Django [1966]

Along with Sergio Leone's Clint Eastwood trilogy, Sergio Corbucci's Django, starring Belgian hunk Franco Nero as the gritty mercenary who drags a coffin behind him, was one of the most influential spaghetti Westerns. After mowing down armies of bad guys with his machine gun (which he brandishes in classic two-fisted tough-guy fashion--from the hip), he stages a daring gold heist from a Mexican military fortress and then plots to double-cross his bandito partners. Corbucci, who cowrote the story, fashions an unrelentingly violent tale of rival gangs squeezing the life out of a muddy, bloody border town, reveling in the sadism of the genre. The film opens with a woman strung up and lashed by a group of lascivious bandits, only to be saved by even more sadistic gunmen who plan to burn her alive, and Django fan Quentin Tarantino borrowed the scene where a vindictive general slices the ear off a corrupt preacher for Reservoir Dogs. While not as stylish as Leone's operatic epics, Django pushed the borders of violence into all-new territory, and the film was banned outright in England and cut in the U.S. It spawned 20 unofficial sequels before Nero returned 20 years later for the only legitimate sequel, Django Strikes Again. In the meantime, Nero followed up this grimy antihero role with a turn as the singing medieval superknight Lancelot in Camelot! Also features a short interview with Nero. --Sean Axmaker

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