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Friday, January 30, 2015

DJANGO (1966)

Too fat to be joined at the hip, but the two Sergios, Leone & Corbucci, were present at creation as godfathers to the Spaghetti Western. Sergio Leone heading up the A-Team and Sergio Corbucci taking the B-Team. No shame in that; Spaghetti Westerns go far down the alphabet. DJANGO, probably his first distinctive pic, is out via Blue Underground in a generally excellent transfer of the full (all violence included) 92 minute cut. It's a four-cornered fable that finds Franco Nero’s army-of-one hauling a Gatling gun around in a coffin as he alternately plays with, then against, a motley gang of Mexican revolutionary cutthroats who are fending off armies North and South of the Mexican border. The battles and fights are blunt, busy & exciting, if not especially believable. (The technical bravura & daring originality of Sergio Leone don’t enter into the Corbucci helming equation.) But the film has its own strengths in Franco Nero’s calm cruelty and in some really fabulous art direction. Particularly, in the dead town where half the film plays out in a saloon full of harpies and on the color-drained main street, a masterpiece of dramatic design. Too bad the big climax is kind of a letdown, missing the flair & suspense of an earlier set piece that finds Django & his multi-purpose coffin going rogue for a fortune in gold powder.

DOUBLE-BILL: Corbucci churned out heaps of product, little available Stateside. But from later this year, see him put Burt Reynolds thru his paces in the violently effective NAVAJO JOE/’66. And, of course, there’s Quentin Tarantino’s largely unrelated DJANGO UNCHAINED/’12; best in its first hour.

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