CORBUCCI, Sergio

(1927–1990)
   Often referred to as “the other Sergio” (to Sergio Leone), Italian director Sergio Corbucci developed some of the most innovative Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. While his spaghetti Westerns may not enjoy the critical reputation of Leone’s, Corbucci was more prolific and in many ways more attuned to prevailing attitudes of the time. He began his career as a movie critic, but he soon became an assistant director on several Italian comedies and then moved on to directing low-grade comic spoofs of recent box office successes and, eventually, “peplums,” or historical muscle movies, such as Duel of the Titans (1961), a Steve Reeves movie. Django(1966) was his first significant Western, a film as important to the direction of spaghetti Westerns as Leone’s Dollars Trilogy in that it reflected the spirit of mid-century absurdist drama.
   The Great Silence (1968), however, may be Corbucci’s masterpiece. The cold, barren, landscape (supposedly in Utah) proves as menacing as the desert landscape of his other films. Silence (JeanLouis Trintignant), a mute gunfighter who had his throat cut in childhood, is hired by Pauline (Vonetta McGee) to exact revenge for the death of her husband. It is an unconventional and pessimistic film with serious political implications, much less comic than the Django Westerns.
   In the 1970s, Corbucci began issuing what he called “proletarian fables” set in revolutionary Mexico. In Companeros (1970), Franco Nero, Corbucci’s favorite lead, played the gringo caught in the clash between the revolutionaries.
   After the spaghetti and European Westerns lost popularity, Corbucci returned to comedy for his last films. He even brought Terence Hill and Bud Spencer to modern times in the slapstick film Super Fuzz (1981) about a cop with superpowers.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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