Sergio Corbucci was born on December 6th 1927 in Italy. Most of this directors movies have the reputation for containing copious amounts of violence, but at the same time his films were intelligent and inventive examples of Italian cinema. He is probably best known for his work within the Italian or Spaghetti western genre. But he was at home within any genre, a number of his action films contain social criticism of left wing politics as Corbucci never hid the fact that he was a communist. The art direction he employed within his films was mostly apocalyptic and surrealistic which became one of the filmmakers trademarks and a mark of his black humour. Corbucci began his career in film within the Sword and sandal days of Italian cinema, and it is probably true to say that he learnt his craft from many Hollywood film directors that had travelled to Italy,s Cinecitta to work on Biblical epics during the 1950,s and 1960,s. He did however contribute a number of examples of the Sword and sandal variety to the genre. These included SON OF SPARTACUS, which although nothing remotely like the original SPARTACUS was an enjoyable adventure romp. In 1965 he directed MASSACRE AT GRAND CANYON, which was a spaghetti western of sorts, by this I mean it belongs to the genre, but really contained non of the trademarks that we now so readily associate with the Italian produced sagebrush sagas. In the same year he worked on MINNESOTA CLAY again an Italian western, but one which still contained many of the clichéd trademarks of the Hollywood produced western.
He entered 1966 full of ideas of how to shape the western all’Italiana and it was in this year that he directed RINGO AND HIS GOLDEN PISTOL which was one of the earlier real spaghetti westerns, containing a gimmicky storyline , but still had some connections with the Hollywood version of the western. It was DJANGO an ultra violent western that he also filmed in 1966 that was to be the directors first major break into the commercial film market, the movies leading actor was Franco Nero who was to be the leading figure in many of Corbucci’s later movies.
The film became an instant hit in Italy and also a cult film throughout Europe, it was and still is notorious for its scenes of violence and also the amount of killings it contained, which led to it being banned in the UK for some 20 years. In many ways it was a more brutal version of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. With Ku Klux Clan and Mexican bandito’s taking the place of the Rojo’s and the Baxter’s and Django being stuck in the middle playing both sides off against each other. In the same year Corbucci directed NAVAJO JOE, which was a vehicle for young American actor Burt Reynolds, but it was the success of DJANGO that put Corbucci firmly on the filmmaking map, after this success Corbucci went onto become a director in demand and made numerous other westerns during the period from 1966 through to 1971 that remain to this day original and iconic examples of the genre.
These included, THE GREAT SILENCE which was perceived to be so violent that it too was banned from a number of countries. The movie had two endings shot one happy and one gruesome and dark. Other westerns that Corbucci directed include, HELLBENDERS, THE SPECIALIST, COMPANEROS, BANDA J AND S and WHAT AM I DOING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE REVOLUTION. Corbucci became the most successful director in Italy after Sergio Leone. When the genre of the Italian western had run its course and the ideas for the genre had been explored fully and more or less exhausted by filmmakers, Corbucci concentrated mostly upon comedies which was a genre that he also excelled in. These movies often starred the singer/actor Adriano Celentano, many thought that Corbucci.s contributions were not important examples of Italian cinema at the time of them being produced, but over the years he has become an extremely significant and highly regarded figure within the world of film making. Sergio Corbucci died on December 1st 1990.