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Christopher Forsley

Film Critic

San Francisco

Christopher Forsley

"I regard criticism as an art. . . If you think it is so easy to be a critic, so difficult to be a poet or a painter or film experimenter, may I suggest you try both? You may discover why there are so few critics, so many poets"
~ Pauline Kael, aired on KPFA in 1963.

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5 Underrated Films From Highly Rated Filmmakers

Cinema’s greatest filmmakers have taken their greatest films up mountains that tower above the films that dot the hillside below. Sometimes a great filmmaker has to spend years on the hillside before building up the strength to scale a mountain with a film. Other times, a great filmmaker reaches a creative peak early in his career but then must descend from it and spend time on the hillside regaining the energy to scale another mountain with another film.
Film Monthly Link to Story
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Sam Peckinpah’s Elliot Rodger

Good films entertain, great films enlighten, and some films, the greatest of the great, do all these things, and they keep doing them for all eternity… or at least until governments ban them for challenging the status-quo. Often the greatness of them isn’t obvious upon their release. Eventually, though, something baffling will happen to us, or the world we live in, and we’ll realize that in the previously unrecognized film, an explanation lives like a gold nugget just waiting to enrich the lives of its viewers today.
The Daily Caller Link to Story
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Stanley Kubrick Wanted a Taste of Terry Southern’s Lamb-Pit

I love fucking Terry Southern. That came out wrong. I never fucked the writer, at least not proper fucked. But I have been fucking him intellectually, off and on, for a few decades now. By that I mean I’ve read his literary work: Flash and Filigree, Candy, The Magic Christian, and Blue Movie, on several occasions, going deeper each time.
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'A Town Called Hell' Divides the Argument Over What Is a Spaghetti Western

Ten years goes by, and we see that this Aguila has forsaken his name and become a priest of a small village in an attempt to hide from his past. But when a widow named Alvira (Stella Stevens), whose husband was one of the murdered innocents, arrives to the town, Aguila’s past comes back to haunt him.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'Buddy Goes West' Is an Unambitious Bud Spencer Comedy With an Excellent Morricone Score

For most spaghetti western fans outside of Italy, the name Bud Spencer is synonymous with the name Terence Hill. Best known for their partnership in the incredibly popular They Call Me Trinity (1970) and its sequel Trinity Is Still My Name (1971), the two appeared in, produced, and directed over 20 films together — most of which are burlesque comedies that lovingly lampoon the genre.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'Sartana Your Angel of Death' Is Part Illusionist, Part Mystic

Because of the first Sartana film, Gianfranco Parolini’s If You Meet Sartana… Pray For Your Death (1968), I was both wary and excited going into I Am Sartana Your Angel of Death (1969), the second installment in the original cycle of Sartana films. Parolini was replaced with the less experienced Giuliano Carnimeo, and as such, I was concerned that many of the best aspects of the first film would be lost.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'Wanted' Is a Spaghetti Western That Will Leave You Wanting

With his elaborate stunts and lady killer smile, Giuliano Gemma ranks among the most popular spaghetti western stars. He’s not the greatest actor in the genre, but he’s one of the most fun to watch, easiest to root for, and most productive. While his films range in quality, which is only natural for a spaghetti western actor, his productivity has led fans of the genre to develop a familiarity with him that makes his presence a pleasure, regardless of how mediocre the film he stars in is.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'Blindman' Is the Peerless Freak of Spaghetti Westerns

When discovering movies like Blindman (1971), I am overcome with equal parts hope and despair. The fact that such an insane story found serious financing and that so many talented people were a part of it gives me hope in the possibilities of cinema, but it also makes me despair at the reality of cinema.
PopMatters Link to Story
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Jeffery Hunter Starred in 'Find a Place to Die' Just a Year Before His Tragic Death

Cast: Jeffrey Hunter, Pascale Petit, Piero Lulli, Daniela Giordana, Adolfo Lastretti, Gianni Pallavicino, Reza Fazeli, Nello Pazzafini, Mario Dardanelli. More than a decade before he took on the lead role in the forgotten spaghetti western Find A Place To Die (1968), Jeffrey Hunter played John Wayne’s sidekick in The Searchers (1956), arguably the best of America’s traditional westerns.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'Twice a Judas' Is Saved by Klaus Kinski's Brilliant Acting

Cast: Klaus Kinski, Antonio Sabato, José Calvo [as Pepe Calvo], Franco Leo, Cristina Galbó , Emma Baron, Linda Sini, Narciso Ibanez Menta. For a spaghetti western, Twice a Judas (1969) develops slowly; its plot is as meandering as a monk walking in the moonlight. The film begins by showing what looks like two bodies laying dead atop a desolate desert mountain, but when a frenzied flock of vultures begin pecking away at them, one of the the bodies jumps up and unloads several rounds from a shotgun into the flying scavengers.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'For a Few Dollars More' Is a Rare Sequel That Is Superior to the Classic It Follows

The archetype of the spaghetti western finds its truest expression in this essential film from Sergio Leone. If Sergio Leone’s first installment in the “Dollar Trilogy”, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), defined the future of the spaghetti western genre, his second installment, For a Few Dollars More (1965), guaranteed the genre’s future.
PopMatters Link to Story
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'4 Dollars of Revenge' Is the Spaghetti Western That Concludes With a Swordfight

Cast: Robert Woods, Dana Ghia, Angelo Infanti, Antonio Casas, José Manuel Martín, Gérard Tichy, Antonio Molino Rojo. The film 4 Dollars of Revenge (1966) begins by introducing two friends and fellow calvary members, Captain Roy Dexter (Robert Woods) and Barry Halet (Angelo Infani). They are both trying to wed the same big-breasted blonde, Mercedes Spencer (Dana Ghia), but she chooses Dexter, who plans to retire from the calvary and run for governor against a man named Hamilton (Gérard Tichy).
PopMatters Link to Story

About

Christopher Forsley

Christopher Forsley was born in Massachusetts, raised in Arizona, and is living in California. Contact him at ChristopherForsley@gmail.com with freelance assignments or other job offers. He also accepts ghostwriting gigs when the money is right.

Besides criticism and the occasional piece of humor, he writes comic books and strips. His brother and collaborator, Cameron Forsley, illustrates these along with many of the essays and reviews found above. They share a website at www.The ForsleyBrothers.com