Friday, December 16, 2005

Day 34: "Sabata"

Director: Frank Kramer (Gianfranco Parolini) 1969
Skip this if you have no interest in spaghetti westerns. But I've liked them since I saw the first Sergio Leone-Clint Eastwood collaboration, "A Fistful of Dollars." Just as there are wonderful samurai films not directed by Kurosawa, so are there terrific spaghetti westerns not directed by Leone (since we're on the topic, remember that "A Fistful of Dollars" is a rip-off of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo," which was inspired by Dashiell Hammett's great novel, "Red Harvest").
I enjoy lots of things about spaghettis: the nihilistic violence, the operatic dramaturgy, the bad dubbing, the vast Spanish vistas, and the often none-too-subtle critique of capitalism dished up by Marxist screenwriters. My favorite non-Leone is "The Big Gundown," a 1966 film starring Lee Van Cleef which sadly is not available on DVD. Mostly, though, I like them because they can be so entertaining--and so odd.
"Sabata" is a thoroughly enjoyable spaghetti. Van Cleef plays a gunfighter up against a band of thieves who stole $100,000. He quickly kills the robbers, then sets about blackmailing the businessman ringleader. There are acrobats, a man who plays a banjo that doubles as a rifle, and lots of guns going off with the ear-blasting cacophony of a Howitzer.
"Sabata" was the first of a trilogy, although the second fim, "Adios, Sabata," starred Yul Brynner, looking a lot like his character from "The Maganificent Seven," which as we all know was an American version of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai." You gotta love pop culture.


Post a Comment

<< Home