Cult Classics: NAVAJO JOE (1966).

Posted: July 18, 2011 in Burt Reynolds, Cult Classics, Movies (N), Pretty Girls, Westerns

Anthology Film Archives is hosting a fantastic film series this week, curated by Bill Lustig, a legend of the kind of movies I so often return to writing about on this site.  (Read my piece on his Robert Forster/Fred Williamson action flick Vigilante!)

Bill Lustig isn’t just a genre director, he’s also a filmmaker of excellent and rare taste.  The movies selected for this series include the rarely-screened Dennis Hopper/ Warren Oates/ Peter Boyle movie Kid Blue from The Muppet Movie director James Frawley, the rarely-screened Peter Falk/ Warren Oates/ Peter Boyle movie The Brink’s Job from The Exorcist director William Friedkin, and the super-rarely-screened The Super Cops from Shaft director Gordon Parks!

Besides all of that greatness, there will be two worthy selections from the filmography of  Sergio Corbucci, The Mercenary, starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance, and Navajo Joe, which is screening on Tuesday night at 9:15pm, and on July 25th at 7:00pm.  I recommend this one in particular, because it’s weird, badass, bizarre, and fun.

Navajo Joe (A Dollar A Head) (Savage Run) (1966)

Directed by: Sergio Corbucci

Navajo Joe is a thoroughly underrated Italian Western, even among cinephiliacs who know about ‘em.  It begins with a legitimately brutal opening scene, and continues through, at a slightly less violent pace, with some memorably cool cinematography by Silvano Ippoliti.  The pretty pictures are key because they help to spotlight one of the hottest ladies I’ve ever seen in a spaghetti Western (after Claudia Cardinale, of course, always) – her name is Nicoletta Machiavelli.  Really!


Other things to keep an eye and ear out for in Navajo Joe:  Spaghetti Western regular Aldo Sambrell as a villain who looks very much like Jimmy Kimmel;  a comedy sidekick with one of the biggest noses in human history; a familiar Morricone score if you’ve seen Kill Bill or Election (Tarantino and Payne know their film history), and BURT REYNOLDS.

Yes, this is an early starring role for Clint’s old buddy Burt Reynolds, and one of Burt’s few straight-up Westerns.  Burt’s pretty serious here, which isn’t what he’s best known to be, but as an action lead, he’s pretty good.  As a Navajo Indian, no less!  (Burt has Native American heritage so it’s not as absurd as you may be thinking.)

Also, in Navajo Joe Burt gets to utter what has become one of my favorite movie quotes ever:  “Some jobs a man can’t do.  But the big blond can do it… maybe.”

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