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Saturday, July 7, 2018

French Return of Sabata Clipping

French article from around the time of Return of Sabata.  It looks like the picture may have been taken earlier (I really dig the Beyond The Law shot in the upper right).  Translation below pics (Thanks, Maggie!).

Full images below.  Click to enlarge!

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.


  1. Wonder who the women are? Yes Lee looks really cool in Beyond the Law, a film I wondered if I would ever see. It and Commandos didn't find a release in the US until years after they were shot. I think it was 1974 when I fist saw Beyond the Law on the CBS late movie on TV.

    I can't translate but it seems to focus on Lee's success in Europe after starring with Clint in Sergio Leone's For A Few Dollars More. A little background on Lee being contacted by Stanley Kramer for High Noon. There is some focus on Frank Kramer.

    I think Return of Sabata was shot in Yugoslavia with interiors in Rome soon after Lee was in two films shot entirely in Spain for Scotia International, a company that was involved in several westerns shot in Spain in 1970 and 1971 and none were particularly good in spite of hiring a number of noted actors including Lee in two of them, Carol Baker, Stuart Whitman, James Mason, Robert Shaw, Clint Walker, Telly Salavas, Chuck Conners etc.

  2. Wife and daughter it says. I could translate if you aren't in a hurry, but it will take some time as I am snowed under with work. I just skimmed through the article so far, it is rather nice!

  3. Voilà: http://disc.yourwebapps.com/discussion.cgi?disc=148193;article=36041;title=Lee%20Van%20Cleef%20Web%20Board