbed Columba in this also dub Jill in Once Upon A Time in the West? It sounds very similar to me…

To (briefly) continue the argument that’s filled most of the rest of the thread, I marginally prefer Companeros. But I think that’s only because I saw it first, so it seems like the “right” version to me.


(Chris_Casey) #251

Yes! You have good ears, amigo! :slight_smile:


(Andy) #252

I’m crossing my fingers :wink:


(p.pereira) #253

The Koch DVD is indeed very fine. The soundtrack of this movie is also excellent, it can be heard here:


(Major Clyde) #254

Does anyone know the (minor) supporting actor who played the mine guard (“It’s true, no difference between rich and poor here.”) at the beginning and who was the man in the prostitute’s room near the beginning of Garringo? His photo was also misidentified as Fernando Sancho in Jasper Morgan’s book and I’ve seen him here and there. Thanks. Just curious.

I think it’s Tito Garcia (Pepito Tigrero in Companeros) but I’m not sure-- he looks a little different to me.


(klinteastwood) #255

watching this for the first time because i just found it on netflix instant…fuck yes my friends…been wanting to watch this classic spaghetti for a very very long time but could never find a copy…and might i say, franco nero has a very cool outfit in this ;D ;D ;D ;D


(Stork Vulture) #256

It will be on TCM (Turner Classic Movies), on March 6th.

I finally get a chance to see it.


(Reza) #257

Hey guys…anyone watched this on blu ray?


(Sebastian) #258

yea

http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index.php/Franco_Nero_Italo-Western_Box_Review_(BluRay)II

rough translation of the bluray part

Koch Media präsentiert den Film weltweit erstmals auf Blu-ray in sehr guter und scharfer Bildqualität, die eine beachtliche Steigerung zur DVD aufweist. Hier und da wurde zwar mit DNR Filtern angesetzt, das Filmkorn jedoch blieb größtenteils unangetastet, welches dem Bild einen schönen filmischen Look beschert. Als Bonusmaterial befinden sich ein 45 Minütiges Featurette zum Film, ein Drehortvergleich zwischen damals und heute, sowie der Obligatorische Trailer in Deutsch und Italienisch auf der Scheibe.

English:

World premiere of this movie on bluray. Very good and crisp transfer, a tremendous step up from the DVD. Some noise reduction visible but the grainyness is mostly left untouched, which gives the picture a nice film look. there is only a 25min bonus feature, some location comparisons and a trailer in german and italian.

the review does not go much more into technical aspects, such as sound.


(Jonny Powers) #259

I’m considering picking up the DVD, but has there been any news in regards to a single disc blu ray release?


(Sebastian) #260

I am sure it will arrive eventually.

I have one DVD to sell, make me an offer via personal message. Excellent condition (like new)