Combustible Celluloid
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With: Franco Nero, Jack Palance, Tony Musante, Giovanna Ralli
Written by: Giorgio Arlorio, Adriano Bolzoni, Sergio Corbucci, Franco Solinas, Sergio Spina, Luciano Vincenzoni
Directed by: Sergio Corbucci
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and brief nudity
Running Time: 110
Date: 08/29/1968

The Mercenary (1968)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Dream with Your Eyes Open

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Sergio Leone's colleague Sergio Corbucci also made great "Spaghetti Westerns." He was equally talented, but not nearly as well known. He was also a good deal more violent, burrowing into dark, grimy places that Leone never even approached. In this amazing 1968 movie, a freedom fighter, Paco (Tony Musante), hires cynical mercenary Sergei Kowalski (Franco Nero) to help with a revolution. Jack Palance co-stars as a nasty bad guy named -- believe it or not -- "Curly" (the same name as his character in City Slickers, for which he won an Oscar). The shootout between Curly and Paco, who is dressed as a rodeo clown, has to be seen to be believed.

Ennio Morricone provided another of his powerful scores. It has also been released as A Professional Gun. Nero, Palance, and Corbucci reunited two years later for Compañeros.

Much to my joy, Kino Lorber released this great movie on Blu-ray in 2017, and it includes an English-dubbed audio track, and a glorious picture. The only extra is a very, very good one: a knowledgable commentary track by filmmaker Alex Cox, the director of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy and an expert on Spaghetti Westerns.

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