Sabata


1h 47m 1970

Brief Synopsis

A gunman enlists a team of specialists to protect him from a wealthy villain.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ehi, Amico ... C'è Sabata, hai chiuso
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Western
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 2 Sep 1970
Production Company
P. E. A.; Produzioni Associate Delphos
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Stengel, a wealthy landowner in Dougherty, Texas, masterminds a bank robbery of U. S. Army gold, and then, together with his co-conspirators Judge O'Hara and saloon owner Fergusson, he arranges for a $5,000 reward for the capture of the robbers. A mysterious stranger named Sabata rides into town, apprehends and kills the bank robbers, and collects the reward. Sabata also suspects the acrobatic Virginian Brothers of taking part in the robbery, but Stengel has them murdered before they can confess. After locating evidence that implicates Stengel, Sabata attempts to blackmail him for $10,000. A succession of assassins is hired by Stengel to kill Sabata, but they all fail. Finally Banjo, an old friend of Sabata's, is hired, but he, too, fails although Sabata spares his life. Sabata attacks Stengel's ranch and kills Judge O'Hara and Fergusson with bullets and dynamite; later, Sabata kills Stengel in one of the latter's favorite shooting games. Sabata and Banjo then fight for the blackmail money, and Banjo shoots Sabata. Banjo takes the money and throws Sabata's body over his saddle. Outside of town, Sabata regains consciousness, overpowers Banjo, tosses the bag to Banjo, and rides off as the money scatters in the wind.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ehi, Amico ... C'è Sabata, hai chiuso
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Western
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 2 Sep 1970
Production Company
P. E. A.; Produzioni Associate Delphos
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Sabata


"The man with gunsight eyes." That's the phrase the film posters used to describe Lee Van Cleef in Sabata (1970), an enormously entertaining spaghetti Western that spawned two sequels. It also helped Van Cleef achieve the kind of success in Europe that he was forever denied in Hollywood where he was mostly typecast as villains in B-movies like The Big Combo (1955) and China Gate (1957). After traveling to Italy to make For a Few Dollars More for Sergio Leone in 1966, Van Cleef remained there and became an international star, thanks to his indomitable presence in such influential "Spaghetti Westerns" as Death Rides a Horse (1968), The Big Gundown (1966), and of course, Sabata.

Directed by Gianfranco Parolini (his name was anglicized for American audiences as Frank Kramer), Sabata is the story of an uneasy partnership between two men, a steely-eyed bounty hunter (Van Cleef) and a street musician (William Berger) whose banjo doubles as a gun. Their plan? To blackmail a bank robber who is hiding behind a mask of respectability in his small town. By the end of the film, the duo have effectively decimated everyone who stands in their way of a $60,000 ransom and you know only one man will walk away with that.

Even though Sabata is set in Texas during the 19th century, this is not the American West you're used to seeing in the films of John Ford and Delmer Daves. Not only does it have a title character who travels with as many gadgets as James Bond or James West (of the TV series, The Wild, Wild West) but it features a frontier town populated with Las Vegas-like showgirls, knife-welding drunks and cowboy acrobats (Director Parolini, who worked in circuses in his youth, would often pay homage to his former profession by featuring acrobats in his films). The carnival-like atmosphere is further enhanced by exaggerated sound effects, bizarre camera angles, and Marcello Giombini's playful score which would make a great CD release.

Producer: Alberto Grimaldi
Director: Gianfranco Parolini
Screenplay: Gianfranco Parolini
Production Design: Carlo Simi
Cinematography: Sandro Mancori
Costume Design: Carlo Simi
Film Editing: Edmond Lozzi
Original Music: Marcello Giombini
Cast: Lee Van Cleef (Sabata), William Berger (Banjo), Ignazio Spalla (Carrincha), Nick Jordan (Indio), Linda Veras (Jane), Franco Ressel (Stengel).
C-106m. Letterboxed.

