The late Sergio Corbucci (the Italian filmmaker who inspired Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming film, “Django Unchained”) has been remembered during the 7th edition of the Los Angeles, Italia – Film, Fashion and Art Fest that has been held February 19-25, the week preceding the Academy Awards at the Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood. Tarantino often defined him as “one of the greatest filmmakers of the ‘spaghetti-western’ genre, together with Sergio Leone and Sergio Sollima.” Actually, the Italian-American director, in his 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs, paid tribute to a whole sequence from Corbucci’s famous western, Django (portrayed by Franco Nero), by re-enacting the scene with other actors. The pitiless sequence shows Josè Bodalo cutting off poor Gino Pernice’s ear.

Born in Rome in 1927, brother to screenwriter Bruno Corbucci, Sergio has been one of the most illustrious and entertaining figures in the Italian cinema, offering his creative approach in his typical craftsman-like style. During his career he shot over seventy films, starting out as a journalist focusing on cinema; by 1951 he was an assistant director in Aldo Vergano’s Santa Lucia luntana and after that, still at a very young age, he directed his first movie, Salvate mia figlia, a ‘working class drama’ with many more films of the same kind to follow.

His eclecticism was the main trait of his cinematic abilities, and helped him embrace the most popular genres of the 50’s and ’60s: the musical, the comedy (between 1960 and 1963 he directed Totò in seven films), the mythological movie and the so-called spaghetti-western. This is the genre to which, together with Sergio Leone and Duccio Tessari, Sergio Corbucci gave his all, and in which he infused unprecedented violence (not even Leone had been so daring).

1966 was the year of Django, a movie that, owing to its dark and gloomy feel, stands out among his western movies;; he reaffirmed himself as the most violent director with his next film Il grande silenzio (made in 1967, but not out in theatres until two years later), presenting the most cynical and desperate finale of the genre. With Franco Nero he also shot two spaghetti westerns: in 1969 Il mercenario with Jack Palance and Tony Musante, and in 1970 the revolutionary Vamos a matar, compañeros, with Tomas Milian.

Returning to comedy, Corbucci put his signature on dozens of successful movies, including: Il bestione (1974), Di che segno sei? (1975), Mi faccio la barca (1980), Il conte Tacchia (1982), Rimini Rimini (1987) and made a few thrillers as well: (La mazzetta, 1978; Giallo napoletano, 1979; I giorni del commissario Ambrosio, 1989).


According to Franco Nero

“During my career I’ve been doing movies all over the world. I’ve done movies in 30 different countries with directors from 30 different countries. I’ve been very lucky to work with everybody In Italy too I worked with the top Italian directors, in Spain I worked with Luis Bunuel, in Germany with Fassbinder, inRussia with Sergei Bondarchuk, who won the Oscar for War & Peace, in France with Claude Chabrol. And once in a while I did a few American movies. Recently I did Letters to Juliet and everybody loved it and it was quite successful.

When Django first came out, it was quite a phenomenon, I remember that in many countries, instead of my name, they put Django in the hotels when I checked in. It was incredible. Imagine that in many states they started to call all of my movies that were shown, Django. It was like an obsession. People always ask me why I think Django was such a success. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because he was a representation of male, young workers and they wanted to be Django. They wanted to go to their bosses and say, “Hey man!”From now on, the situation is different. Because he was cool and so different from the characters in American westerns. It was like a samurai-Japanese movie.

Quentin Tarantino has his Django movie in the works. Its a very incredible story. Tarantino has always been a great friend of mine. Two years ago, I was doing a movie in Spain for Miramax with Penelope Cruz and he was there too and wanted to meet me. So that was the first time I knew him. Two years ago, he came to Rome. He told me he wanted to remake Django. He said: “We’re doing a Western. Would you be so kind to cameo?” and I said, “Oh yeah! I would love do it”. So I came to America and even there many journalists wanted to know more about me and Django and Maestro Corbucci, the director of Django, “the original”.

Franco Nero


Photo: Franco Nero with Joan Collins