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 fans of theBad.net for their contributions and continued enthusiasm!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Obituary - Variety

Lee Van Cleef, character actor/star, dead at 64

Hollywood - Lee Van Cleef, 64, character actor who made an indelible impression as a tough villain in numerous Westerns and gangster films before becoming an international star in Italian Westerns in the 1960s, died Dec. 14 in Oxnard, Calif. of an apparent heart attack.

Born Jan. 9, 1925 in Somerville, N.J. of Dutch ancestry, he worked at odd jobs following service in the navy during World War II. After appearing in amateur stage productions in New Jersey of ''Our Town'' and ''Heaven Can Wait", he landed a role in the road company of ''Mr. Roberts'' in 1951.

Stanley Kramer saw him in the play and cast Van Cleef in his film production 'High Noon," directed by Fred Zinnemann. Van Cleef played a small but attention-getting role as one of the four gunslingers catching a train to have a showdown with sheriff Gary Cooper in the 1952 classic, which set the course the the young actor's screen career as a villain.

Yet is was another 1952 film, Phil Karlson's excellent gangster picture ''Kansas City Confidential,'' that eventually led to Van Cleef's belated breakthrough over a decade later. He played one of a trio of ruthless henchmen (opposite Neville Brand and Jack Elam) in the John Payne-starrer that greatly impressed a young Italian assistant director. Sergio Leone.

Apart from American Westerns, "Kansas City'' had the greatest influence in the style and structure of Leone's breakthrough Italian Westerns in the mid-'60s and he cast Van Cleef in two of them opposite Clint Eastwood, ''For A Few Dollars More'' and ''The Good, The Bad And The Ugly.''
It was a long trek until stardom, however, as he played supporting roles in over 40 feature films in just five years after his "High Noon" debut.

Roger Corman cast Van Cleef in his first leading role in 1956 in the well-remembered sci-fi picture '"It Conquered The World'' in which he had a chance to play a misguided good guy for a change, duped by a monster from Venus.
Van Cleef immediately returned to supporting roles, usually as a heavy, in such features as the Martin & Lewis comedy '"Pardners," Dick Powell's ill-fated John Wayne costumer "'I'he Conqueror," Robert Wise's James Cagney Western ''Tribute To A Bad Man," and John Sturges' classic "Gunfight At The O.K. Corral.''
Moving into the '60's, Van Cleef had roles in important Westerns including Henry King's "The Bravados," the Cinerama epic "How The West Was Won,'' Bud Boetticher's "Ride Lonesome" and John Ford's watershed pic ''The Man Who Shot Liberry Valance.''

As the big-screen action film went into decline he found employment in TV, guestarring on shows ranging from Westerns to 'The Twilight Zone '' After a 3 year absence from theatrical films his breakthrough came in 1965 when Sergio Leone cast him opposite another refugee from tv, Clint Eastwood in ''For A Few Dollars More," the followup to Leone's ''A Fistful Of Dollars.''

In 1966 he encored far Leone as the sadistic villain of "The Good,The Bad, And The Ugly," opposite Eastwood and Eli Wallach. The two Leone films made him an international star and upon their release by United Artists in American in 1967, he became a star on his home turf as well.

Since Eastwood quickly returned to Hollywood following his Italian success Van Cleef was in great demand to topline ItalianWesterns. Sergio Sollima's ''The Big Gundown'' was a weil-received political Western, followed by more routine efforts ''Day Of Anger,'' "Death Rides A Horse,'' ''Beyond The Law" and Frank Kramer's stylish ''Sabata."

Back home he was a good guy Western hero in "Barquero'' and "El Condor,'' followed by a return to European-lensed Westerns including Alexandcr Singer's ''Captain Apache," Eugenio Martin's ''Bad Man's River" and Kramer's sequel ''The Return Of Sabata."

Ironically, in 1972 Van Cleef took over Yul Brynner's leading role in the American Western "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" following Brynner's filling in for Kramer in Van Cleef's role in the second Sabata film, "Adios, Sabata'' (Van Cleef starred in No. 1 and 3 of the Sabata features). He returned to Europe for "The Grand Duel "

Back home he starred as a modern-day U.S. marshal protecting gangster Tony Musante in Jack Starrett's telefilm ''Nowhere To Hide'' and then returned to Europe for the actioners ''The Perfect Killer" and "The Squeeze," last named directed by Antonio Margheriti and costarring Karen Black. In 1979 he starred in the British tv movie "The Hard Way."

In 1980 he moved back toward the mainstream with character roles supporting Chuck Norris in "The Octagon" and Kurt Russell in John Carpenter's ''Escape From New York". Heart disease temporarily sidelined his career (he had a pacemaker installed).

