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Musings and Ramblings

Craig Ellis Jamison

Based in Phila., PA, Craig is author of the screenplays NECESSARY EVIL, O.T., THE SECRET SONG, ROUGH ASSEMBLAGE, FATHOM, 13 O'CLOCK, NEGATIVE INGENUITY, KISS ME FOREVER,  BOTTLED LIGHTNING INC., INNUENDO, APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, CAMP DAVID (co-author), 10,000 SNOWMEN (co-author) and the upcoming book "THE INHERENT POWER OF GENRE: THE SOCIO-POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY & HORROR FILM".  He is Editor In Chief of the GullCottage / Sandlot online film magazine / library; founder of the "CreateTiV.TV" online network (launching late 2017); director / writer / co-producer of the documentary feature STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO "SAVED" THE MOVIES; and creator / producer / co-host of the cinema podcast series "THE MOVIE SNEAK (formerly "The Grindhouse: With Craig & Jim"). 

     Visit The GullCottage / Sandlot on Facebook and Twitter.




* This article contains language, film and audio
   which some may find objectionable *

     Okay, first - an apology.  'Cause we’re gonna cram quite a LOT into as condensed a space as possible.  So all you learned in English comp about run-on sentences and overly compounded structure?  Yes, we ARE aware of it.  We really are!  But for the time being that's on hold.  I promise in the next “Musings And Ramblings” we’ll go back to proper format and even that complete “third wall” objectification reference to the writer as “we” instead of “I”.  But for now, the subject at hand is perhaps a bit more important than said subject matter’s delivery system.  So, jumping into it  …

     It’s all about the word “nigger”.  Yeah, you read that correctly - “nigger”, and not it’s agreed upon journalistic stunt double stand-in phrase “the ‘N’ word”.  So put your politically correct bonnet back up on the shelf, close the slacked jaw, and stop feigning shock as if (c’mon) you haven’t heard, uttered or sang the word in one form or another over the last few years.  I ask simply because we’re going to be addressing it straight up and direct here.  Our version of an old school back alley “throw down”.  You remember those - down and dirty perhaps, but refreshingly honest at the same time.  

     Oh, and by the way, this is all extremely uncomfortable for me too, because I personally despise that damned “N” word (let’s get that right out there!) - especially when it’s used by African Americans.  But do I believe (as do some) that it should be banned from pop culture usage?  No, I do not!  I DO feel however that it IS overused by far too many so-called performers and hip-hoppers, slung about like so much hash by those of little to no socio-artistic prowess (or socio-political knowledge or memory) who are simply cashing in on it’s shock value while donning the thin b.s. mask of “social relevance”.  As we tend to say, “Nigga please!!!”.  But more on all that in a bit.  

     Suffice to say, unless you’ve been living under the proverbial rock, it’s next to impossible not to have experienced one of the above run-ins with “the infamous N”, and (like many) developed feelings concerning it as it’s become (like it or not) an indelible part of our modern cultural lexicon.  More specifically here, I wanna chat - just you and me / one on one - about “nigger”’s place in that lexicon, and it’s debatable “maybe yes, maybe no?” over usage in Quentin Tarantino’s film, DJANGO UNCHAINED - which, by the way, I loved.  Let’s get that right out there too.   

     The wonderful thing about online articles, op ed pieces, social critiques or whatever you wish to call them, is they (unlike their printed counterparts) can be enjoyed and dissected in relative privacy by a wider audience more willing to “take a roll” on something they may not otherwise purchase at a book store, check out of the library or even read on the morning bus or train ride to work.  Y’know, if a piece like this was published in say EBONY or VIBE, a great many wouldn’t be reading it right now.  Same thing if it was printed in one of the more scholarly (some would say “snobby”) cineaste magazines like FILM COMMENT.  Not us by the way.  We big time LOVE us some FILM COMMENT ‘round these parts.  It’s one of our Bibles.  But regardless of which magazine it appeared in, something entitled “Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?” would certainly require the title page to be folded back out of view, lest the reader risk a threatening WTF view from passers by.  So, first and foremost a big thank you dear Reader for sitting down and scrolling this up in the first place.  While you may not be paying for this piece of “written opinion” in the form of hard earned “e pluribus unum”, you ARE paying for it with the most valuable commodity you own - your time.  And for that I am extremely grateful.    