By Jeff Stafford

Sabata

Sabata

"The man with gunsight eyes." That's the phrase the film posters used to describe Lee Van Cleef in Sabata (1970), an enormously entertaining spaghetti Western that spawned two sequels. It also helped Van Cleef achieve the kind of success in Europe that he was forever denied in Hollywood where he was mostly typecast as villains in B-movies like The Big Combo (1955) and China Gate (1957). After traveling to Italy to make For a Few Dollars More for Sergio Leone in 1966, Van Cleef remained there and became an international star, thanks to his indomitable presence in such influential "Spaghetti Westerns" as Death Rides a Horse (1968), The Big Gundown (1966), and of course, Sabata. Directed by Gianfranco Parolini (his name was anglicized for American audiences as Frank Kramer), Sabata is the story of an uneasy partnership between two men, a steely-eyed bounty hunter (Van Cleef) and a street musician (William Berger) whose banjo doubles as a gun. Their plan? To blackmail a bank robber who is hiding behind a mask of respectability in his small town. By the end of the film, the duo have effectively decimated everyone who stands in their way of a $60,000 ransom and you know only one man will walk away with that. Even though Sabata is set in Texas during the 19th century, this is not the American West you're used to seeing in the films of John Ford and Delmer Daves. Not only does it have a title character who travels with as many gadgets as James Bond or James West (of the TV series, The Wild, Wild West) but it features a frontier town populated with Las Vegas-like showgirls, knife-welding drunks and cowboy acrobats (Director Parolini, who worked in circuses in his youth, would often pay homage to his former profession by featuring acrobats in his films). The carnival-like atmosphere is further enhanced by exaggerated sound effects, bizarre camera angles, and Marcello Giombini's playful score which would make a great CD release. Producer: Alberto Grimaldi Director: Gianfranco Parolini Screenplay: Gianfranco Parolini Production Design: Carlo Simi Cinematography: Sandro Mancori Costume Design: Carlo Simi Film Editing: Edmond Lozzi Original Music: Marcello Giombini Cast: Lee Van Cleef (Sabata), William Berger (Banjo), Ignazio Spalla (Carrincha), Nick Jordan (Indio), Linda Veras (Jane), Franco Ressel (Stengel). C-106m. Letterboxed. By Jeff Stafford

The Sabata Trilogy on DVD


Now that Sony has control of the United Artists library one of their first special editions is this trilogy of Sabata Spaghetti westerns directed by Italian Gianfranco Parolini under the anglicized surname Frank Kramer. Flush from his successes with Sergio Leone, producer Alberto Grimaldi seized the opportunity to billboard his "rediscovery" Lee Van Cleef in a series of his own. Grimaldi chose Parolini after seeing the director's work in 1968's Sartana.

The Sabata films are acceptable Spaghetti thrillers that never approach the quality of the Leone films. Parolini was sometimes called the Fellini of the Italian western for his large and colorful casts, but the overwhelming impression imparted by the trilogy is that of a zoom-happy series of pleasantly mindless showdowns and gun-downs. Spaghetti aficionados may be able to discern a personal style at play.

The first two Sabata films are variations on the "treasure hunt" format of Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lee Van Cleef plays a more fanciful version of his character from Leone’s "Dollars" films. The striking, hawk-nosed gunslinger Sabata is associated with circuses and uses trick weapons, most notably a derringer with extra barrels hidden in the handgrip. He has a buffoonish but dedicated sidekick, an expert at knife throwing, played by the portly Ignazio Spalla under the name Pedro Sanchez. Aldo Canti (as Nick Jordan) is a circus acrobat on Sabata's team who enlivens the proceedings with impressive stunts. Canti springboards into high windows to help Sabata gain access to guarded buildings; it's fairly amazing to see him leap from fifteen and twenty-foot heights and land neatly on his feet.

Both 1969's Sabata and 1971's The Return of Sabata establish our hero in the middle of a corrupt situation, competing with a less-scrupulous false partner for the spoils. In the first film, a town's leading citizens fake a bank robbery in order to abscond with the cash. William Berger is an anachronistic longhaired musician-swindler who hides a Winchester in his banjo.

When gunplay is afoot Van Cleef commands the screen with confidence to spare; his inimitable gravel-toned voice is a definite asset in dialogue scenes. But his impassive face expresses next to nothing.