He returned in 1983 to star in the Short-lived martial arts tv series "The Master,'' followed by lowercase feature films ''The Killing Machine," ''Codename Wildgeese," ''Captain Yankee,'' ''Armed Response,'' ''The Commander'' and ''May The Best Man Win." His final film appearance was in the 1989 "Speed Zone."

Survived by his wife, Barbara.

Variety, December 20, 1989

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Master - TV Guide Ads

Below are a few local TV listing promoting episodes of The Master.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Candid LVC Photos

Here are some more pics of Lee from around his house.  Late 1970's I would imagine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

1978 Interview by Alex Cox

Interview by Alex Cox.

I came into this town in a stage play called Mr. Roberts. Stanley Kramer saw it an put me in this picture called High Noon The first time I went into his office he told me to fix my nose and I told him to go ... himself. So he told me that instead of playing the second leads I would have to play one of the silent heavies. I said, "Fine - Silent is the best way I play." In fact, in the middle of the picture, Fred Zimmeman, the director said "I want you to say howdy or something to Ian Macdonald as he's getting down of the train." And I said I didn't think I should - I've been playing the silent type and if I open my mouth one iota the power of my character will be destroyed. He agreed with me. Most actors like to talk, I don't. I read scripts and cut the dialog down to the bare essentials. I've always done that.

Is that what you'd call your approach to acting?

There is no approach to acting other than sharpening your tools. You learn how to use a sword, stunt fighting, how to use your voice, how to dance - all this is sharpening your tools. It's a basic necessity for all actors. But I don't think many actors are doing that today.

Of the American parts you played, which were you the happiest with?
I got happiness out of every damn one I did. I'm not just saying that to sound off - I really did. Even the old Range Rider series, and Space Patrol on tv. I got knocked out in one - some old actor hit me in the head with a plastic gun and down I went. And we were doing that live.

How did you meet Sergio Leone?

Leone came over in 1965, looking for two actors he had in mind for his second western. The moment we met up he said, "That's it - That's the guy who's going to play Colonel Mortimer in For A Few Dollars More" Well I wasn't going to argue with him - Hell, I couldn't pay my phone bill at the time. I went over and did it, payed my phone bill, and exactly a year later to the day - August 12th - I was called back to do The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. And back-to-back with that I made The Big Gundown. But now instead of making Seventeen thousand dollars I was making a hundred-and-something. And that was Leone's doing, not mine. And I was doing leads and heavies in Italy from then on.

What was the set of an Italian western like?
It was a lot of fun. I tried to learn the languages - Italian, Spanish, and German - not to successfully. Working on a European set isn't a hell of a lot different from working on an American set. I think the Europeans are a lot more spontaneous, more artistic to some degree. But I don't think they have the technical talent we do here in the states. Here people have been trained much more specifically - they know exactly what they're doing. The Europeans are perhaps slower, but in the end damn near as good.

How did the characters you played differ from the ones in the original scripts?
The one area I disagreed with in the italian scripts was dialog. There was too much of it. I'd be given a half god-damn page of dialog to read; and, look, I can get this across in two words. Maybe it's a difference in the languages, but I had to rewrite every damn scene I was in. I reduced the whole thing - changed to a "Hello" or a "Pardon me, ma'am." A lot of actors think that the more lines they have the more attention they get. That's bullshit. I make people look at me. I don't have to say a lot of words.

Did Leone speak much English in the early days?
On For A Few Dollars More, no. He did the next year. Now he speaks it almost fluently. But it caused no problems - I understood exactly what he wanted. It was an instictive thing. He demonstrated a little bit, and there was always an interpreter on the set. But I knew from the script what was expected of me. The next year, he'd learned more english and we got along even better. He would walk through what he wanted done, then I'd do it my way... and he always accepted the difference.

Did the italian directors play music on the set?
I never experienced that. But Leone did play Morricone scores for me, beforehand. It didn't help me anyway. I'm not going to act to music unless I'm doing a musical.

Did making two films back-to-back create any problems?
No. Different parts doesn't mean a thing - not for somebody who thinks he's an actor. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly was strictly a heavy, just a mean son of a bitch - nasty because he could smile doing it. The Big Gundown was a surly character, but not a heavy. The guys behind me in the picture wanted me to be a politician, but I had no aspirations and I erased that from my mind as an actor.

Do you have any regrets about the italian films you made?
No. I don't care where I work. Films are an international business - not an American institution. You go where the work is. It can be in my own back yard, Israel, Spain, or Yugoslavia. We may have the greatest technical efficiency in the world, but our artistic values are not necessarily the best.

You rate the art direction in a European picture?

