Wednesday, September 7, 2011

#397. Django (1966)

Directed By: Sergio Corbucci

Starring: Franco Nero, José Bódalo, Loredana Nusciak

Tag line: "The movie that spawned a genre"

Trivia:  The film spawned hundreds of unofficial sequels

The title character of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film Django seems like your typical spaghetti western hero: short on conversation and quick with a gun. In fact, one of the only things that sets Django apart from his cinematic peers is his traveling companion: a coffin. As the opening titles play out over the film's awesome title song (performed by Rocky Roberts), we watch Django drag this coffin through the mud and up a steep hill. 

It's a hell of a way to kick off a movie, and Django is one hell of a movie!!

Within moments of his arrival in a Mexican border town, Django (Franco Nero) finds himself caught in the middle of an ongoing feud between two murderous mobs. On one side are the local Mexican bandits, led by the ruthless General Hugo Rodriguez (José Bódalo), and on the other, a crew of American Confederate soldiers under the command of Major Jackson (Eduardo Fajardo). 

As is the case with most such feuds, their showdowns occur in the center of town, where innocent people get caught in the crossfire. What neither side counted on, however, was Django, whose blazing guns show no favorites and take no sides. 

Though silent through much of the movie, Django does occasionally let his guard down, and when he does, his attitude can best be described as... hostile. But then, he's going up against some real lowlifes in this movie. In fact, Django gives us not one, but two strong adversaries, the first of whom is Major Jackson, a bigoted Confederate Army officer with a deep hatred for all Mexicans. Django's initial encounter with Jackson is in the town saloon, where the Major and his subordinates surround the gunslinger and question him about the killing of five of Jackson’s men. Django did, indeed, gun these guys down, and before the Major can react, our hero draws and finishes off a few more of them. 

General Rodriguez is every bit as brutal as his American counterpart, and even cuts the ear off a man he believes is working against him. At the outset, Django and Rodriguez appear to be friends, but such friendships aren’t destined to last very long. 

Due to its excessive violence, Django was banned outright in many countries, and the MPAA refused to issue it a rating in the United States. With one or two exceptions, the violence in Django is tame by today's standards, yet what hasn’t evaporated over time is the film’s exhilarating style, heightened by a handful of incredible gunfights. 

With action and excitement aplenty, Django ranks alongside The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West as one of the best Spaghetti Westerns ever made.

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