Parolini stages the action almost as a comedy but his unfolding of events is slow - the random and continuous gunfire soon loses its impact. Each movie could easily be trimmed by a reel or more. The first two perk up considerably for set-piece battle finales that make good use of cleverly timed gags and sharp camerawork. After so many predictable situations, they even manage a fresh surprise or two.

For the record The Return of Sabata pits Van Cleef against Giampiero Albertini's McIntock, a robber baron who claims he's funding town improvements by collecting heavy taxes. The loot ends up as yet another loose treasure to be fought over by feuding adventurers. A traveling show has a more direct role in this sequel; Sabata is introduced earning his keep in a gunfight entertainment that uses magician's tricks, much like Christopher Lee's hi-jinks as Scaramanga in the later 007 film The Man with the Golden Gun. The overall circus atmosphere probably added to Parolini's reputation as the Spaghetti Fellini.

1970's Adiós Sabata is a Sabata film in name only. Filmed as an "Indio Black" movie, Parolini decided after the fact to give Yul Brynner the Sabata name. Lee Van Cleef was tied up doing a Magnificent Seven sequel, so both franchises suffered from being denied their established leading men. This time around "Sabata" is a lone adventurer hired to steal gold for Mexican revolutionaries. Ignazio Spalla returns for sidekick duty but a new man plays the requisite acrobat. Yul Brynner struts through the Sabata role with even less visible acting than did Lee Van Cleef, striking noble poses instead of giving a performance. He wears a ridiculous black buckskin 'hero' outfit with a gaudy leather fringe, as if auditioning to join The Village People.

The plot's idea of novelty is to make every character a duplicitous thief. There's yet another good-looking sharpie (Dean Reed) after the Army's wagonload of gold. It comes as no surprise that the evil General in charge also wants the loot for himself; he's played by Gerald Herter, a venerable villain remembered from Riccardo Freda's Caltiki, the Immortal Monster. The General's scheme is predictably scuttled by the resourceful Brynner. As in the previous two films, the busy plot is merely an excuse to stage stylized duels and shootouts at regular intervals. For Sabata's main audience of kids that was probably a satisfactory formula.

MGM/Sony's DVD set of The Sabata Trilogy presents these three Techniscope spaghettis in fine enhanced transfers with good color. There are no original Italian tracks but we at least get to hear Lee Van Cleef and Yul Brynner's natural voices. The music soundtracks by Marcello Giombini and Bruno Nicolai sometimes sound like surfing music. The original Italian titles are used as main theme lyrics for the first two pictures: "Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso!" The set's three separate slim disc cases come in an attractive shiny-gold card box. There are no extras.

For more information about The Sabata Trilogy, visit MGM. To order The Sabata Trilogy, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson

