Django (1966) – By Danny Runion

A mysterious stranger drags a coffin behind him and reaches a small town overrun with bandits, but Django has something far better than a six-shooter to face down an army of 50 men. When Django is surrounded by his enemies, he pulls a machine gun from the coffin and reigns down bullets upon his enemies. He and a group of banditos devise a plan to rob the crooked town boss, and what Italian western would be complete without at least a double or triple cross? Django with his broken hands must face the town boss in a desolate cemetery in a final gunfight.

All really cool heroes need a good theme song. Although not as cool as the themes for Shaft, Truck Turner, or for that matter Chisum (“John Chisum…”), Django’s theme ranks up there with the others. The Django theme song playing as he drags a coffin through the grimy West is a visual hard to forget and is a unique way to start any western, too.

For a movie made in 1966, Major Jackson is truly evil. His main hobby is allowing peasants to try to escape as he shoots them. Nowadays, it has become stereotypical to show the villains as drowning a sack of kittens or orphans evil. But, it demonstrates how truly repellent Jackson is. Unlike his henchmen, Jackson didn’t cut any ears off of crazy preachers and force him to eat them.

Every spaghetti western has the rage filled quiet gunfighter with a mysterious grudge against the evil gunfighter or crooked town boss which Franco Nero personifies to a T. He has the world weary filled stare of the haunted gunfighter who has fought one too many battles. Fortunately, none of his enemies really believe he’s that good until it’s too late. We never get the patent-pending Steven Segal “This Guy’s Good” speech concerning Django. No matter how great the odds or how high the cost, he is able to defeat his enemies. This would make him an Italian Chow Yun-Fat….

American westerns portrayed gunfighters as heroes. Italy gave us the prototype for the anti-hero in the so-called “Spaghetti Western.” This genre created films where there were no heroes wearing white hats, and there were no scruffy looking “Gabby” Hayes style sidekicks. While Clint Eastwood defined the American antihero, his Man with No Name trilogy irrevocably changed the view of westerns as mindless shoot-em-ups. Italy is famous for running every popular genre into the ground. They kept making more of these so-called Spaghetti Westerns until the bottom fell out of genre.

While Django has never reached the fame of any of Sergio Leone’s movies in America, Django was is one of the most widely copied Spaghetti Westerns. This is a
movie so popular in Europe it spawned over 60 “unofficial” sequels that mainly didn’t even have a single character named “Django” in it! Corbucci’s view of the west was even darker than what Sergio Leone envisioned. He portrayed the west as a dirty place where everyone has a price and would sell their mother for a shot of whiskey. Everyone that is, except the quiet deadly stranger that has come to town to right a wrong from many years earlier.