     Unchained (couldn’t resist) into U.S. theaters on Christmas Day 2012, Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED - the saga of a freed slave turned bounty hunter in search of his still enslaved wife, is a heady, visually stunning combination of Italian “Spaghetti Western”, 70s era blaxploitation actioner, tone poem and social commentary.  On one level it’s the most harrowing microcosmic depiction (certainly in recent mainstream American cinema) of the systematic genocide of an entire race since Steven Spielberg’s SCHINDLER’S LIST.  Yet on the other it’s also the most pulpy of pulp fiction; a deliberately dime novel-like, rootin’ tootin’ old school, drive-in movie style, over-the-top sagebrush “quest saga” shoot ‘em up with biblical undertones.  Zane Grey by way of James Baldwin.  A Louis L’amour audio book as read by Huey P. Newton.  And oh yes, it’s also blisteringly funny satire.  And therein (as Mr. Shakespeare would say) lay the rub …

Django Unchained (U.S. theatrical trailer #2)

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"If you're going to tell people the truth, you'd better make them laugh.
Otherwise, they'll kill you"

                                               - George Bernard Shaw

     DJANGO UNCHAINED has proven the biggest success of writer / director Quentin Tarantino’s career - to date with a global box office take closing in on $400 million, two Golden Globes, five 2012 Oscar nominations including Best Picture; two Oscar wins for Best Supporting Actor - Christoph Waltz, and Best Original Screenplay - Tarantino); and has managed to hit the "Top Ten" lists of a slew of critics around the world.  At the same time however it's also managed to instigate a great deal of intellectual and emotional debate, emerging as arguably the most controversial major studio release since Martin Scorcese‘s THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. 

     Some feel the sober and tragic subject of the American slave trade is inappropriately exploited material in the midst of a pulpy horse opera-ish action fest; while others believe the subject matter is so taboo sensitive that perhaps the only way to breech it is via the “ease the audience into it gently” manner in which only a piece of well done genre material can allow.  Also stoking the flames of contention is the fact that (let's not pretend otherwise) the film is from a Caucasion director; one already (controversially to some) known for his deep affection for African-American cinematic history and imitative predilection of frequently peppering his thus inspired scripts (TRUE ROMANCE, PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN) with a liberal amount of "infamous 'N' ” bombs. 

DiCaprio's heinous slave baron Calvin Candie.   

     Dropping over 100 such bombs in DJANGO UNCHAINED, Tarantino has come under artistic fire (and physical threat) from more than a few African-American artists while at same time being lauded by others.  Days before DJANGO’s Christmas Day opening, writer / director Spike Lee (DO THE RIGHT THING, MALCOLM X) stated in a VIBE TV interview he would not see the film as he felt it would be “disrespectful to my ancestors”.  He’d also later tweet “... American Slavery Was Not A Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western.  It Was A Holocaust.  My Ancestors Are Slaves. Stolen From Africa.  I Will Honor Them”.  When asked by gossip site TMZ his opinion of Tarantino and DJANGO UNCHAINED, comedian Katt Williams (himself no stranger to controversy) would prove considerably less diplomatic in his assessment:

     "Quentin Tarantino thinks he can say the N-word. But I checked with all of Niggadom and nobody knows where he got his pass from. I  hope he didn’t get it from Samuel L. Jackson and Jamie Foxx cause they aren’t going to help you when I see you”.

     With comparisons drawn between DJANGO and Steven Spielberg’s depiction of slavery in AMISTAD, Williams continued …

     "Quentin Tarantino is no Steven Spielberg.  Steven Spielberg doesn’t wanna be black, Quentin Tarantino thinks he is. So when he meets a real nigga, we’ll see if he is or not.

     On the opposite side many are just as passionate in the belief that DJANGO UNCHAINED's realistic depiction of history in all it’s ugliness (including the brutal rape and murder of slaves, and the casual indifference in which owners refer to human beings as “niggers” like they're pets) makes the subsequent rise of the hero (a stand in for the audience) that much more heroic and self-empowering to those exiting the theater.  2 Live Crew’s Luther Campbell (now penning the “Luke’s Gospel” op-ed section of the Miami New Times) came back harshly at Lee:

  Writer / Director Spike Lee

     “Screw Spike Lee. Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED is a brilliant flick that more accurately depicts the African American experience than any of the 15 movies about black culture Lee's directed in his lifetime.