The Sabata Trilogy on DVD

Now that Sony has control of the United Artists library one of their first special editions is this trilogy of Sabata Spaghetti westerns directed by Italian Gianfranco Parolini under the anglicized surname Frank Kramer. Flush from his successes with Sergio Leone, producer Alberto Grimaldi seized the opportunity to billboard his "rediscovery" Lee Van Cleef in a series of his own. Grimaldi chose Parolini after seeing the director's work in 1968's Sartana. The Sabata films are acceptable Spaghetti thrillers that never approach the quality of the Leone films. Parolini was sometimes called the Fellini of the Italian western for his large and colorful casts, but the overwhelming impression imparted by the trilogy is that of a zoom-happy series of pleasantly mindless showdowns and gun-downs. Spaghetti aficionados may be able to discern a personal style at play. The first two Sabata films are variations on the "treasure hunt" format of Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Lee Van Cleef plays a more fanciful version of his character from Leone’s "Dollars" films. The striking, hawk-nosed gunslinger Sabata is associated with circuses and uses trick weapons, most notably a derringer with extra barrels hidden in the handgrip. He has a buffoonish but dedicated sidekick, an expert at knife throwing, played by the portly Ignazio Spalla under the name Pedro Sanchez. Aldo Canti (as Nick Jordan) is a circus acrobat on Sabata's team who enlivens the proceedings with impressive stunts. Canti springboards into high windows to help Sabata gain access to guarded buildings; it's fairly amazing to see him leap from fifteen and twenty-foot heights and land neatly on his feet. Both 1969's Sabata and 1971's The Return of Sabata establish our hero in the middle of a corrupt situation, competing with a less-scrupulous false partner for the spoils. In the first film, a town's leading citizens fake a bank robbery in order to abscond with the cash. William Berger is an anachronistic longhaired musician-swindler who hides a Winchester in his banjo. When gunplay is afoot Van Cleef commands the screen with confidence to spare; his inimitable gravel-toned voice is a definite asset in dialogue scenes. But his impassive face expresses next to nothing. Parolini stages the action almost as a comedy but his unfolding of events is slow - the random and continuous gunfire soon loses its impact. Each movie could easily be trimmed by a reel or more. The first two perk up considerably for set-piece battle finales that make good use of cleverly timed gags and sharp camerawork. After so many predictable situations, they even manage a fresh surprise or two. For the record The Return of Sabata pits Van Cleef against Giampiero Albertini's McIntock, a robber baron who claims he's funding town improvements by collecting heavy taxes. The loot ends up as yet another loose treasure to be fought over by feuding adventurers. A traveling show has a more direct role in this sequel; Sabata is introduced earning his keep in a gunfight entertainment that uses magician's tricks, much like Christopher Lee's hi-jinks as Scaramanga in the later 007 film The Man with the Golden Gun. The overall circus atmosphere probably added to Parolini's reputation as the Spaghetti Fellini. 1970's Adiós Sabata is a Sabata film in name only. Filmed as an "Indio Black" movie, Parolini decided after the fact to give Yul Brynner the Sabata name. Lee Van Cleef was tied up doing a Magnificent Seven sequel, so both franchises suffered from being denied their established leading men. This time around "Sabata" is a lone adventurer hired to steal gold for Mexican revolutionaries. Ignazio Spalla returns for sidekick duty but a new man plays the requisite acrobat. Yul Brynner struts through the Sabata role with even less visible acting than did Lee Van Cleef, striking noble poses instead of giving a performance. He wears a ridiculous black buckskin 'hero' outfit with a gaudy leather fringe, as if auditioning to join The Village People. The plot's idea of novelty is to make every character a duplicitous thief. There's yet another good-looking sharpie (Dean Reed) after the Army's wagonload of gold. It comes as no surprise that the evil General in charge also wants the loot for himself; he's played by Gerald Herter, a venerable villain remembered from Riccardo Freda's Caltiki, the Immortal Monster. The General's scheme is predictably scuttled by the resourceful Brynner. As in the previous two films, the busy plot is merely an excuse to stage stylized duels and shootouts at regular intervals. For Sabata's main audience of kids that was probably a satisfactory formula. MGM/Sony's DVD set of The Sabata Trilogy presents these three Techniscope spaghettis in fine enhanced transfers with good color. There are no original Italian tracks but we at least get to hear Lee Van Cleef and Yul Brynner's natural voices. The music soundtracks by Marcello Giombini and Bruno Nicolai sometimes sound like surfing music. The original Italian titles are used as main theme lyrics for the first two pictures: "Ehi amico... c'è Sabata, hai chiuso!" The set's three separate slim disc cases come in an attractive shiny-gold card box. There are no extras. For more information about The Sabata Trilogy, visit MGM. To order The Sabata Trilogy, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Almería, Spain. Released in Italy in 1969 as Ehi, amico ... C'è Sabata, hai chiuso. Frank Kramer is a pseudonym for director Gianfranco Parolini. The following actors appear under anglicized names: Ignazio Spalla (Pedro Sanchez), Antonio Gradoli (Anthony Gradwell), Claudio Undari (Robert Hundar), Spartaco Conversi (Spanny Convery), Pino Mattei (Joseph Mathews), Janos Bartha (John Bartha), Carlo Tamberlani (Charles Tamblyn), Luciano Pigozzi (Alan Collins), and Andrea Aurell (Andrew Ray).

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 1970

Techniscope

Released in United States Fall September 1970