And another good guy bites the dust . . . .

RIP Sergio Sollima, director of such hard nuggets of politically driven action cinema as The Big Gundown, Face to Face and Violent City. At 94, he was one of the very last of the Italian filmmakers who gave us the westerns of the '60s and the crime films of the '70s. These guys were the product of a society that was much more fragmented and polarized politically than the U.S. in the same period. (You're probably thinking "more fragmented than the U.S during Vietnam?" Compared the Red Brigades and their train-station-bombing fascist counterparts, yes.) That reality was reflected in the films they made. Italy in the period was like a 



 Who you callin' ugly, chump?
 
gigantic version of the Warner Brothers backlot during the Depression, recycling and reinventing popular genres (mostly American) with ferocious abandon. Although Leone rightly got most of the attention, it was the second-tier guys like Sollima, Corbucci, Lizzani, DiLeo, who made the wheels turn, and they were anything but untalented.That said, there's an excellent appreciation of his life and career at IndieWire, written by Dennis Cozzalio.

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