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TWENTY DJANGO MOVIES

The best Django, Franco Nero, played the gunslinger in Django, Django Strikes Again and (wink) Django’s Grand Return

Like Tarzan, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes the melancholy bounty hunter Django has been presented in various incarnations and with wildly differing continuity. And like soccer the Django movies have been an enormous success almost everywhere except the U.S. 

The great Franco Nero created the role in 1966 in a film so popular in Europe (but banned in the UK for its still- controversial violence) that it spawned a legion of sequels. Some sequels starred Franco Nero or others in the role of Django, while others were just unrelated westerns whose distributors simply  attached a phony Django title to them, sometimes redoing the dubbing to have the lead character referred to as Django, other times not bothering.

Original Django poster Balladeer’s Blog presents a look at twenty of the films featuring (legitimately or not) the most durable Eurowestern hero of them all. And, yes, if you’re wondering, the western bounty hunter Django was indeed the reason George Lucas named that outer space bounty hunter Jango Fett.

DJANGO (1966) – In 1867 Mexico Django, a veteran of the Union army in the Civil War, seeks revenge on Major Jackson, the Confederate officer behind his wife’s death. Jackson and his still-loyal troops, now turned  outright Klansmen, are, like so many other fleeing Confederates,  fighting for the Mexican Emperor Maximilian in the war to keep his throne.  

Django battles Jackson’s hooded thugs, even ambushing dozens with the Gatling Gun he keeps concealed in a coffin. When he’s out of men Major Jackson calls on Maximilian’s Imperial troopers for reinforcements and prepares to face Django and the Mexican rebel troops he’s fallen in with. For a detailed review of this unforgettable film click here: https://glitternight.com/2012/08/08/the-original-django-and-two-blaxploitation-westerns-a-primer-for-django-unchained/

DJANGO SHOOTS FIRST (1966) – AKA He Who Shoots First. Django comes into an enormous inheritance from his murdered father, an inheritance he learns he must share with his late father’s unscrupulous business partner, Mr Cluster. Django starts blowing away a host of bad guys as he tries to piece together who is responsible for his father’s death.

DJANGO, A BULLET FOR YOU (1966) – Django uses his guns to protect a group of downtrodden farmers from the villainous, land-grabbing town boss of Wagon Valley. He gets more than he bargained for when it turns out the town boss is conspiring with a railroad tycoon who has lots of money and lots of  gunmen to throw at him.

 $10,000 for a massacre$10,000.00 BLOOD MONEY (1966) – AKA $10,000.00 for a Massacre. A wealthy land baron hires Django to recover his kidnapped daughter and kill the gang of Mexican bandits who snatched her.

Django tries to manipulate the situation so he can get the land baron’s fee AND the bounties offered on the bandits. Continue reading

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PART TWO OF TWENTY JAMES GARNER MOVIES (11-20)

FOR THE FIRST TEN MOVIES CLICK HERE

One Little IndianONE LITTLE INDIAN (1973) – Light-hearted family western. James Garner portrays Corporal Clint Keyes, who, after clashing with his Indian-hating superior, escapes a potential hanging for it and rides off into the desert with a pair of camels left over from the ill-advised American Camel Corps attempt in the 1800s.

Clay O’Brien was the title character, Mark, a white boy who had been raised by Native Americans and who winds up tagging along with Keyes, Lone Wolf and Cub-style. Vera Miles plays the widowed Doris McIver and a very young Jodie Foster has the role of her daughter Martha. (“Why did you say that NAME!?”)

Morgan Woodward portrays the bad guy Sgt Raines, who relentlessly pursues Keyes to bring him back to be executed for mutiny and desertion. Robert Pine, Andrew Prine and Dallas‘ Jim Davis are in the cast as well. Naturally there’s a happy ending with Mark, the widow McIver and her daughter serving as a pre-packaged family for Garner’s character in the finale. Continue reading

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TWENTY JAMES GARNER MOVIES

James Garner 2Balladeer’s Blog’s theme of Top 20 lists for the year 2020 continues with this look at a score of James Garner films. NOTE: The Great Escape is not included, only because Garner was part of an ensemble cast in that movie. 

Best remembered for his portrayal of slick-talking gambler/ gunslinger Brett Maverick and Westlake-esque private detective Jim Rockford, Garner inspired the term “marshmallow macho”. That description perfectly captured Garner’s special appeal.

James GarnerFor many American males James Garner and the characters he brought to life represented a happy medium between psychotically macho men and unbearably femmey men. I hate the term “role model” but for lack of a better choice that’s what we’ll go with.

In addition Garner served in the Korean War and won two Purple Hearts.

MaverickMAVERICK (1994) – Though James Garner was technically playing a supporting role to Mel Gibson in this film, Gibson was portraying Bret Maverick, the character Garner had turned into a sensation in the 1950s. Since this movie would not exist without the cultural cache built up by James’ portrayal of both Bret AND “Pappy” Beauregard Maverick (in old age makeup) this definitely counts as a Garner film.

