Welcome to theBad.net Lee Van Cleef Blog! Here you will find information, photos, videos, and some of my opinions of the badman himself.

Many thanks to the wonderful members of theBad.net Lee Van Cleef Web Board for their contributions and continued enthusiasm!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Blu-ray Compare - Sabata





Currently there are two Sabata blu-rays on the market that play on US players.  One put out domestically by Kino Lorber Studios, and a second put out for international markets by Swiss label, Explosive Media.  Both are roughly the same price (around $20-$25).

I have previously reviewed the Explosive Media version here.  This blog entry while serving as a comparison between the two, will also serve as my review of the Kino version as there is little to report on as far as a difference to the overall presentation of the film 

The most important aspect of any comparison is the image quality.  I am pleased to say that both labels showcase a very nice print.  In fact it is the same print as it shows the exact same print damage on both discs.  Color is a bit different however, with the Explosive version being a bit darker and the Kino version running brighter with slightly more noticeable grain.

Below are some screen grabs showcasing the difference in the color timing between the two transfers.

Click to enlarge.

Kino transfer

Explosive Media transfer


Kino transfer
Explosive Media transfer

While both discs have a main feature that looks great, the main difference between the two is that the Kino version is a bare bones release, only including a trailer, while Explosive Media's is a special feature extravaganza!
  • Lee Van Cleef Westerns - a large collection of original trailers from LVC's spaghetti western career.
  • Original English-language trailer for Sabata
  • Trailers for other Explosive Media releases.
  • Documentary - His Name is Sabata - Italian film historian Fabio Melelli and Director Gianfranco Parolini discuss the making of the film.
  • Promotional Materials / Various lobby cards, posters, etc... set to the soundtrack of the film

Below is a overview of the comparison.


Studio: Kino Lober
Language: English
Subtitles: None
Region: A
Number of discs: 1

Amazon.com link




THE GOOD:
Great image quality
Better availability in the US

THE BAD:
No subtitles.  English only language
Only extra is a trailer


Studio: Explosive Media
Language: English, Italian, German
Subtitles: Italian
Region: A/B/C disc 1 (feature), Region 2 PAL disc 2 (feature) and 3 (extras)
Number of discs: 3


Amazon.de link



THE GOOD:
Great image quality
Many extras!

THE BAD:
Extras are on region 2 DVDs, not compatible with most US players.
To sum up both discs are great, but the Explosive Media edition is nicer package with it's many extras, provided you have a region free dvd player for them.  Both are highly recommended for LVC fans!

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Lee Van Cleef Interview - European Trash Cinema - 1982

European Trash Cinema 21
THE LEE VAN CLEEF INTERVIEW
CONDUCTED BY MAX ALLAN COLLINS

When I heard Lee Van Cleef was being brought in as
one of the celebrities at an area golf tournament, 1 rushed
to the phone to arrange an interview. Not only had Lee
Van Cleef been my favorite actor for longer than I care to
remember (did you drive fifty miles to see Death Rides A
Horse at a drive-in?), I went so far as to pattern Nolan,
the anti-hero of my first novel. Bait Money (1973), after
the Van Cleef screen persona. That novel led to a series
of Nolan novels; so, by interviewing Van Qeef, I’d be
meeting one of ray heroes - in more ways than one.  
Van Cleef's leading role in a local production of Heaven
Can Wait back east led to a role in the louring company
of Mr Roberts, which brought him to Los Angeles and to
the attention of Stanley Kramer. The role that followed -
in High Noon (Fred Zinneraann, 1952), which opens on
his face - marked the first in a long line of memorable
Van Cleef heavies in ’50s crime films and westerns.  
With Neville Brand and Jack Elam he made up one third
of the sinister trio who made John Payne’s life miserable
in Kansas City Confidential (Phil Karlson, 1952); and he
and Earl Holliman made Cornell Wilde’s life equally
miserable in the haunting film noir. The Big Combo
(1955), directed by Joseph L. Lewis, of Gun Crazy fame.
An Indo-Chinese "commie" in Sara Fuller’s China Gate
(1957) was a change of pace for Van Cleef from such
typically menacing gunman types as those he portrayed in
Gunfight At The OK Corral (John Slurges, 1957), Ride
Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959) and The Man Who
Shot Liberty Valance (John Ford, 1962). Such minor, but
memorable, roles made Van Qeef a virtual icon of the
Hollywood western, undoubtedly leading to his
breakthrough leading role in Sergio Leone’s Italian
western. For A Few Dollars More (1965).  
From this (and it’s 1966 follow-up. The Good, The Bad
And The Ugly, in which he did not repeal his sympathetic
bounty-hunter role but rather played perhaps his vilest
villain, the 'bad" of the title) came stardom, and major
roles in tailor-made Italian westerns, and many American
films as well. 
At the time of this interview (Summer of 1982), he’d
more recently been seen in the Chuck Norris film. The
Octagon (Eric Karson, 1980), and Escape From New York
(John Carpenter, 1981) in which he played opposite Kurt
Russell, whose Eastwood-like performance troubled those
critics not observant enough to get the in-joke. 
After a hot afternoon on the golf course, amid a hectic,
harried, demanding schedule. Van Cleef - with only an
hour to freshen up and drive crosstown to a live TV
interview, half of that time to sit and chat with me
about his films, with an ease and graciousness that belied
his often-sinisler screen image. A tall, rugged-looking man,
more youthful in person than on the screen, Lee Van
Cleef was an affable enigma - a no-nonsense "tough guy"
riglit out of his movies - who in his spare time enjoys
painting and art (a subject we unfortunately did not have
time to explore).  
He seemed vital and healthy, and the notion that he
might be gone, in a few short years, never occurred to me.
I’m glad I had the chance, however briefly, to meet with
him. 

