Monday, October 13, 2014



DJANGO’s star Franco Nero, and director Sergio Corbucci, reteamed in 1970 for COMPANEROS, one of the most enjoyable of the later Spaghetti Westerns, and BLUE UNDERGROUND’s stunning Blu-Ray edition will be available October 28th.  And in the interest of full disclosure, C. Courtney Joyner and myself do the audio commentary. 

As Corbucci famously said, “Ford has John Wayne, Leone has Clint Eastwood, and I have Franco Nero,” and all of their collaborations are wonderful, imaginative exercises in filmmaking, the in-between one being THE MERCENARY.  COMPANEROS is full of action and humor, and concerns the Mexican Revolution, and the different motivations of the many characters on the same and on opposite sides of the fight.  The excellent cast includes Tomas Milian as an oaf who has revolutionary greatness thrust upon him, and may or may not be up to it; Jack Palance as the hired gun determined to stop them; Fernando Rey as the professor who inspires the rebels; stunning German actress Iris Berben embodying the spirit of the uprising – and representing the German financial stake in the film; and Franco Nero as the mercenary gun-dealer who cares only for money when the story starts.  The BLUE UNDERGROUND version has several additional minutes of footage in the opening scenes which makes the movie much more logical than when it was first released in American theatres. 

The score by Ennio Morricone features a theme that is not only stirring, but remarkably blood-thirsty when you get the translation.  The dazzling cinematography is by Alejandro Ulloa, who also photographed Corbucci’s THE MERCENARY, SONNY AND JED, and WHAT AM I DOIING IN THE REVOLUTION.  The two-disc set from BLUE UNDERGROUND includes a DVD with the film in English, an international trailer, talent bios, and a 17 minute documentary, IN THE COMPANY OF COMPANEROS, featuring interviews with Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, and composer Ennio Morricone.  The Blu-Ray disc includes both the 114 minute English-language version and the Italian 119 minute version (with optional subtitles), everything on the DVD, Court’s and my commentary, more trailers – amazing how different each is from the next – and a poster and still gallery.  Click HERE to go to the BLUE UNDERGROUND site and see the trailer.


At the moment, Rob Word is at The Lone Pine Film Festival, sharing his Western knowledge and moderating panels amidst the iconic western movie locations like the Alabama Hills; but come Wednesday at 12:30 he’ll be at the Autry discussing a western icon of the human kind, legendary stuntman Hal Needham. 

Needham, who died in October of 2013, earlier in that year received an Academy Award in recognition of his work as a stuntman and stunt coordinator.  He broke fifty-six bones doubling for actors like Kent Taylor in ZORRO, Clint Eastwood in RAWHIDE, Richard Boone in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, Burt Reynolds in GUNSMOKE, and a hundred other actors in a hundred other shows.  He shared a technical Oscar for development of the Shot-maker Elite Camera-car and Crane.  And he directed twenty movies, including HOOPER, the best, and funniest, movie ever made about stuntmen. 

Lunch comes first, after which Rob will lead his ‘A Word on Westerns’, with friends and coworkers of Needham’s reminiscing about his magnificent career.  These third-Wednesday-of-the-month luncheons are always delightful and informative – and absolutely packed – so get there early if you want a seat inside!  You buy your own lunch, but the event is free!  Below are a  pair of clips from two of Rob’s recent luncheons to give you a taste!


The role in Quentin Tarantino’s next Western, which was played in the staged reading by Amber Tamblyn, will be portrayed on-screen by Jennifer Jason Leigh.  (You can read Andrew Ferrell’s report on the staged reading HERE) She joins a cast which includes Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Viggo Mortenson, Tim Roth, Walter Goggins and James Remar. 


On Friday night I had the pleasure of visiting the set of Kurt Russell’s first western since TOMBSTONE, BONE TOMAHAWK!  I’ll have more about that soon in the Round-up!  Have a great week!

Happy Trails,


All Original Contents Copyright October 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Kurt Russell? I am so there. And great clip on The Shootist. Sorry to hear it was difficult behind the scenes. John Wayne and Don Siegel are superstars to me.