NECESSARY SPOILER: The lawman character that Garner portrays in the film turns out to really be Pappy Maverick, with Mel Gibson’s Bret simply playing along with his father’s impersonation. FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW OF THIS FILM CLICK HERE   

Barbarians at the GateBARBARIANS AT THE GATE (1993) – In this telefilm based on the best-selling non-fiction book, Jim plays F. Ross Johnson, the real-life president of RJR-Nabisco who unleashed one of the most chaotic and frenzied leveraged buyouts in Wall Street history during the “greed is good” 1980s.

The real Ross Johnson was close with Warren Beatty and other major players in the entertainment industry, which may be why he gets painted in a less villainous light in the movie. (Being played by the ever-charming Garner certainly helps.) In reality FEWER jobs were lost by the ultimately triumphant Henry Kravis’ LBO plan than would have been lost if Johnson came out on top.

Teddy Forstmann, the lone Wall Street figure of the 80s who was a voice in the wilderness condemning LBOs and the damage they did to the economy, gets depicted as a virtual loon. Very odd, since Forstmann’s real-life views on LBOs were closer to the sentiments of Larry Gelbart and the others behind this flick than Johnson’s or Kravis’ were.

Ultimately Barbarians at the Gate is a dark comedy classic, it’s true, but read the book if you want the real low-down on the eventful RJR-Nabisco buyout. Continue reading

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MANDY (2018): NICOLAS CAGE IN THE ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY!

MandyMANDY (2018) – For anyone who was alive back then, 1983 was apparently different than you remember. Panos Cosmatos directed and co-wrote this blood-soaked, trippy combination of Hellraiser, Father’s Day, Werewolves on Wheels and Thou Shalt Not Kill … Except.

Balladeer’s Blog readers who remember how much I enjoyed Cosmatos’ previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow will not be surprised to find that I love this prime example of a “love it or hate it” movie. Despite the story’s 1983 setting, Mandy is not quite as slavish a faux-80s piece as Beyond the Black Rainbow. This psychedelic work mixes in plenty of stylistic touches that are beyond anything a 1980s flick would have served up.

masc graveyard newThe soundtrack by the late Johann Johannsson is so effective it practically deserves a co-director credit. Meanwhile, serving as something of a humanoid special effect is madman-in-residence Nicolas Cage, who stars as Red Miller.

Red is a lumberjack, and he’s okay (Had to be said). He lives in a cabin in the idyllic forests of the Shadow Mountains with his true love, Mandy. The title character is played by Andrea Riseborough, who gives off a kind of creepy Sissy Spaceck/ Shelley Duvall vibe. Continue reading

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FOURTEEN MOVIES AND SHOWS TOO DARING FOR HOLLYWOOD

masc chair and bottleBalladeer’s Blog takes a look at several controversial pieces of entertainment too edgy for the mainstream.

… BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME (2016) – Is it real? If it is, is it MEANT to be as funny as it is? Left-wingers and right-wingers try to shame into silence the contestants on a game show. This is done by calling them “racists” if they are pro-freedom of expression and “baby-killers” if they are pro-choice on abortion.  Real or fake, this game show is sure to offend almost everybody. Continue reading

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VALENTINE’S DAY MOVIE: CASABLANCA (1942)

CasablancaCASABLANCA (1942) – Happy Valentine’s Day! A few readers of Balladeer’s Blog have asked me for my opinion on this classic movie so I figured Valentine’s Day was the perfect opportunity.

People are often surprised when I like movies that so many other people rate highly. I like plenty of the old, old classics, it’s just that I prefer to blog about much more offbeat and obscure items. My favorite film of all time is Citizen Kane. Really. But I’ve never reviewed it here because I wasn’t in the mood to write the 100 millionth glowing review of that particular movie.

masc chair and bottleGetting back to Casablanca, it’s possibly the greatest “bittersweet ending” romantic flick ever made. I find that it appeals to almost everyone. If you’re young and naïve it can make you ache at the thought of persevering despite your broken heart. If you’re older and cynical it makes you nostalgic for a time when you actually thought a broken heart was the worst thing that could happen to you. Continue reading

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CHANGE OF HABIT (1969)

Change of Habit bCHANGE OF HABIT (1969) – This review is in honor of Elvis Presley’s birthday. Change of Habit is a movie that was practically MADE to be ridiculed. You’ve got Elvis Presley, never exactly a master thespian, his sideburns, which out-perform him in this flick and Mary Tyler Moore as a nun torn between her vows and her growing attraction to The King.

Elvis himself plays a doctor named John Carpenter (yes, like the horror film director), making his initials J.C., just like another famous Jewish carpenter … Jacob Cohen. Dr Elvis runs a practice in the ghetto, which should probably be rendered THE GHETTO instead, given the ham-fisted and stereotypical depiction of the neighborhood and its inhabitants.

Elvis’ character  – if you can make it out behind his usual one-note performance – is supposed to be the perfect made-for-film physician: good looking, compassionate and willing to buck the system in order to help his patients. … And, of course, he sings.

Mary Tyler Moore’s Sister Michelle is accompanied by her sister nuns Sister Barbara, played by Jane Elliott in the years before she was a Soap Opera queen, and Sister Irene, played by African-American actress and singer Barbara McNair. Continue reading

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