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@Maggie Pt. 2 - Lee The Actor
Mon Feb 19, 2018 5:30am

Hi Maggie--

I consider myself a huge L.V.C. fan; however, I was always frustrated by his infatuation with wanting to do comedy. This might upset some fans, but I'm going to say it anyway: Lee, like Clint, was a master of pure cinema. He shines his brightest when he plays hard, tough guys--whether they be Western pistoleers, gangsters, American GIs, etc. Like Clint, he operates in a narrow range--but what he does well, he has no peers that upstage him. Most of this is due to his face alone--he had that great, steely squint, and Leone himself said that Lee's eyes "burned holes through the screen" (he was and IS right). I understand that Lee did not want to be typecast, but frankly, after 1968's BEYOND THE LAW and COMMANDOS, I tend to skip things like the SABATA films and EL CONDOR because there is way too much reliance on silly comedy, goofy caricactures, slapstick stuff, and stupid gimmicks (like Sabata and those ridiculous trick shooting weapons like that four-barreled Derringer) that were just poorly crafted by the writers and directors of said films. It bothers me to such an extent that I cannot ignore it--after all, Lee had done his two collaborations with Leone and Eastwood, and he himself helmed four very fine Spaghetti Westerns in which he was showcased in HIS element: as the tough, fearless, steel-eyed gunslinger. As far as I'm concerned, Lee slipped a bit in these few years--I'm glad that he received star billing in these pictures, and his acting was fine, but I don't feel he was quite as judicious as Clint was in selecting film projects. I do cut Lee slack on this point: he'd been kicking about as a bit player for even longer than Eastwood, and it wasn't until he was forty years old that he started getting the star treatment he deserved (and earned). I feel that, for Lee, he never again wanted to be in a position where he couldn't even pay his phone bill: I feel that he wanted to work and keep the money rolling in, and I respect that. Fortunately, he righted the ship in late 71 with BAD MAN'S RIVER, and in 72 with THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN RIDE.

Yes! I'm still marveling at how good THE STRANGER & THE GUNFIGHTER turned out--that's a very underrated little picture. Fortunately for Lee, he hit the note he'd been striving for: equal parts comedy and serious gunfighter.

No argument on that hideous hairpiece Lee was given for that role. Again, for me, because the story is so strong, I can overlook the myriad flaws to this film, and that's because Lee plays to his strengths as an actor in the film. Likewise, Jack Palance was perfectly cast as Sam Clayton--a tough guy like Lee needs an equal opponent; Palance, like Lee, was a big man, a WWII veteran, and a legitimate tough guy. Great casting!

MF & CT:
One thing I really like about Tony LoBianco's Breda character: this kid worships Frankie, and even though Frankie brutally dismisses him more than once, he hangs tough and still proves himself--and it struck a positive chord with Lee (Frankie). What ensues is a nifty little "Father/Son" type scenario. Also, and this was mentioned in a previous thread: the chase sequence in which Lee's Frankie is hauling ass in a flatbed Mercedes truck loaded to the gills with oil drums from the Italian border to Marseilles is spectacular, and very original--that's the first time I remember seeing someone use such a setup in a film. Bravo to the cast and crew of that film.


P.S.--Damn! Now you've made me dig up KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL from the L.V.C. Archive!

  • hi tb7Maggie, Mon Feb 19 2:52am
    Great comments! And food for thought. Yes, I would agree on 1974 - for the very reason you mentioned. I think we read repeatedly in this forum he really did want to do more comedy, so it must have... more
    • @Maggie Pt. 2 - Lee The Actor — TheBad7, Mon Feb 19 5:30am
      • tb7, are you sure...Maggie, Mon Feb 19 7:28am
        ... you meant bad man's river and not barquero (1970)? Bad man's river is a comedy and there is much more slapstick than with Sabata... Can't answer in detail at the moment, got to hop along. I'll be ... more
        • BAD MAN'S RIVERTheBad7, Mon Feb 19 8:40am
          Hi Maggie-- Oh no, I did mean BAD MAN'S RIVER--in fact, Lee's Roy King in that film reminds me of Dakota from THE STRANGER & THE GUNFIGHTER, and I liked the concept of a bank robber taking on a huge... more
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