     “Lee needs to get over himself. He's upset because Tarantino makes better movies. The man who put MALCOLM X on the big screen is Hollywood's resident house negro; a bougie activist who wants to tell his fellow white auteurs how they can and can't depict African Americans”.  Spike is upset because Samuel L. Jackson's character in the movie is just like him: a conniving and scheming Uncle Tom“.
     CHAPPELLE SHOW comedian Donnell Rawlings has also derided Lee’s stance against the film, insinuating the director has become “irrelevant”.  And even legendary comedian / activist Dick Gregory has called Lee’s derision of Tarantino’s film the actions of a “thug” and a “punk”.   

 JAKE JOHANNSEN: "The 'N' Word' - "I LOVE YOU" (2010)



"It used to be 'Don't call me nigga!'
to - 'Yeah, I am a nigga ...
and don't you wish you were?' "

                    - Mos Def
     To some the emotional slant of the word “nigger”’s  usage in contemporary society (term of endearment or offensive racial epithet) varies depending on whether, in a socio-political lightning-rod version of “potato” (long “a“) or “potato“ (short “a"), one accents the second syllable with the softer more urban-user-friendly “ga” or the more stereotypically “rednecky” hard “r”.  But to others the word, regardless of how pronounced or by whom it is pronounced, will always and forever be a demeaningly offensive throwback reminder to narrow-minded, pre-Civil Rights days of national old.  

     At the center of this modern day ideological Civil War between people of color, practitioners of the creative arts (in film, music, television, comedy and other fields) have surprisingly found themselves between the proverbial “rock and a hard place”.  These artists, men and women of various races, have, to their amazement too,  found society turning to them for answers, ... or at the very least a pop-cultural “thumbs up" or "down" on the matter which has become a socio-political tinderbox. 

     Religion / mythology scholar - lecturer Joseph Campbell (1904 - 1987) opined that society has always (subconsciously or not) turned to it’s creative / artistic “philosophers” for help in sorting things out during intellectually and emotionally confusing times.  Look back at Socrates, Plato, Xenophon and even to the earliest writings, the tale of Gilgamesh, for proof that humankind consistently returns to the arts, almost as much as to religious faith itself, in an attempt to comprehend what makes itself tick, both positively and negatively, on it’s deepest psychological levels.  A rather hefty (and unfair) responsibility with which to be saddled for someone who merely wants to make someone laugh, dance or be carried away for few moments by a well wrought painting, photo, song or engaging story.  But there it is nonetheless.

     George Bernarad Shaw once wisely opined “If you're going to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh; otherwise they’ll kill you”.  And as such it was two of America's most legendary taboo breaking comedians, Lenny Bruce (1925 - 1966) and Richard Pryor (1940 - 2005), who, Crispus Attucks-like, would take the first shots from a public not yet ready to deal with issues of race in general ... and the “nigger / nigga" conundrum in particular.  

   Lenny Bruce


     Raised amidst anti-Semitism, Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce would, in the 1950s and 60s, rail against racism - particularly with one of his most famous (and controversial) routines, “Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?” - wherein racial epithets are tossed onto a figurative poker table as if societal playing chips. 

     Around this same time he'd accuse popular black singer / entertainer Pearl Bailey of being a “kiss-ass Uncle Tom” traitor to her own people; and that spoken opinion would get Bruce’s ass kicked on the lawn of the very night club in which he and Bailey performed - many to this day believing at the behest of Bailey to the club owners. 

"Are There Any Niggers Here Tonight?"


     Richard Pryor, on albums such as “That’s Nigger’s Crazy” and “Was It Something I Said?”, would  similarly and deliberately
(a’la Lenny Bruce - one of his comedic idols) “over use” the "infamous 'N'" in an attempt to nullify it’s hurtful impact on the young - hoping to make it just another phrase about which no one gave a damn. 

     Pryor would continue this crusade as co-scripter (with Mel Brooks and Andrew Bergman) of the hilarious anti-racisim comedy BLAZING SADDLES (1974), and even receive an Academy Award nomination for his efforts.  All this that is until a philosophical fulcrum shift he'd recount in 1982’s “LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP” skit “Motherland”. In it the comedian relates his first trip to Africa and subsequent guilt at saddling so noble a people with so non-flattering a negative word.  He’d abandon usage of the "infamous 'N'" from then on.

     In a turn of socio-artistic irony, Bruce and Pryor would ultimately succeed in taking the sting out of the "N".  And Pryor would live to even see it become a "positive" label in certain regards.  But his refusal to use the word himself would alternately label him a hero to some and hypocrite to others.   

