Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, we all know the “D” is silent. But if his is the only Django you know … well, friend, you don’t know Django.
For one thing, he’s not African-American, but Italian. He’s not a slave, but a Civil War vet. He’s now 47 years old and drags a coffin behind him — provided we’re talking about 1966’s Django, which, outside of Sergio Leone’s Dollars trilogy, is arguably the granddaddy of Italy’s so-called “spaghetti Western” subgenre. The first of untold dozens of films to feature the gunslinger, Django plays Thursday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art as part of its Italian Auteurs of the 1960s series.
We say “untold dozens” because nailing down the exact number is difficult. Since copyright law in Italy is as solid as ricotta cheese, the Django name has been appropriated — read: stolen — and slapped upon at least 30 titles and retitles, whether or not the character was even part of the script. Only one of them is an official sequel: 1987’s belated Django Strikes Again.
Thus, like Sherlock Holmes or Dracula, Django has become as malleable as a meatball; although the first Django film marks an iconic role for Franco Nero (otherwise best-known for his Die Hard 2 villain), more than a dozen other actors have played him. Tarantino winked at the theft of the franchise in borrowing the moniker for last year’s Oscar-winning epic Django Unchained, yet also paid due homage by giving Nero a small role. (He’s the guy at the bar who asks Foxx’s Django, “What’s your name?” thus prompting the now-famous line referenced three paragraphs above.)
As the strong, silent, scruffy antihero of the ’66 Django, Nero is a big reason Sergio
Corbucci’s movie made waves that still ripple today. Another:
good-ol’-fashioned violence — an element Tarantino made damn sure to
duplicate. If you liked Unchained, give the real Django a try; if you like that, plenty of other adventures await, including but certainly not limited to the following:
Milian stars in easily the series’ most strangely punctuated title. To
paraphrase another Tarantino film, he wants his scalps!
The subject of about 20 flicks himself, Sartana is like the Robin to Django’s Batman, except with too-similar costumes.
Viva! Django (1971)
his fifth turn as Django, Anthony Steffen hunts for his wife’s killers,
the Four Leaf Clover Gang. Think they’ll be lucky when they meet him?
Django’s Cut Price Corpses (1971)
which Django (Jeff Cameron) is so confident he’ll hunt down all four
wanted Cortez brothers, he preorders their coffins: “Regular size. I’ll
make ’em fit.”
Hey! Read This:
• Quentin Tarantino’s Rolling Thunder Pictures Triple Feature DVD review
• Django Unchained film review
• A Man Called Django! DVD review
• Django, Kill! (If You Live Shoot!) Blu-ray review