INTERVIEW
It seems to me you've kind of reversed the typical pattern -
the Hollywood leading man usually ages gracefully into a
character actor, but you’re a character actor who aged
gracefully into a leading player. Was that something you set
out to do? Or did it just evolve?
Well, that depends on what you mean when you say"character actor." I mean, they’re all character actors, ailof ’em, leading men or whatever. So we’ve got amisnomer, there
Basically, everybody’s playing a character because we’reacting. So we’re doing somebody else, which is a character,and that’s characterization, right? You take the roles youlike, or you take what you can get, it depends on thesituation... if you can take what you like, fine, then youdon’t take the things you don’t care to play. Now, I’ll playthe heavy - or the villain, whatever you want to call it - I’llplay that just as fast as I’ll play a leading man. Again, itdepends upon the script. It depends on the story.

You’ve worked with a list of directors that sounds like the
Director’s Hall Of fame - people like Raoul Walsh, Robert
Wise, Samuel Fuller, Anthony Mann, John Ford, of course
Sergio Leone. Not too long ago you worked with John
Carpenter, on Escape From New York. How did working with
him compare to working with the old pros?
Beautiful ! Absolutely beautiful. He knew what he wanted;he got what he wanted. He had a manner of handling people that was absolutely beautiful. I felt like 1 was working with an old pro. He is a pro - the fact that he was younger, well... I respect the young.

Speaking of directors, some of the movies you made in the
1950s - which then might’ve been considered B movies or
programmers - had directors like Budd Boetticher and Joseph
E. Lewis, who’ve really come to be highly regarded in recent
years. When you see a movie like Ride Lonesome or say. The
Big Combo, being taken very seriously these days, do you
think, "It’s about time we got some credit for the good work"
or do you sometimes feel they’re coming back to haunt
you?
Haunt me? No, not at all. I feel the public is accepting mediocrity these days - and when you see the old movies,you see what it’s possible to do on a small budget. So it doesn’t haunt me. The only thing that hurts is the fact that they don’t have the quality in the new movies. Some of them do, I guess... but they’re the exception today.

Well, The Big Combo has really gotten to have quite a
reputation.  And the characters you and Earl Holliman played are
considered classic heavies. 
I wasn’t aware of it. I didn’t know it made any kind of come-back.
I've read that Clint Eastwood has said that the Man With
No Name character in A Fistful Of Dollar (1964) and the
other Leone movies was something he, to a degree, de\'ehped
himself. And I wondered if the Man In Black character in
For A Few Dollars More was something you developed
yourself to a similar degree?
Well, when you read a script you try to visualize it. And when you go working with a director that doesn’t speak good English, nor do I speak Italian, you gotta kinda get along together. So I did what I wanted to do, and if he didn’t like it, he corrected me - that is, when I could understand him. And I really tried to. But we’d do it with gestures, and finally I began to learn a little bit of his language, and he mine. In fact, when we did the second one, when we did The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, we didn’t even use an interpreter on the set. As far as characterization is concerned, I don’t believe he ever changed any of my concepts.
For example, the wardrobe - how much of that was your
idea?
None. In fact, I balked on some of it. I thought it was alittle outlandish, but I wasn’t used to this operatic Italianapproach. I found after I got into it, after I was into thecharacter and that sort of thing, I liked it. I liked themachismo. It was probably a little dressier than what mayhave been worn back then... I don’t know, I wasn’t aroundin 18-something. But I think it kind of fit the guy, and Ibegan to enjoy what the Italians were doing, and theattitudes and everything that went into their filmmaking.They ultimately made a kind of western that we nevermade in the United States. The dirt and the crud and thenihilistic characters are something we avoided. If you lookat some of the Errol Flynn westerns and some of theother ones —
Very clean-cut.
Yes. Precisely. They’re polished. They’re too sparklingclean. But the Italians brought the realism to the genre.
Something else that seems to have come out of the Italian
Westerns, is the dark humor, to various degrees.
-(Nodding) Yeah.

