released in 2013 on BEAT records.
1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO.
(AKA BLOOD AT SUNDOWN)
Released in 1966, 1000 DOLLARI SULL NERO was not only an entertaining piece of cinema but also it was to become a key production within the genre of the Italian produced western. This was the movie that introduced us to the character SARTANA or at least the name of a character that became one of the prominent protagonists within the genre and one that would feature in a number of later productions. The Sartana featured in 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO however is not a real pre-cursor to the Sartana that we all know and love, this character is a violent and unmerciful being that lashes out and utilizes cruelty and spills blood to achieve his goals in life. Gianni Garko proves that he is an actor of worth with his portrayal of the blonde haired, blue eyed sadist; his performance is more than convincing as the bad guy of the story assuming the identity of his character wonderfully not merely portraying the character but becoming the unsavoury individual taking the performance to a higher level. The films central character Johnny Liston is played by Antonio De Teffe, who under the alias of Antony Steffen starred in a number of westerns. Steffen is a perfect pairing with Garko the two actors bouncing off of each other to create a wonderful atmosphere and infuse a sense of reality to the films storyline. Liston has served twelve years in prison after being wrongly accused of murder. After his release he returns to his birthplace, the village of Campos. He discovers that the entire village is terrorized by his Brother Sartana (Gianni Garko), who to add insult to injury has also taken Johnny’s fiancée Manuela (Angelica Ott) as his lover. Sartana is acting as a dictator of sorts who intimidates, exploits and robs the villagers and people living in the surrounding countryside and aided by his band of cut-throats and bandits rules the area with a grip of iron. He also takes great delight in mistreating Manuela beating her and abusing her mentally and physically, whilst at the same time he persecutes her mute Brother Jerry, whipping him and ridiculing him ruthlessly. Liston decides that he must find out who framed him for the murder and also why he has been made to feel so un-welcome in his own village. He is disgusted and sickened by the actions of his Brother and attempts to put a stop to his Siblings malicious and brutal ways. But, he receives no support from the villagers who are all terrified of Sartana. Johnny even tries to enlist the help of his own Mother, (Carla Calo) but she shuns him telling him that he is weak, favouring his Brother whom she idolises. Johnny’s only real ally is Jerry the mute Brother of Manuela. Because they are Brothers neither Johnny nor Sartana wants to directly strike at the other, so a struggle of wills ensues until their Mother dies and then the fight begins in earnest. Directed by Alberto Cardone under the name of Albert Cardiff, 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO was the second western that Cardone made in 1966, the other SETTE DOLLARI SULL ROSSO which also starred Anthony Steffen is another fine example of the Italian western genre, the two films although having titles that could be conceived to be related were actually not content connected at all. The director who is in the opinion of many highly underrated began his career in film in 1945; he worked at first as a second unit director or assistant director on a number of movies, which included BEN HUR in 1959. He was responsible for three more Italian westerns, these were, L’IRA DI DIO, (THE WRATH OF GOD) IL LUNGO GIORNO DEL MASSACRO (LONGS DAYS OF KILLING) and 20,000 DOLLARI SPORCHI DI SANGUE (THE KIDNAPPING). All of which were worthy and interesting additions to the genre that was to become known as the Spaghetti western.
He also co-directed two other westerns which were produced in Germany during 1964. The director decided to leave the genre behind in 1968, moving onto to be second unit director on Roger Vadim’s sexy space adventure BARBARELLA, but returned to the western in 1970 when he acted as second unit director on EL CONDOR, which starred Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown. Cardone enjoyed a busy and fruitful career as director, assistant director, editor and screen writer up until his death in 1977. The music for 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO is the work of talented composer/performer Michele Lacerenza, the Maestro is probably best known for his solo trumpet performances within numerous Italian western scores but as a composer in his own right he was responsible for helping to create the “sound” that we all now associate with the Spaghetti western. He scored four out of the five Italian westerns that were directed by Alberto Cardone and placed his unmistakable musical identity upon each one. Lacerenza although known too many soundtrack collectors was underrated as a composer and also in the opinion of many under utilized.
The score for 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO, is a perfect example of Italian western music, it contains many of the now established musical trademarks that are acknowledged as stock sounds within the genre. The score is energetic and infectious, the composer creating a firm foundation for the remainder of the soundtrack via his haunting TEMA DI JOHNNY, in which Lacerenza performs trumpet solo. This particular cue appeared on a handful of compilations of Italian western music that were released firstly on long playing vinyl and then in later years on compact disc. JOHNNY’S THEME and also the song from the movie, NECKLACE OF PEARLS performed by Peter Boom were also issued on a CAM records single 45rpm (AMP 12) at the time of the films release, both were conducted and arranged by another popular Italian film music composer Berto Pisano. The flawless trumpet solo is augmented and punctuated by the use of organ, subdued percussion, strummed guitar and castanet’s, which together create an ambience that just oozes Spaghetti western. The theme appears on a number of occasions throughout the score, but the composer orchestrates and arranges it differently on each outing, thus the music remains fresh and vibrant every time. In a number of ways the orchestration on the score can be likened to the instrumentation on Sante Maria Romitelli,s SPARA GRINGO SPARA making one think that maybe the conductor of the main score on 1000 DOLLARI SUL NERO Luigi Zito, had an influence or input as he also conducted the Romitelli score. Lacarenza fuses neo classical sound with a pop orientated style that at times evokes the guitar groups of the 1960,s such as The Shadows or The Ventures. Electric guitar accompanied by racing snare drums, harmonica, strings and woodwind are further embellished by percussion and organ all of which are drawn together by Lacerenza’s masterful trumpet playing.
Born in Taranto, Puglia, Italy on January 7th 1922. Michele Lacerenza was to become one of the most important musicians to be connected with the Italian cinema and in- particular the Italian western. Like Alessandroni, s whistle and guitar playing, Franco De Gemini’s excellent harmonica performances and Edda Dell Orso’s unique aural vocalising, Lacarenza was to make his mark on the western genre and also other movie scores with his inspired and unblemished trumpet playing. Lacerenza came from a family background that was musical; his Father Giacomo Lacerenza was a well known conductor. Lacerenza came to the forefront of Italian film music when he was asked by composer Ennio Morricone to perform trumpet on “A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS”. The films director Sergio Leone had originally insisted on having Italy’s most prominent trumpet player at that time Nini Rosso to perform on the soundtrack, but Morricone wanted to use Lacerenza because he remembered his flawless performances whilst they were at the music conservatory and has stated since that he wrote the piece with Lacerenza’s trumpet in mind. After playing the films central theme for Leone the great film-maker was said to be reduced to tears because Lacerenza’s performance was so full of emotion. Morricone described him as “A sublime trumpet player” After the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lacerenza continued his collaboration with Morricone on scores such as A PISTOL FOR RINGO , FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Lacerenza became much in demand and began to perform on many other film soundtracks, it was also at this time that he had a hit record with a cover version of THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (La Casa Del Sole) a song that had been a worldwide hit for British rock band The Animals. Lacerenza’s career went from strength to strength and as well as performing on film scores and collaborating with composers such as Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and Armando Trovaioli he also began to compose music for the cinema and although his output may not have been immense it was certainly important and original. The Maestro also taught music at the Foggia conservatory of music and the Santa Cecilia Academy. He died in Rome on November 17th 1989.