Arts & Entertainment

NYT: Quentin Tarantino discusses race and racism in Westerns

"Any of the Western directors who had something to say created their own version of the West: Anthony Mann created a West that had room for the characters played by Jimmy Stewart and Gary Cooper; Sam Peckinpah had his own West; so did Sergio Leone. Sergio Corbucci did, too — but his West was the most violent, surreal and pitiless landscape of any director in the history of the genre. His characters roam a brutal, sadistic West.

Corbucci dealt with racism all the time; in his “Django,” the bad guys aren’t the Ku Klux Klan, but a surreal stand-in for them. They’re killing Mexicans, but it’s a secret organization where they wear red hoods — it’s all about their racism toward the Mexican people in this town. In “Navajo Joe,” the scalp hunters who are killing the Indians for their scalps are as savage as the Manson Family. It’s one of the great revenge movies of all time: Burt Reynolds as the Navajo Joe character is a one-man-tornado onslaught. The way he uses his knife and bum-rushes the villains, rough-and-tumbling through the rocks and the dirt, is magnificent. I heard he almost broke his neck doing the movie, and it looks it. Before “The Wild Bunch” was released, “Navajo Joe” was the most violent movie that ever carried a Hollywood studio logo. "

Get the Story:
Quentin Tarantino Tackles Old Dixie by Way of the Old West (by Way of Italy) (The New York TImes Magazine 9/30)

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