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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Big Gundown - Color Press Photos

Often regarded as LVC's best spaghetti western outside of the Leone films, presented here are color press photos from The Big Gundown.

Click on 'em to make 'em bigger!


  1. Great photos! Big Gundown is usually held as the best non Leone Italian western. It was shot in Spain with a few scenes in Italy in 1966 and Lee moved over to the film when he was done with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lee himself as stated that it went back-to-back with GB&U. Both films had the same producer and I've always wondered if Lee knew when he arrived in Europe for GB&U that he was staying for another film or if Alberto Grimaldi confirmed Lee for the film during filming of GB&U. Has anyone heard?

    More than any other film, Lee looks like he did in GB&U in this. When Lee returned to Europe in 1967 for Death Rides A Horse, he had lost more hair but he clearly knew now that he had transformed into a star in Europe. Lee said that he decided to stop doing TV work at that point because he had become a leading man but that could have been a mistake.

    After Big Gundown I was able to confirmed Lee returned to the states and went to work in New York on the dubbing of For A Few Dollars More. In early 1967 Lee returned to New York City for the dubbing of GB&U. I have no idea if Lee was in the studio for the English looping of those films the same time Clint and Eli were.

    In 1970 while on a US tour in support of El Condor, Lee told a newspaper reporter about the way most films were made in Europe and that NO sound was recorded on the sets. All of that was added later in a recording studio. Lee then commented "I always make myself available for the English version of these films. I think it is important for English speaking audiences to hear my voice".

    As we know, Lee didn't do that for God's Gun. Another person is doing Lee's voice. I've never found out exactly why. When Alan Van Cleef was posting on the board years ago, he speculated that it may not have been in his father's contract. But I doubt that to be the case. I could be wrong, but I think Lee decided to end his relationship with that film when filming ended in Israel. Maybe because of Richard Boone's incredible negative reaction to the film?

    I remember seeing an Europen film in a so called "art" theater" with Dustin Hoffman in the cast which was shot before he became a big star but released AFTER he had in the states and Hoffman did NOT do his own dubbing and it, to me, is just awful when one is used to an actor's voice and suddenly you see them with a stand in voice.

    When it's someone like Gian Maria Volonte and an American audience is not use to his actual voice and you are hearing Bernie Grant instead, it is okay. Actually to me Grant IS Volonte's voice!

    1. Great comments as always Bob!

      I feel the same way regarding Volonte's voice. I watched A Bullet For The General for the first time last night, and I specifically watched the American version as it had the voice I was familiar with!

    2. I thought that movie was pretty good. Volonte was a communist but that doesn't concern me. Volonte was a great actor. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion is also a great film starring Volonte and Bernie Grant does his voice in that one too.

      In Good, The Bad and Ugly, Grant does the Union Army Captain's voice (the blow up the bridge scene). That actor, Aldo Gu...something or other recently passed away.

      Grant also died at age 83 about five years ago but his wife Jill is still living. She dubbed Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon A Time in the West. Claudia speaks English very well but Paramount didn't like her Italian accent and hired Jill Grant (like her husband, voice over talent in New York for many commercials) to dub over Claudia's voice.

      Wonder if Claudia knew that happened? I hope so because she would have been as surprised as I was when I saw God's Gun the first time when she saw OUATITW.

    3. I believe Grant also did the voice of Morton in Once Upon a Time in the West, as well as a character in The Big Gundown. Great voice.

  2. Yes you are correct. Grant did Morton in Once Upon a Time. And I do remember him doing one in Big Gundown.I can still remember riding up and down the street in front of the downtown theater in my 1956 Chevrolet so I could look at the changeable letters on the front of the theater as it was the first time I had ever seen Lee's name up in lights. "Lee Van Cleef in The Big Gundown". You could see it in both directions for two blocks!

    Most of the dubbing was done in New York City for the English version of Italian westerns. They made the cuts to Good, Bad and Ugly in Rome that United Artists demanded so the film would run under 2 hours BEFORE it was dubbed. That is why they had to do new dubbing when they added the missing scenes when they made an English version to match the longer Italian and Spanish versions. That DVD version is the ONLY one I watch now.