Yes. And the timing. Editing is really where Leone's at the top. His timing is great. Our directors are involved in editing, but they don't do it. Leone does it himself, he's inspired by it, and he had me come into the editing room while he was putting together The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly, to show me something he had done. It was a beautiful experience.

Did he ask you to be in Once Upon A Time in the West?
I turned it down. I don't remember exactly why. I didn't like the way it was written.

What about the circus westerns, like the Sabata films?

They're sort-of-serious westerns, but they hinge on being spoofs. I enjoyed them, but they weren't like the Leone films. I don't think it was Parolini's fault - it was as much a fault of the script. I did as good as I could. But if things aren't in the script you can't direct them and you sure can't act them. You can try to add on to it as best you can, but if it's not there in the first place you have a wee bit of a problem. They looked like they were going to be alright. I turned down Indio Black and they got Yul Brynner instead. I didn't like it when I saw it on tv.

Around that time you made Barquero.
Barquero was done in Colorado. Jack Sparr was going to direct it, but he was killed during location hunting, in a plane crash. Gordon Douglas took over, he's a good speed director, makes good television shows; and Warren Oates wasn't anything to sneeze at. But... I think Forrest Tucker and I goofed on that one.

You wouldn't play another role like that?

I'd like to do more comedy, but i think my forte is still in the heavy. I'd love to do a comic lead, a musical.

You paint in your spare time, so you obviously have an eye for composition. Have you ever considered directing?
Definitely. My brother-in-law's got a script i would love to direct. It's a half-ass comedy called Wet Paint. I'd play one of the two parts - Wet Paint himself or a guitar player who comments on the action. And if I could direct it I would be very happy. But the economics of business don't always allow you to do what you want. Clint Eastwood's directing films though.... We'll see what happens.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

eBay Watch: Hollywood Reporter's 50th Anniversary Trade Ad

From time to time I will post interesting items that I see on eBay that would be of interest to a LVC fan. These are not endorsements of the sellers, just merely my observations of interesting or rare items.

This is an example of The Hollywood Reporter's 50th Anniversary Trade Ad from 1980.  I imagine there were a number of these with different celebrities.


Approx. 8.5 x 11.5 in. [21 x 30 cm.]
Condition Graded: Fine

Buy It Now at $9.95

Thursday, September 20, 2012

LVC at Corral de la Morería

Here is an interesting pic I found


Corral de la Morería, was started by Manuel del Rey in 1956, and is the most known tablao flamenco in the world.

Throughout its history, Corral de la Morería flamenco show has witnessed the perfomance of some of the finest professionals of this discipline, including: Pastora Imperio, La Chunga, María Albaicín, El Güito, Mario Maya, Manuela Vargas, Lucero Tena, Isabel Pantoja, Antonio Gades and Blanca del Rey, not to mencion an endless numbre of singers, guitarist and dancers.

It's location is priviledged, as it is in the centre of Madrid - next to the Royal Palace, in the main historic quarters of the city -, its decoration, the arabic corbels and streetlamps dating from the 18th and 19th C recreate a setting reminiscent of the original tablao flamenco, that takes you back in time.

Considered as the "Cathedral of flamenco art" of Spain, this establishment is frequently visited by well-known celebrities visiting Madrid, therefore don't be surprised should you find yourself seated by the King of Spain, Government Presidents or famous international artists.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

El Condor - NY Times Movie Review - June 1970

Published: June 20, 1970
"El Condor," which opened yesterday at the Forum Theater, is a movie that almost nobody involved seems to have taken seriously — neither the writers, nor the director, nor the actors—with the possible exception of the explosives expert. For unlike everything else in the film, the explosions, which are fairly numerous, are surprising, precise and occasionally spectacular.

Once, during an artillery barrage leveled at the momentarily defenseless leads (Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef), the detonating shells literally take over the screen and seem to provide their own dumb reason for being.

Brown and Van Cleef play a pair of adventurers who, with a band of renegade Apaches, besiege a fabled fortress called El Condor, in which the treasury of Maximilian's Mexico is supposed to hoard its vast reserves of gold.

In time, they learn that all that glitters is not, etc.; but on the way they suffer a few indignities, outwit a few fools, fall in and out of troubles—almost enough to make a movie. Eventually Van Cleef ends up dead and Brown ends up with Mariana Hill, simmering ex-mistress of Patrick O'Neal, iron-willed commandant of El Condor, who also ends up dead.

From time to time in "El Condor" there is introduced a certain amount of female nudity, which probably indicates a trend and certainly makes the film different from the general run of Westerns you may have enjoyed as a child.

The nudity is more than sufficiently integrated into the plot—as at the sexual-military climax, when Miss Hill, who has gone crazy for Jim Brown, though she has scarcely spoken to him, strips for her love.