Mos Def, Eddie Griffin, Jon Stewart, Colin Quinn, Wanda Sykes, Steve Harvey and more on
Richard Pryor and the "N" Word

  Chris Rock     

     A younger generation of revolutionary comics raised on Bruce, Pryor, George Carlin and other racial and religious taboo breakers would include D.L. Hugely, Colin Quinn, Cedric The Entertainer, George Wallace and more - all offering their own humorous take on the “‘N’.  But none would nail it as succinctly for the 1990s / 2000s hip-hop generation as Chris Rock in his now classic “Black People Vs. Niggaz” routine from 1996’s “Bring The Pain”.  

     Exploding on the scene like a Molotov cocktail,  “Black People Vs. Niggaz” shattered the glass wall of  (believe it or not) still unspoken “inter” and “intra” contemporary ethno sentiments which had been percolating for decades.  What uniquely made Rock's legendary routine so popular however wasn't it's liberal use of the "N", but rather it's surprising familiarity to cross-cultural audiences as all ethnic groups had and have their own  “factions” of which they themselves are none too proud.

CHRIS ROCK: "Black People Vs. Niggaz" - BRING THE PAIN (1996)

     It’s perhaps apropos that Rock’s “N” treatise came smack dab in the middle of the 1990s - arguably the ground zero artistic launch point from which African-American culture (and hip-hop culture in particular) would not only begin to influence U.S. music, cinematic and fashion style - ultimate contemporary definitions of pop culture cool, in a huge way, but those of the entire world.  In a sense Rock’s routine would even, unplanned (and perhaps unwanted), serve as the decade’s “fulcrum shift” point - wherein it’s refreshingly honest if controversial sentiments, now finally allowed to “air out”, would be taken up by that wind and "pollination”-like begin to see bigger and bolder thematic variations dotting up, then going on to dominate the multi-faceted artistic landscape. 

  Oscar Micheaux's THE GUNSAULUS MYSTERY (1921)    

      The African-American experience in American arts is as old as American arts themselves.  Widely considered a counter balance to the racism of D.W. Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION (1915 - aka “The Clansman”; wherein the KKK are painted as post Civil War patriots), the early century “race films” of black author / director  / entrepreneur Oscar Micheaux (THE HOMESTEADER, WITHIN OUR GATES, THE GUNSAULUS MYSTERY) would help embolden a faction of society, still considered second class citizens by many, to not only establish their own early film making industry (silents and “talkies“), but to create their own cinema distribution network via a national string of self-owned and operated theaters; all of this during the height of the Jim Crow era in many states.  

     The burgeoning voice of the African-American population would continue to find a degree of artistic expression via other venues over succeeding decades - from television series such as Diahann Carroll’s JULIA to Berry Gordy’s Motown music revolution of the 1960s.  But these would be more polite and mostly politically safe entreaties for equality and assimilation into the current culture rather than blatant (and what some considered “militant”) demands for equal recognition.  That wouldn’t occur until the "blaxploitation" film movement of the 1970s.   


"If there were more than five blacks on a corner they considered it a riot,
and they'd bring out the dogs and turn the water hoses on. 
All this stuff was still happening in the 70s, man!  And if you
fought back you went straight to jail.  The only way we could
get away with it was on the screen"

                                       - Fred (The "Hammer") Williamson

     Quentin Tarantino, long a fan and student of 1970s era cinema, opens DJANGO UNCHAINED (his homage to the Spaghetti Westerns and "blaxploitation" actioners of the day) in rousing fashion.  It’s main title sequence featuring old school “B” movie red title font, deliberately “low rent” and cheesy smash zooms by cinematographer Robert Richardson (JFK, HUGO), and a mythically retro theme song by legendary Argentine composer Luis Bacalov (ENTRE NOUS, B. MONKEY); all wonderfully colliding to recreate the pulp cinema look and feel of the bottom rung feature of a 70s era “$5.00 Bucks Per Carload” drive-in triple bill.  

