Director Sergio Sollima holds the distinction of having directed some of the greatest spaghetti westerns of the 1960s as welll as one of the best crime flicks of the '70s, "Revolver" a/k/a "Blood in the Streets." As for Sollima's westerns, "The Big Gundown" a/k/a "La resa dei conti" is "not only one of the best spaghetti westerns ever made, it is one of the best films you will ever see period."
Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, 320 East Sixth Street in downtown Austin, presents the uncut digital restoration of "The Big Gundown" as part of the Big Screen Classics series for three days only, Saturday January 12th at 1 p.m., Sunday the 13th at 4, and Monday the 14th at 7 p.m. Reserved seating is available here.
The Alamo's Lars Nilsen sums up the plot: "Lee Van Cleef is a rough, tough barrel of guts as a famous bounty hunter, offered a soft political career by a corrupt cattle baron if he can just bring the wily Mexican bandit Tomas Milian to justice. Van Cleef pursues Milian across Mexico and when he finally finds him he finds out the truth about his wealthy benefactor - and, subtextually, the empty and murderous nature of capitalism."
Nilsen writes in the Alamo blog that "Watching "The Big Gundown" for the first time is like falling in love with movies all over again. From the gorgeous locations to the rousing chorus of female voices in Ennio Morricone's score to the lined face of Lee Van Cleef, at once ugly and beautiful, it is something like a perfect movie...full of biting political subtext in its story of an aging gunfighter with aspirations of riding his notoriety into high office with the help of a wealthy and unscrupulous sponsor...Throughout, the action, plot and characterization are fast and smart. This film should have jumped the fence into respectability in the same way as Kurosawa's samurai movies. It's that good.
"The Big Gundown" features two of the genre's greatest performances in Milian's craven, resourceful, yet ultimately honest bad man; and Van Cleef's morally wavering yet heroic central figure. In the script based on an original story by Franco Solinas ("Battle of Algiers," "Burn!"), Van Cleef can be seen as America, post WWII, on one hand the moral light of the world, certainly the strongest force in the world, and on the other hand, dangerously prone to corruption by wealth and influence. Milian embodies the developing world, and their developing relationship mirrors the state of the world. Though the weight of all this allegory might seem destined to weigh any western down, it all works, and it works perfectly. As a grace note, it's even funny."
If you witnessed the beautiful restoration of Sergio Corbucci's "Django" last week, do not miss the opportunity to see Sergio Sollima's classic "The Big Gundown" on the big screen.