Quentin Tarantino occupies the first 10 minutes or so of Luca Rea’s Sergio Corbucci documentary Django & Django, and it’s a sign of things to come. The genre director and New Beverly Cinema owner has been a self-declared Corbucci connoisseur for as long as he’s been interested in movies. The homages to Corbucci’s beloved schlock-fests Django, The Specialists and The Great Silence in The Hateful Eight and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and, duh, Django Unchained are evidence enough.
Does that obsession justify as sizable a space in Rea’s documentary as he’s given? (He’s even on the poster.) Well, that’s a matter of taste. Even so, though Tarantino’s films have divided audiences for as long as he’s been making them, the director is inarguably one of the most compelling talkers-about-movies around. Rea uses his contributions as much as he does because, certainly compared with the gallery of elderly gentlemen who worked with Corbucci on his iconic Spaghetti Westerns, Tarantino is an arresting visual presence.
Not that he has as much to say about Corbucci himself. Corbucci died in 1990 and never met Tarantino. The maestro worked on 17 films with actor Ruggero Deodato, who gives a sense of Sergio the man. And Franco Nero (the original Django) pops up to talk about some of the fiery tensions on Corbucci’s sets. This is meat and drink stuff: if you like the movie-making process at all, the chaos and hilarity of Sergio’s sets is a nice, if uncomplicated, hot meal. A bit like his movies.
What’s a tad more surprising is that Rea seems to think Tarantino is, in some way, the next Corbucci. Or at least the living embodiment of Corbucci’s raunchy, slapstick style. The second seems more accurate. Even Tarantino admits Corbucci could only ever hope to be the second-best Spaghetti Western director. Sergio Leone, who made the Dollars trilogy and then returned decades later with tonal reverse Once Upon A Time in America, will always have top-spot.
And being second-best is something which thrilled, if not inspired, Corbucci. There was a scrappiness to his reputation which matched that of his films. Less suave and sophisticated than his loftier namesake, Corbucci’s prolific filmography was full of punchy anti-fascist populism in between actual punching. It didn’t seek to transcend. He was a little sillier, less artful, and in a way freer to do what he liked.
Rea’s convincing conclusion is that Corbucci certainly would never have made Once Upon A Time in America – partly because he wouldn’t have known how to, mostly because he would never have wanted to.