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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dining On Blu-Ray Italian

60/70's Spaghetti Reheated For High-Def

It was spaghetti weekend at Greenbriar, an occasion sometimes for overeating, but I stopped after two lately released on Blu-Ray, The Big Gundown and My Name Is Nobody. Such was part-parcel of seemingly every week at the Liberty during the late 60's. Between stubble of these and biker pics played non-stop, you could go a month without seeing a clean-shaved face. After the Eastwood/Leones broke out, everyone began releasing Spaghettis, but imitators had not Clint or Sergio, so outcome varied. Lee Van Cleef clicking as Eastwood's friendly, then not-so-friendly, enemy from two Dollar purchases made it a cinch he'd be along in vehicles VC-customized, thus Death Rides A Horse, one or two Sabatas, and long unseen The Big Gundown, which Columbia released here after not-so-judicious cutting (read mutilation). I saw Gundown thus in 1968 and even reviewed it for local press, a job unwisely handed me at age fourteen that lasted for two of the godawfulest movie years a boy could sit through.

Columbia Maintains Lead In Ugly Lobby Card Category

I called The Big Gundown "surprisingly good" at the time, and in context of pretend Eastwoods, it was and remains so. There are two Blu-Rays now in circulation, one from Europe, the other generated here by Grindhouse Releasing. They both have alternate US/Euro versions. I watched the Grindhouse American one with Euro stuff put back in where possible (Italian-dialogue-only kept some of footage out). I get an impression that not many saw The Big Gundown when new, a lot of places getting it at drive-ins or no spot where reasonable comfort could be had. The Liberty, however, kept a big tent for everything no matter how raffish, so we had The Big Gundown for three days same as The Sound Of Music or Gone With The Wind on reissue. It's nice to see discard shows like The Big Gundown brought back on terms more favorable than what was accorded by original release, this a worthy western that Grindhouse has done honor by.

My Name Is Nobody has epic aspiration but goes on long. Sergio Leone had creative input of a sort that others will be more conversant on than myself. A lot of situations look as though Leone had a hand in. Henry Fonda, second-billed to Terence Hill, is the west's fastest gun who'd like to retire, but funnyman Hill of breakout Trinity westerns won't let him. A word about the Trinitys: I don't see anyone restoring them, but these things were massive hits on NC repeat basis, first as singles, then combined to always full-housing. TV spots for them became familiar as test patterns. Terence Hill drawing on guys, slapping them, drawing again, another slap, and so on --- doggone funniest thing since Frog Milhouse rode in on his ring-eyed mule. My Name Is Nobody disappointed locally for Trinity pal Bud Spencer being replaced by Fonda, surely an unkindest cut of all to the veteran actor. Nobody was made after spaghettis gave up being serious. Fast draws of the Euro-west would cede to further east reps of unreality, thus chopsocky popularized by Bruce Lee, another whose brand couldn't be duplicated by copyists.


Blogger radiotelefonia said...

The Terence Hill and Bud Spencer films were always funny, even the earliest which were more serious. In Argentina they were extremely popular and I vividly remember at some point in the early 90s when every Friday night a TV network would always schedule their films (either those that they made together or separately). Those films were either under Columbia or Warner Bros. control and would also play during the weekdays on cable channels along with others from other film distributors. IL NOME MIO E NESSUNO (Original title in Italian) always popped up on television since the early eighties and even the Latin American version of TCM later. The issue with these films is the dubbing. Most of them would be shown in Mexican dubbed versions and they were actually far more effective than the versions shown in movie theaters, being either in English or Italian. The English versions are awful and the soundtracks are never well synchronized. The Italian versions are not really good either: all of the actors are usually dubbed by other voices. And the problem is that being co-productions with other countries like Spain or Germany, some members of the cast are actually speaking a different language than Italian and the dubbing becomes too obvious. Although I actually don't like dubbed versions, in these cases the Mexicans actually did a better job.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

I was a youthful theater projectionist when THE BIG GUNDOWN hit my town. Scheduled for a solid week, we managed to yank it and put it back on the truck after a Wednesday-Friday engagement which would have been a perfect opportunity to remodel the hardtop's auditorium. No patrons would have been disturbed.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

I gotta ask Mr. Cline: what was the all-time worst-attended show in your experience? Or was it THE BIG GUNDOWN!

John, were you ever one of very few patrons in an otherwise deserted house?

4:46 PM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Scott, there was many a weekday afternoon when I sat virtually alone at the Liberty for a 3:00 show. As many theatres around us were giving up on matinnes, except on weekends, the Liberty went stoically on and played to many an empty seat.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Scott, the policy of the theaters in which I projected had a policy that if ONE patron bought a ticket, he/she would see the show. The ONLY time I didn't have to run a show was for a 9:00 Monday night showing of POPI with Alan Arkin. I got to go home early, even though I lost two hours pay. I like the Mr. Cline, but not necessary. If you prefer, call me Doghouse Reilly.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

Yep! Same here, one patron constituted an audience.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Several years back when I ran my programs out of a space leased from The Toronto Public Library Systems I lost it to a "non-profit" group that labelled me a capitalist. These folks drew water from a government well. I used my own. After six months they gave up. They asked, "How come you could make this work and we could not?" I told them, "I work with my money of which I have none. The first shows I did I got a few people, lost money and did the show. People went home and told others how much they enjoyed themselves. You came in on government money. You told people there were not enough folk here to make it worth your time to do the show. You sent them home. They told their friends there were not enough people so the show did not go on."

These days more and more folks draw water from the government well. Self reliance seems to be a thing of the past. Those who are self reliant tend to be despised.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

P.S. I will take being despised and being self reliant over the alternative any day.

7:45 AM  

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