It seems to me that e\’en before the Italian Westerns, you
always brought a certain land of wry, masculine sense of
humor to what you were doing
-(Laughs) Perhaps I thought they were funny.

This is a possibility. (Van Cleef laughs again.) But even in
movies like Death Rides A Horse (Giuilo Petroni, 1969) and
The Big Gundown (Sergio Sollima, 1968), there’s black
humor; and then in the Sabaia films, besides the dark
humor, there's a kind of "James Bond" spoofing.
Yeah. Yeah. You caught it, because what we’retrying to do is more or less right on the borderlineof tongue-in-cheek. Sometimes we went a little bitmore than tongue-in-cheek, but it was on theborderline at least.

In El Condor (John Guillerman, 1970) there’s even
certain elements of slapstick humor—
There’s a lot of comedy in El Condor. Almostslapstick. Yes.

Even in a movie like Barquero (Gordon Douglas,
1970), with you and Forrest Tucker, there’s alot of
humorous by-play going on.
There was some by-play off the screen, too. If youever worked with Forrest Tucker, you know what Imean, he’s quite a guy.

So, is humor something you look for in a script?
I do, because I look for more than one dimensionin a character, I like to get humor, I like to get alittle sympathy going for him if I can - some scriptsmake that virtually impossible - for instance, I don’tsee much sympathy for my character in The Good,The Bad And The Ugly.

But in For A Few Dollars More—
In For A Few Dollars More you can find the synipatliy.But he wasn’t a heavy, either. He was just a bountyhunter.

Getting back to the Sabata movies, for a minute - 1 know
of two. Were there more?
I only made two (Sabata, 1970; Return Of Sabata, 1972).
Both were directed by Gianfranco Parolini.)

Were there others in the series?
There was another one that Yul Brynner did instead ofme. (Adios, Sabata 1971)

And, ironically, you did Yul Brynner’s character once, too.
In a remake of Magnificent 7 {The Magnificent Seven Ridel,
1972).
That’s absolutely right, I was getting around to that;everytime the Sabata movies are brought up I mentionthat. You were ahead of me. I didn’t like the script to theSabata that Brynner did. So I turned it down —

Was the Brynner Sabata movie also directed by Parolini?
Yeah. He’s quite a stylish director. Gianfranco Parolini.But he signs his name as "Frank Kramer" to all hisproductions, enjoyed working with him.

You’ve been one of the big box office stars in Europe for
years. Are there many films made over there that haven’t
been released here in the United States yet?
There are quite a few. Although it’s very confusing.There’s a war story I don’t think has been released here.At least I’m not aware of it.

Could that be Commandos? With Jack Kelly?
Yes. I think that’s the title.

{Editor note: Unfortunately, many Lee Van Cleef films
remain unreleased on video in the United States, including
such classic Spaghetti Westerns as The Big Gundown and
Sabata.)

Did you dub your own voice for the films you made in
Europe?
Yeah. I think I dubbed everything myself. Yeah, I’m sureof it.

Let me ask you about Lee Van Cleef and posterity. Okay?
(Laughs) Okay.

You have been in a certain number of movies that by
almost any yardstick are classics; in fact, your very first 
movie, High Noon, is generally considered one of the greatest. 
Yeah. It is.

I don’t think anyone would argue that a John Ford movie
like Liberty Valance is anything to take lightly; Gunfight At
The OK Corral is a heavyweight; the two Leone movies are
already considered classics. As I say, some of the
programmers, too • you may be surprised to even consider
The Big Combo —
I’m still surprised about that one.

Ride Lonesome, even Kansas City Confidential—
I’d like to see that one come back; a cute little film. 

These are movies that are being talked about alot. Have you
ever reflected on the notion that a hundred years from now
some people may be sitting and looking at your performances
and enjoying them?
If I’m still here. I’ll still be making ’em. I’m watching alotof films starring friends of mine who have passed away -the movies are still here, which makes them here, as far asI’m concerned.