Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CINEMARETRO #13 -- The Big Gundown

If you're a Klaus Kinski fan chances are you're also a Spaghetti Western fan.

I grew up watching Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name" flicks and other westerns on UHF channels, but I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of the genre, even though Sergio Corbucci's THE GREAT SILENCE is one of my Top 5 Kinski Films.

In discussions with other film buffs and Eurotrash nuts I find that people who love Spags really love 'em. If you fall in that group you may want to check out the latest issue of CINEMA RETRO which includes a feature on THE BIG GUNDOWN starring Lee Van Cleef and Thomas Milan and efforts to restore the flick to its original glory.
Among the other great features in the latest issue is entertainment journalist Bruce R. Marshall's fascinating story behind Lee Van Cleef's 1960s cult western The Big Gundown. At this point in his career, Van Cleef was relishing the fact that Sergio Leone's two Dollar westerns had rescued him from financial catastrophe when he could not longer find suitable work in Hollywood. Unlike Clint Eastwood, however, Van Cleef was happy to continue on in the Spaghetti Western genre, making films of varyiing degrees of quality, but always maintaining his position as one of Europe's top movie stars. His 1968 western The Big Gundown teamed him with another popular star of the genre, Tomas Milian under the direction of Sergio Sollima. The film stood out as being a cut above the rest of the pack, but what most fans don't realize is that the movie they've seen is probably not the original, far superior version. In his article for Cinema Retro, Bruce R. Marshall takes a comprehensive and fascinating look at a grass roots effort to restore this movie to its original glory. Marshall interviews a fan who goes under the name of Franco Cleef whose interest in the film has lead him to approach Columbia/Sony about investing in an official restoration of crucial scenes that were cut. However, the film's cachet is not commercial enough to interest Hollywood. Thus, Cleef has taken it upon himself to painstakingly piece together the most complete English -language version of the film possible, using disparate sources to find the relevant footage. (An official restored version of the film has been released in Germany by Kochmedia-dvd.com, but it does not have an English soundtrack.) In Marshall's interview with Cleef, every nuance and aspect of the film is discussed, including specific missing scenes which greatly alter the motivations of the characters. The article also features exclusive comments from the film's director Sergio Sollima as well as a sidebar by Retro's German correspondent Mike Siegel on the history of the German restoration. The article also presents an abundance of extremely rare stills, movie posters and soundtracks from the film.
You can find out more at the CINEMA RETRO website or just pop on over and subscribe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! I'm a really big fan of spaghetties and I'm really interested at the article about the Big Gundown. If you have the magazine, Could you do a favor for a complete stranger and scan it? here's my email: zupa_dns@freemail.hu