     In 1858, during the antebellum era of the Deep South, a caravan of recently purchased male slaves being transported by the Speck Brothers (lead by Walter Hill character actor fave James Remar) is intercepted by German immigrant / former-dentist-turned-bounty-hunter Dr. King Schultz (Oscar winner Christoph Waltz).  Shultz frees the slaves in order to obtain the assistance of one of them, Django (Jamie Foxx), who can visually I.D. three wanted outlaws (the Brittle Bros.) who once tortured Django and his wife on a heinous plantation, and whom now represent a huge payday for the entrepreneurial former physician.  After tracking down, gunning down and being paid for the wanted men, Django and Schultz become a successful bounty hunting team throughout the winter months - these gorgeously photographed sequences an homage to Sergio Corbucci’s snow bound classic THE GREAT SILENCE - Il GRANDE SILENZIO (1968).  Schultz makes a pledge to Django that in exchange for partnering with him, he’ll help Django find his long lost wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), who was sold off to another plantation owner, and who’s German inspired name reawakens within Schultz memories of a romantic quest adventure tale he’d fallen in love with upon first hearing as a boy in his native homeland.   

Kerry Washington as Broomhilda

     The Italian or “Spaghetti” western (no one's sure of the origin of the famous cine-phrase, though it’s believed it began as derogatory) was the late 1960s Mediterranean answer to the American Western’s abandonment of the big screen when TV westerns such as BONANZA, GUNSMOKE and RAWHIDE (the later starring a young Clint Eastwood) robbed them of their cinematic thunder.  With the genre still popular in Europe, directors such as Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci, Enzo Barboni and others filled the void with hundreds of quickly and cheaply made, yet highly stylized, sagebrush actioners - most of them filmed in the Almerian desert of southeastern Spain.  

     At the time censorship stipulations such as the Hays Code in the U.S. - designed to curb “objectionable material” in film, were being challenged on the “depiction of sexuality” front by the popularity of both foreign imports like Britain’s A TASTE OF HONEY (‘61) and THE LEATHER BOYS (‘64) as well as with taboo breaking homegrown products such as ANATOMY OF A MURDER (’59), THE PAWNBROKER (’64) and WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (’66).  But there was no homegrown product yet challenging the Code’s stipulations on graphic (some would say realistic) depictions of violence. 

     That is until a small budget 1964 Spaghetti Western remake of Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO, entitled “IL MAGNIFICO STRANIERO" ("The Magnificent Stranger"), opened in the U.S. in 1967.  Starring RAWHIDE’s own Clint Eastwood as a brooding, violent, amoral “Man With No Name” hero?, it was renamed A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, became a major international hit and helped blast Hays Code stipulations concerning on screen violence (namely that bullets actually hurt!) into oblivion. 

1964 (1967 - U.S.)    

     Keep in mind all of this “barrier breaking” must be taken in the context of the era.  Today we live in a media saturated culture where depictions of sexuality and violence (even in our gaming) has reached such a degree of mostly casual explicitness, some feel it’s begun a cultural-wide desensitization.  But in the 1960s / early 70s, when Roe v. Wade was being argued; Civil, Gender and Gay rights were being battled for in the courts and on the streets, and the violence of war in the way of the Vietnam conflict were all harsh realities for the first time beamed into living rooms on a nightly basis, this lead to a displeasure by many against the now stagnant LEAVE IT TO BEAVER / John Wayne-esque visions of Hollywood.  Too many now felt these depictions were not only grossly outdated and silly “pie-in-the-sky-Americana”-isms, but were also racially ignorant and dangerously dishonest. 

     A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS would signal the trumpet charge for a more realistic depiction of violence, as well as a more realistic depiction of racial and gender bigotry in the old west - subject matter seldom tackled in the mainstream Gary Cooper-ish American western.  It would spawn a slew of now classic more realistic homegrown “oaters” such as THE WILD BUNCH, PAT GARRETT & BILLY THE KID and even the comedic BLAZING SADDLES.   

     The early 1970s (so called) blaxploitation film movement essentially began with Melvin Van Peebles’ independently financed  SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG (1/3rd of the film’s $150,000 budget on a loan from comedian Bill Cosby) and MGM’s SHAFT - directed on a shoestring (½ million dollars) by Pulitzer Prize-winning author / fashion & war correspondent / photographer Gordon Parkes.  Both films, released three months apart in early summer 1971, would take in over $15 million each (SHAFT saving MGM studios, then on the brink of receivership) and signal that there was a willing and profitable non-white demographic of cinemagoers willing to support product featuring characters of color “takin’ it to the man” as violently as he’d taken it to them over the years. 

     It was also refreshing and empowering for audiences to see these heroes of color not depicted as (in many previous films) borderline eunuchs, but rather scoring with the babes (and female heroes such as CLEOPATRA JONES and SHEBA BABY similarly lining up the studs), as well as - in another reversal from earlier cinema convention, surviving to the final reel to avenge the deaths of their partners, rather than they themselves being the “motivation” who’s deaths had served such narrative purpose previously. 

