“The West was a place where the improbable happened every day.” – Louis L’Amour
I’ve always contended that most Movie Stars want to be in a Western at some point in their career.
But for many – especially European Actors – such a dream seemed far fetched. Impossible.
THEN… in the mid 60’s an incredible and unforeseen thing happened: The Spaghetti Western.
Started by Sergio Leone – and spearheaded by Clint Eastwood‘s Star Power. the door was flung wide open.And the rage was on. Wikipedia: “Over six hundred European Westerns were made between 1960 and 1978.”
Shalako was shot in Almería, Spain.
This explains a lot about the it’s spectacular Cast.
Sean Connery (Scottish) as Moses Zebulon ‘Shalako’ Carlin Brigitte Bardot (French) as Countess Irina Lazaar Jack Hawkins (English) as Sir Charles Daggett Stephen Boyd (Irish) as Bosky Fulton Peter van Eyck (German) as Baron Frederick von Hallstadt Honor Blackman (English) as Lady Julia Daggett Woody Strode (American) as Chato Eric Sykes (English) as Mako Alexander Knox (Canadian) as Sen. Henry Clarke Valerie French (English) as Elena Clarke Julián Mateos (Spanish) as Rojas Don “Red” Barry (American)as Buffalo Rodd Redwing (American) as Chato’s Father
An amazing cross section of Cultural Thespian wannabe Cowboys!
Dig this: Leone wanted to cast James Coburn for A Fistful of Dollars. But Coburn was asking $25,000. Leone couldn’t afford him!! Clint only wanted $15,000.
The West is history.
Coburn did later Star in a couple of Spaghetti Westerns: – Duck you sucker/Fistfull of Dynamite – (1971)
and – A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die – (1972)
Not to mention that he Starred in 2 of the greatest Westerns ever made:
– The Magnificent Seven (1960)
and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid(1973)
The lyrics to Farnon’s theme were surprisingly written by British Carry On star Jim Dale and while being rather ‘Tin Pan Alley’ they hopefully don’t detract from Farnon’s excellent score.
Sean Connery made one Western:
Adapted from the novel by the great Western writer Louis L’Amour, Shalakowas part of the Spaghetti Western craze of that time. Location shooting took place in Almería in southern Spain, particularly in the Tabernas Desert which was frequently used in European Westerns during the decade.
Shalakowasn’t a great Western, but it had one outstanding feature: It’s amazing Star Power, which included: Sean Connery (Scottish), Brigitte Bardot (French), Jack Hawkins (English), Steven Boyd (Irish), Eric Sykes (English), Honor Blackman (English), Woody Strode (American), Valerie French (not French) and others …
Reviews:Reviews were generally mediocre. But I think this could be one of those movies that fares better with time.
Why? But because of Shalako‘s amazing Cast/Star Power.
Which is pretty well unmatched by most movies made these days,
Because of this I give it a 7 out of 10.
Part 2? I’m going to look at this interesting Cast a bit more.
Woodrow Wilson Woolwine “Woody” Strode
(July 25, 1914 – December 31, 1994)
was a decathlete and football star who went on to become a pioneering African American film actor. He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for
Best Supporting Actor for his role in Spartacus in 1960.
He served in the US Army during World War II.
Woody Strode Westerns
Sergeant Rutledge (1960) / Two Rode Together (1961) / The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) / The Professionals (1966) / Shalako (1968) / Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) / Boot Hill (1969) / Chuck Moll (1970) / The Deserter (1971) / The Revengers (1972) / Keoma (Django Rides Again) and (The Violent Breed) (1976) / Lust in the Dust (1985) / Posse(1993) / The Quick and the Dead (1995)
The Professionals didn’t seem to indulge in a lot of marketing promotion. Possibly (credibly) relying on it’s AllStar cast to carry it.
But some of marketing images are still a bit of a head scratcher.
This DVD cover/poster headlines “Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance and Ralph Bellamy“. But … ? the image shows Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Marvin, Ryan and Woody Strode. Palance and Bellamy are Billed, but not pictured. Cardinale and Strode are pictured, but not Billed. ???
This can only be attributed to contractual agreements regarding who would get Billed ahead of who … whom? I guess.
Even stranger: As shown below, Cardinale did not even appear in the original photo, but she was cleverly inserted later – between Lancaster and Marvin.
YET … she is not even identified on the Bill !! ??
Again, we have actors Billed (Lancaster, Palance, Bellamy) – but not pictured.
And actors pictured (Cardinale, Strode), but not Billed.
I know it’s hot out there in the desert, but …
How hot is it? Check this:
Whew … it’s sweaty out here in the desert.
Who are those slobs in the background?
(Foreign marketers had no problem showing where their interest lies.)
The film won two Motion Picture MagazineLaurel Awards in 1967, for Best Action Drama and Best Action Performance for Lee Marvin.
In Germany, it was one of only four movies to receive a Golden Screen award (the others were Doctor Zhivago, Merveilleuse Angélique and You Only Live Twice) in 1967.
“Maybe there’s only one revolution, since the beginning, the good guys against the bad guys. Question is, who are the good guys?” – Burt Lancaster / The Professionals
The Professionals …
Lee Marvin moves into full blown stardom – becoming a legitimate box office titan – in one of the greatest Westerns ever made (My Favorite) starring along side Western Film Greats Burt Lancaster, Jack Palance, Robert Ryan, Woody Strode, Claudia Cardinale, Ralph Belamy … What a cast!
Following Cat Ballou (Oscar) this is one of 4 Westerns remaining in Marvin’s Western filmography: Monte Walsh / 1970 (with Jack Palance); Paint Your Wagon / 1969 (with Clint Eastwood); Emperor of the North / 1973 (with Charles Bronson).
It’s often interesting to read reviews from when the time the film was originally released – and see how they bear up as to how the film is presently regarded.
Several movies that are now regarded as Classics were savagely ripped by reviewers of the day. But time often tells a different story. However …
“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was an instant hit when released in April 1962, thanks to its classic story and popular stars John Wayne and James Stewart. Produced on a budget of $3.2 million, the film grossed $8,000,000 at the box office, making it the 16th highest grossing film of 1962. Edith Head‘s costumes for the film were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, one of the few westerns to ever be nominated for the award. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance has continued its popularity through repeated television broadcasts and the rental market. It is also widely considered to be one of director John Ford‘s best westerns and generally ranks alongside Red River, The Searchers, The Big Trail, and Stagecoachas one of John Wayne‘s best films.”
The Critics liked – and the People liked it.
Below: A nice video presentation with a nice rendition of song The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance written by songsters Burt Bacharach and Hal Davis.
Warning: possible huge spoilers … if you’ve never seen the movie.