Giuliano Carnimeo, who died last saturday, September 10, aged 84, in Rome, is best known to large audiences for his Sartana movies starring Gianni Garko (three times) and George Hilton (once), but he was a very versatile director, active within genres as various as giallo, science fiction and erotic comedy (Commedia sexy all'italiana). Like most Italians working within the genre industry he chose an anglicized pseudonym: Anthony Ascott
Carnimeo took over the Sartana franchise from Giancarlo Parolini (who had invented the character) after Parolini had fallen out with producer Aldo Addobati; he pushed the series into a more satirical direction, turning Sartana into a Houdini-like illusionist, equipped with outlandish props and gadgets. In an obituary on an Italian website he was called l’inventatore del western comico, the inventor of the Italian western comedy style. In 1968, several years before Barboni scored his striking successes with the Trinity movies, Carnimeo had made the serio comic The Moment to Kill, a movie that offered the blueprint for the Trinity formula with a combination of a good-looking, cheerful gunman (George Hilton) and a bulldozer type of side-kick (Walter Barnes)
Carnimeo’s first venture into the western genre, was a rather serious spaghetti western, Find a Place to Die. It’s not a masterpiece, but for some reason it’s very dear to me: it’s one of those movies I return to on a regular base, because they give me the right feeling, the feeling that ‚I’m home’, that is: home with my favorite genre. Apart from all this, the film is remarkable for a couple of specific reasons:
a) It’s one of the very few Italian westerns without a single scène shot in one of the Roman western towns (Elios, Cinécittà, Di Paolis, etc.): the movie is entirely shot on location (mainly in the Manzanaria area, north-east of Rome)
b) It stars Jeffrey Hunter in one of his last starring roles before his premature death (due to an intracranial hemorrhage) in 1969. At the time Hunter was an almost forgotten Hollywood actor making some easy money in Europe, but twelve years earlier, in 1956, he had appeared as John Wayne’s nephew Martin Pawley in The Searchers
c) It has one of the best scenes Carnimeo ever did: a sultry scene set in improvised saloon (in the middle of nowhere), featuring the incredibly beautiful Daniela Giordana performing the theme song Find a place to die, with Jeffrey Hunter humming some background vocals (Daniela is not really singing; it's actually the voice of Jula de Palma).
As said, Carnimeo is best known for his spaghetti westerns featuring the character of Sartana, the James Bond of the spaghetti western. The two Sartana actors, Gianni Garko and George Hilton, were both present at his funeral in Rome. After the service, Garko asked the family of the deceased permission to speak a few words about his old friend, the man he called il piccolo grande uomo di nostro cinema, the great little man of our cinema, little not because he lacked talent but because critics at home and abroad never showed any real interest in his work.
These are some of the words spoken by Garko:
"All'epoca, quasi cinquant'anni fa, erano centinaia di migliaia gli spettatori che riempivano le sale in Italia e all'estero, oggi, grazie alla diffusione delle copie digitali, la platea è diventata ancora più vasta, e le schiere dei fans dei suoi film ora più che mai continuano a guardare e gioire con le storie raccontate da lui, Antony Ascott. Giuliano prediligeva le scene con sfumature ironiche, quando trovava una gag, rideva di gusto, molto divertito. Sul set si mostrava deciso, netto, aveva idee chiare, mai rigide, grande dimestichezza con gli attori."
(At the time, some fifty years ago, hundreds of thousands moviegoers watched the movies in cinemas in Italy and abroad, and today, thanks to the availability of the movies on DVD, the audiences have become even larger and a growing number of fans keep watching and are enjoying those stories told by him, Anthony Ascott. Giuliano liked to add an ironic touch to his scenes, and when he had found a gag, he laughed out loud, enjoying himself very well. On the set he was always strict, correct, his ideas were always clear and outspoken, but never rigid, and he always worked on a good relationship with his actors.)
R.I.P. Giuliano Carnimeo
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