     For a brief period in the early 1970s “blaxploitation” cinema would not only branch into every conceivable genre with action (THREE THE HARD WAY, TRUCK TURNER), horror (BLACULA, SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM), westerns (THOMASINE & BUSHROD, SOUL SOLDIER), martial arts (BLACK BELT JONES), musicals (SPARKLE), nostalgia (COOLEY HIGH, FIVE ON THE BLACKHAND SIDE) and more, but would also alter the course of mainstream Hollywood’s output with international “crossover” hits such as LIVE AND LET DIE, ENTER THE DRAGON, ACROSS 110TH ST. and the 1978 Italian made WW2 adventure THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. 

Woody Strode as John Ford's SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (1960)    

     BASTARDS is notable in that, because of the popularity at the time of the film's former football star turned action movie icon - Fred Williamson, the movie’s U.S. distributor re-cut scenes to make Williamson (and not Bo Svenson) the leader of the group of ex-cons turned war heroes.  For U.S. release BASTARDS would also be renamed G.I. BRO and carry the tagline “If You’re A Kraut, … He’ll Take You Out”.   

     As had also the Spaghetti Western, so would the blaxploitation movement shatter previously held cinematic taboos; chief among these an infinitely more intense examination and commentary on racism in America's past and present.  There had been sporadic big screen depictions of American bigotry in film.  Among them John Ford’s laudable courtroom drama SERGEANT RUTLEDGE (1960) - starring African-American icon Woody Strode (though he get’s fourth billing) as a 9th Calvary “Buffalo Soldier” 1st Sgt. accused of the murder of his white commanding officer and rape of the man’s wife.  And even earlier there was Sam Fuller’s searing THE STEEL HELMET (1951) - detailing the moral conflicts of a multi-ethnic U.S. platoon during the Korean War.  But even these were (like TV's JULIA and the Motown movement) more politically polite “entreaties” from liberal minded film makers, whereas the films of the blaxploitation era would possess a “take no prisoners” attitude.  Whereas SERGEANT RUTLEDGE was the cinematic equivalent of Martin Luther King Jr., the new films would be more Malcolm X ... and equally as polarizing.  They'd be straight up, non-conformist and very, VERY "street", right down to the harsh language used.  As such the almighty “N” word would feature prominently, and it's liberal usage would divide audiences. 

“DJANGO” (1966) / “BOSS NIGGER” (1974): 

"Most black westerns either ignore race or make it the fundamental point of the movie. 
BOSS NIGGER somehow manages to do both quite successfully"

Vincent Canby (The New York Times - 1974)


     As mentioned earlier, DJANGO UNCHAINED’s stunning winter scenes are very much visually inspired by Corbucci’s THE GREAT SILENCE.  Notwithstanding, the most influential (if obscure to some) sources to which Tarantino pays homage / borrows from thematically, visually and viscerally in his actioner are Sergio Corbucci’s original “Spaghetti Western” DJANGO (1966) along with the trio of immensely popular Fred Williamson saddle-bag thrillers, THE LEGEND OF NIGGER CHARLEY (1972),  THE SOUL OF NIGGER CHARLEY (1973) and BOSS NIGGER (1974). 

     In Corbucci’s DJANGO the titular character, portrayed by Franco Nero (who has an amusing cameo in Tarantino’s film), drags about a coffin filled with weapons with which he guns down all standing in the way of a vengeance quest launched in response to the murder of his beloved wife.  Next to Sergio Leone’s “Man With No Name Trilogy” (and THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY in particular) no Italian western would stylistically and tonally have as much influence on subsequent American horse-opera  archtypes as would DJANGO.  Clint Eastwood’s own HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, UNFORGIVEN and (especially) PALE RIDER would echo it’s vibe, look and feel to a “t“.  And “coffins filled with weapons” would become pop culture signature sequences in films like TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES as well as the Japanese manga COWBOY BEBOP and GUNGRAVE.  Sly (and not-so-sly) DJANGO references would also pop up in animated take offs such as Gore Verbinski’s popular RANGO starring Johnny Depp, a 2003 song reference by the punk group Rancid, and most notably in over 30 unofficial Italian movie sequels over the years - which have only the name “Django” (and nothing else - characters or scenarios) in common with the Corbucci / Nero original.

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