To distract the guards of the fortress, she throws open her balcony door before undressing for the night—and while part of the cast of hundreds gapes in admiration, the other part of the cast (the Brown-Van Cleef-Apache part) come from behind and strangle them and slit their throats and otherwise silently slaughter them.

The pointed juxtaposition of sex and slaughter that particularizes this otherwise mostly mindless movie, introduces a measure of perverse brutality that is more vicious in fact than may appear from a simple description. I think it is the mindlessness more than the violence that makes for my discomfort, for "El Condor" lacks either the prurience or prudery to support its more sensational gestures.

When you create a vacuum, in art as in nature, something ambles in to fill the empty spaces, and in the void that is "El Condor" that something is a death that chills desire.

EL CONDOR, directed by John Guiliermin; screenplay by Larry Cohen and Steven Carabatsos, based on a story by Mr. Carabatsos; director of photography Henri Persin; music by Maurice Jarre; produced by Andre de Toth; released by National General Pictures. At the Forum Theater, Broadway at 47th Street. Running time: 102 minutes. (The Motion Picture Association of America's Production Code and Rating Adminstration classifies this film: "R—restricted, persons under 17 require accompanying parent or adult guardian.")

Luke . . . . . Jim Brown
Jaroo . . . . . Lee Van Cleef
Chavez . . . . . Patrick O'Neal
Claudine . . . . . Mariana Hill
Santana . . . . . Iron Eyes Cody
Dolores . . . . . Imogen Hassall
Old Convict . . . . . Elisha Cook Jr.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Cinema Retro Sergio Leone Special Issue

The Cinema Retro Sergio Leone Special Issue is something I recently picked up on eBay.  This is probably the most interesting series of articles I have seen on the Dollars films.  Of course there is some great LVC coverage as well. 

  • Full coverage of 'A Fistful of Dollars', 'For a Few Dollars More' and 'the Good, the Bad and the Ugly' - and why these films remain timeless cinematic classics.
  • 80 full pages (16 pages more than the standard Cinema Retro issue)
  • Packed with hundreds of rare production stills, collectibles and international movie poster art culled from archives from around the world.
  • Many photos never before published - including rare behind the scenes production stills from people who acted as extras in 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'
  • Special foreword by Leone biographer Sir Christopher Frayling
  • The legendary film locations - then and now
  • Coverage of the rare, deleted sequences
  • Cast and crew biographies

  • The issue can be bought directly from their eBay Store
    $14.95 shipped in US/Canada
    $19.95 everywhere else

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    LVC VHS Flashback!

    Back in the early 1990's when I first got into LVC, many of the films were only available on VHS budget titles.  This meant that they were often poor quality prints recorded on a slow speed VHS tape (thus lower quality as they took up less tape). 

    Many times due to rights issues, these films were given new titles (some similar to the original, some not).  Usually the cover image of LVC was not from the actual film!

    Here is a look at some of those cheap 90's VHS LVC videos!  See if you can figure out the original titles!


    Saturday, September 8, 2012

    eBay Watch: LVC Autographs

    From time to time I will post interesting items that I see on eBay that would be of interest to a LVC fan. These are not endorsements of the sellers, just merely my observations of interesting or rare items.

    There are a number of LVC autographs on eBay this week. 

    The Good

    This is a really cool photo from Take a Hard Ride.  A shot I have not seen before.  Opening bid is $49.89.


    Next, a classic Sabata shot.  A little pricey, but one bid could take this at $149.00
    The Bad
    Beware of this autograph.  This is a fake signature.
    Fake signature!
    The Ugly
    If your name is warren and you have a hairpiece fetish, this is the photo for you!

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    LVC WTF?

    Found this on another site.  Cute...

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    Big Gundown Coming to Blu-Ray (Germany)

    October 12th will bring us the release of The Big Gundown on Blu-ray! 

    It looks to be Region B, with German, English, and Italian audio tracks. Listed as uncut at 110 minutes. 1 blu-ray disc, 2 DVD discs (1 movie, 1 bonus materials)

    amazon.de link

    Extras look to be (my rough translation)
    * 24 Page Booklet
    * Documentary? with Sollima and Milian
    * Trailer
    * Lee Van Cleef Trailer Reel
    * Soundtrack

    Click to enlarge!


    Sunday, September 2, 2012

    eBay Watch: Power Kill Photo

    From time to time I will post interesting items that I see on eBay that would be of interest to a LVC fan. These are not endorsements of the sellers, just merely my observations of interesting or rare items.

    This was an interesting photo from Mean Frank and Crazy Tony, aka Power Kill.  I've never seen this shot before so it may be of some interest to everyone.

    A little pricey at $21.88, but how many eBay sellers do you know that will show the back of a photo on a listing!