Archive for Django

Transmissions to Earth: DJANGO (1966)

Posted in 2012, 60s Movies, Action Movies, Classic Films, Exploitation Films, Italian Cinema, Killers, LL Soares Reviews, Low Budget Movies, Spaghetti Westerns, Trasmissions to Earth, Westerns with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2012 by knifefighter

 

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Transmissions to Earth Presents:

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DJANGO (1966)
Review by L.L. Soares

In honor of Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, DJANGO UNCHAINED, which opened on Christmas Day, I thought I would see the movie that inspired him – at least in part – the original 1966 spaghetti western called, simply, DJANGO, starring Franco Nero.

When we first see the titular anti-hero, Django is on a hill, dragging a coffin behind him with ropes. He looks down upon a group of Mexican bandits tying up a prostiute named Maria (Loredana Nusciak) and flogging her. Suddenly, a group of soldiers arrive, shooting the bandits and setting the woman free – or so we think. Instead, they form a cross from pieces of wood, intent on burning her for her sins. Django comes to her rescue and she is saved a second time.

Django drags around a coffin wherever he goes.

Django drags around a coffin wherever he goes.

Going into town, they find it pretty much deserted, except for a whorehouse/saloon run by Nathaniel (Angel Alvarez). Their clientele includes the soldiers, led by Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo), and the Mexican bandits, led by General Hugo (Jose Bodalo), the exact two groups who had taken turns persecuting Maria earlier.

Django makes the whorehouse his office, dragging that coffin of his into the middle of the room, to the consternation of Nathaniel and his girls, who are terrified about how Major Jackson will respond. When we are introduced to the Major, he is using bandits as target practice (they’re forced to run up a hill and he shoots them in the back as they flee). Jackson takes some of his men into town to look at the stranger who shot some of his soldiers, which leads to  Django revealing just what’s in that coffin of his. Let’s just say Major Jackson enters the saloon with an entourage and leaves all by himself.

Django has a special treat for his enemies in the coffin he drags around everywhere.

Django has a special treat for his enemies in the coffin he drags around everywhere.

While Django and Nathaniel are digging graves for all the men Django has killed, the bandits show up again. It turns out that General Hugo knows Django from past skirmishes and they are old friends. Django reveals to the General why he came to town – to steal some gold from a military fort just inside the Mexican border. Hugo is game, and they follow Major Jackson back to the fort, where they attack (after hiding in the covered wagon Nathaniel normally uses to bring prostitutes to the soldiers) and abscond with a big bag of gold dust.

Afterwards, Hugo double-crosses Django, cheating him out of his cut of the gold in the name of “La Revolucion” Hugo is planning, to take over the Mexican government. He expects Django to make a sacrifice for the cause, but the mysterious stranger has no intention of leaving empty-handed, especially when it was his plan that got them the gold.

After tricking the bandits out of their gold, Django tries to get away, but accidentally loses the gold (now stuffed in his coffin) to a patch of quicksand. The bandits catch up and crush Django’s hands, leaving him for dead, before riding off into an ambush of Major Jackson’s men, who shoot the bandits dead.

The film ends with a lethal showdown in a cemetery with Django, with a gun but crushed hands, against Major Jackson and a group of his men, culminating in a satisfying conclusion.

DJANGO was a big hit upon its initial release and spawned lots of imitators, and some sequels. It’s clear that Franco Nero’s character is patterened after the “Man with No Name” that Clint Eastwood played in the spaghetti westerns he did for director Sergio Leone.  Django is a man of few works, with a face full of stubble, like Eastwood’s mercenary, but Nero also has piercing blue eyes beneath his beat-up cowboy hat. Directed by Sergio Corbucci, DJANGO isn’t as epic as Leone’s best work, and he clearly doesn’t have anywhere near the budget of Leone’s films, but Corbucci makes up for it in in interesting locations and a strong atmosphere of foreboding.

DJANGO doesn’t have much to distinguish it from the tons of other Italian westerns of the time, but Nero is terrific as the lead character. And that coffin he drags around is an interesting gimmick. Also, Major Jackson’s men go around wearing red bags over their heads, looking an awful lot like a variation on the Klu Klux Klan (the fact that Jackson is clearly a racist just emphasizes this).

It’s not 100% clear what Major Jackson is up to. He leads a group of soldiers, but they seem to be outside of the law and murder the locals with impunity. At one point, Jackson mentions that he fought for the South in the recent Civil War (which isn’t referred to by name), while Django fought for the North. All the more reason for them to be enemies. But since the film was made in Italy, it seems to be a little vague about the details of the war and the specifics of geography.

While it’s not a great movie, DJANGO has some great moments, including a scene where bandits cut off the ear of one of Major Jackson’s cronies, a preacher named Brother Jonathan (Gino Pernice), and that final showdown in the graveyard. And Franco Nero dominates every scene he’s in, and it’s not hard to see how he became an international star.

Charismatic actor Franco Nero became a star for his portrayal of DJANGO.

Charismatic actor Franco Nero became a star for his portrayal of DJANGO.

DJANGO may have “inspired” Tarantino’s new one, but aside from the titles (and names of the title characters) and the fact that they’re both westerns, there’s not a lot in common between DJANGO and DJANGO UNCHAINED. Tarantino has stated that he really likes this movie, however, and he uses some of Luis Bacalov’s score for DJANGO in DJANGO UNCHAINED, including the memorable title song which appears in both films. The original film is worth checking out, however, especially if you’re a big fan of Italian westerns of the 1970s.

