To introduce a summer festival of Italian westerns in New York, Alex Cox (whose love of big, incoherent, violent movies was not, in the end, good for his career) reminisces about summers spent in the second-run movie theatres of Paris:
My enthusiasm for “Django” and its contemporaries rivaled that of a young Elizabethan treated to the London theater of the Rose or the Globe. Who cared why the Dane waited so long to murder his uncle? There was mayhem! There was murder! There was madness! There was music! And a ghost! The enthusiasm for these things shown by the best Renaissance playwrights — Marlowe, Webster, Kyd, Middleton — rivaled the spaghetti western auteurs’ equal passion for arbitrary killing, crucifixions, loud music and scenes with white-clad villains abused by talking parrots.His list of favorites:
• Carlo Lizzani’s “Requiescant,” a fierce revenge tale in which the director Pier Paolo Pasolini and several of his actors appear in strange character roles.• Corbucci’s “Navajo Joe” and “Great Silence,” also pessimistic revenge tales, in this case ones that do not end happily for the hero. (“Navajo Joe” is the best of all possible Burt Reynolds vehicles; “The Great Silence” is one of the finest westerns ever).• “Quien Sabe?” (“A Bullet for the General”) and “Tepepa,” parables about third-world revolution and the Vietnam War disguised as westerns.• Giulio Questi’s “Django Kill,” which had nothing to do with “Django” but displayed a surreal aesthetic worthy of Buñuel, featuring gay outlaws, murderous townsfolk and that talking parrot.• Tonino Valerii’s “Price of Power,” which restaged the Kennedy assassination, in Dallas, circa 1880.