Translation of the French article Aaron posted on the blog
Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:38am


Tuesday, December 2nd

FRANCE 3 (French public TV Station)
Return of Sabata
A film by Frank Kramer with Lee Van Cleef

Lee Van Cleef: It is more difficult to play heavies than romantic characters

He is a bit like the James Bond of the Wild West. His name is Sabata. Tonight, we will witness his "return" in Frank Kramers movie. He has got the sharp cut features of Lee Van Cleef who became famous acting in "Spaghetti Westerns" alongside with Clint Eastwood. With the satisfaction of an owner he talks about the hero he is incorporating: "Sabata", he says, " is different from all shooters of the West. He really is a killer who is amused by everything. James Bond and Sabata think about killing in almost the same way, but above all they both have a whole arsenal of firearms that gives both an enormous tactical superiority above their enemies. Both killers are not divided by more than a hundred years. Bond is working in the second half of the 20th century, Sabata in the second half of the 19th. Everybody, even everybody he tries to kill, is aware of the fact that James Bond is a British secret agent, but nobody knows who Sabata is, whether he works for the government or for himself. He is a very mysterious man.

"Return of Sabata" (1972) is a follow up of "Sabata" which was filmed in 1970. A first Italian movie called "Indio Black" and starring Yul Brynner already mentioned Sabata. The success of both others resulted in it being renamed "Adios Sabata". Before meeting Sabata, Lee Van Cleef already enjoyed a long Western History. This experience helps him to confirm that this role is quite different from US Western heroes. "I could make him something bigger than life", he proudly says.

Lee Van Cleef already played more than 400 roles as gangsters on TV and on the silver screen. The Hollywood Producer Stanley Kramer - who is not related with Frank Kramer - told him one day that he would have to have his nose corrected if he wanted to play an important role in "High Noon" with Gary Cooper (1952). "I refused", he told us. "And I played one of the four baddies. Today, I am happy I did not change it, now people have got something to pin their memories on and won't forget me."

Having become one of the most unsettling heavies in Hollywood almost from one day to the next, Van Cleef deserves to reclaim his soubriquet as "the man you love to hate" and he specialized in playing this kind of character.

He owes this new turn in his career to Alberto Grimaldi, the pioneer of the Italian Western. He made him come to Rome for "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" which followed "For a few Dollars more". Sergio Leone, director of both films, thought that Lee Van Cleef had just the face he was looking for. "That really hit me", Van Cleef said, "What can I do about my face? An actor likes to think that his talent is appreciated and not his face."

Primitive Westerns

However, his enormous international success reconciled him. Lee Van Cleef stayed in Rome and became rich...

"I starred in six European films" he said, "and don't get me wrong: The lead character is not the handsome guy. I am not interested in romantic characters, I think it is more meaningful to play heavies. They need more creativity. And you make more money. There is an endless number of romantic actors in Hollywood. But it is rather difficult to find a heavy. And I can say that I am very convincing. Never mind if people dislike me. I enjoy playing these roles. Without any doubt Italian Westerns are primitive, but they are much richer in inventions than Hollywood Westerns. The Italians have borrowed our techniques, but when they use situations that have evolved into clichés, they do so in a more colourful style.

Elisabeth MISSLAND

Caption: Bandit, killer or gangster on TV, Lee Van Cleef is a sweet and sensitive family father with his wife and daughter.

Frank Kramer: The man for great flicks
"The producers gave me my German name. I have kept it" says Frank Kramer (see photo), who has worked a lot in Germany. His real name is Gianfranco Parolini and he lives in Rome. He is not a cinematographer like the others. He is modest and restrained, and at 19 years old he started as an assistant of Léonide Moguy and then of Julien Duvivier. He himself has made more than 50 films in 30 years, and in Italy where he has started to film a big movie - The Ten Gladiators - he is known as the man for great flicks. He is happy to say: "It is an amusing and simple movie for children and families. No blood, no violence. For 30 years I have made unusual films and I refuse to follow the mainstream. I want to stay true and honest and not become a bad educator. - Also note that he has got a cameo in "Return of Sabata" as a clown.

    • I'll those THX! ;)DCG, Sat Jul 14 4:57pm
      Did you personally translate that, or was it thru a software program? Reason I ask, is I noticed some incongruities, in terms of syntax (in English)... ;P (Hope you know me well enuff, Maggs, that... more
      • All hand-craftedMaggie, Sun Jul 15 12:51am
        My bad if there are syntax errors, as you know I am not a native speaker of either language. This isn't machine translated, partly because it is a bit map and cannot be fed into machine translation... more
    • French, TranslatedLVCFAN, Sat Jul 14 12:15pm
      Maggie - Thanks so much for the trnaslation of that article! Anything more I can learn about LVC makes me happy!
      • TatooLVCFAN, Sun Jul 15 12:27pm
        DCG: I found the photo of the woman's tatoo: This is the link - it's quite a ways down the site, but it's there.... more
    • Thanks!!! I’ll add it to the blog post.
      • Thank you!Maggie, Sun Jul 15 12:52am
        It might be a good idea for you to smooth over the grammar and spelling first, see DCG's comment... ;)
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