© Copyright 2012 by L.L. Soares

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Cinema Knife Fight Coming Attractions for DECEMBER 2012

Posted in 2012, Action Movies, Coming Attractions, Crime Films, Fantasy Films, Murder!, Tarantino Films with tags , , , , , , on December 7, 2012 by knifefighter

Cinema Knife Fight – COMING ATTRACTIONS:
DECEMBER 2012
by Michael Arruda and L.L. Soares

 

(THE SCENE: A prairie somewhere in the Deep South.  MICHAEL ARRUDA & L.L. SOARES ride in on horses and come to a stop under a tree.)

MICHAEL ARRUDA:  Welcome to this month’s COMING ATTRACTIONS column. The column where we preview what movies we’re reviewing for the month.

L.L. SOARES:  And we’re riding in on horseback, I reckon, because we’re on our way to Mississippi to review the big movie of the month—and the one I’m most looking forward to—Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED.

MA:  Which takes place in Mississippi just before the Civil War.  But this highly anticipated movie doesn’t open until the end of the month, and so we have a few other movies to review first.

LS: Dang it!

Well, the weekend of December 7th, I’ll be reviewing the movie DEADFALL starring Eric Bana as a criminal on the lam after shooting a cop. It looks like it might be pretty good, but I think it’s in limited release, which means Michael won’t be able to see this one. That’s okay, because I can take the following weekend off.

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MA:  Yep, the weekend of December 14th, I’ll be reviewing THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (2012), Peter Jackson’s follow-up to his LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.  I’ll either be reviewing this one solo or with a guest reviewer, as L.L. here will be sitting this one out.

LS:  Yeah, I’m allergic to hobbits.

MA: Really? You’re physically allergic to them?

LS: Okay, not really. But  I hate ‘em. They’re annoying little bastards.

(Little hobbits run by and toss some cream pies at LS.  He ducks out of the way, and the pies hit MA in the face.)

LS (laughing):  Sucker!

MA (licking cream off his fingers):  It’s okay.  I love cream pies.

I also loved Jackson’s LORD OF THE RINGS movies, so I’m looking forward to THE HOBBIT, even though I’m not quite sure I’m ready for a trilogy based on Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit.”  I mean, it’s not like “The Hobbit” is an epic 1,000 page book.  But THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies were nearly flawless in their attention to detail, and I was thoroughly captivated by all three movies, enjoying the journey into Middle Earth, and I believed it, every step of the way.

LS:  Gullible fool.

MA:  Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf, reprising the role he played in the three LORD OF THE RINGS movies, and Martin Freeman will be playing Bilbo Baggins.  Peter Jackson directs once again, and is also one of the four screenwriters, in a group that includes Guillermo del Toro.

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LS:  I wasn’t a big fan of the LORD OF THE RINGS s movies. The first one was okay, the second one bored me to death, and I didn’t even bother seeing the third one, so I’m not the best person to review THE HOBBIT, and I’m more than happy to sit this one out.

MA: It’s too bad you missed the third one.  It might be the best of the three.

On December 21, we’ll be reviewing JACK REACHER, an action thriller starring Tom Cruise.  I’m not really a Tom Cruise fan so I can’t say I’m all that excited about this one.  The trailer makes it look like an updated variation of the Dirty Harry movies, and seeing Cruise in this tough guy role is about as convincing as if he were being played by Justin Bieber.  Nuff said.

It does have a decent supporting cast though, including Robert Duvall and Richard Jenkins, so at least we’ll have those guys to watch.

It’s written and directed by Christopher McQuarrie, the guy who wrote VALKYRIE (2008) the OK Nazi thriller starring Tom Cruise, and way-back-when he wrote THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995), a film I liked a lot.

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LS: I’m actually more excited about this one than you are. I think the trailer for JACK REACHER looks pretty cool. I’m not a big Tom Cruise guy, either, but he’s good at playing these cold-blooded hitman types. I enjoyed COLLATERAL (2004) a lot, for example, where Cruise played a hired killer opposite Jamie Foxx as a cabbie who drives him around.

I’m looking forward to it.

Speaking of Foxx – the movie I’m looking forward to most is Quentin Tarantino’s new one, DJANGO UNCHAINED, coming out on Christmas Day. A new Tarantino movie is always a reason to celebrate, as far as I’m concerned. I love all his movies, and I expect to love this one, too. He delivers the goods.

This time around, Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave who bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz, who was so terrific in Tarantino’s last film, 2009’s INGLORIOUS BASTERDS) takes under his wing. Django has information about some guys Schultz is hunting down, and in return for his cooperation,  Schultz agrees to set Django free and help him find his wife. With Leonardo DiCaprio as an especially sleazy bad guy named Calvin Candie, this one looks like a lot of fun.

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MA:  Yep, I’m really looking forward to DJANGO UNCHAINED as well.  It’ll be fun to see a new Quentin Tarantino movie, and while I’m not the biggest fan of Jamie Foxx, I do like Leonardo DiCaprio a lot, and I also remember really enjoying Waltz’s performance in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS.

It should be a strong way to finish the month, and—since this is December—the year as well.  I think 2012 has been a good year for movies.

LS:  Yeah, it’s been pretty good. Speaking of which, don’t forget to look for our BEST OF and WORST OF columns at the end of December, or early on in January. I’m sure both of those lists will be pretty easy to write this time around.

MA:  That’s right.  And that’s it for now.  Thanks for joining us everybody!  (to LS) Shall we ride off into the sunset?

LS:  Sure (hits the back of MA’s horse, and the animal panics and tears away with MA trying to control it.)  (LS smiles)  I’m such a basterd.

(Hobbits reappear and throw more cream pies as LS and his horse.)

LS:  Now you went and done it. My horse hates cream pies!

(LS and horse chase the little hobbits up the hill in zany fast motion while BENNY HILL music plays.  Meanwhile, MA finally slows his horse down just in time to be trampled first by the frightened hobbits and then by LS and his horse.)

—END—