Friday, March 19, 2010

Duccio Tessari on Cottafavi and Giulano Gemma

Duccio Tessari: With Cottafavi, I very much enjoyed writing the initial scene of the reunion of the four kings in ERCOLE ALLA CONQUISTA DI ATLANTIDE: (Gian Maria) Volonte, (Enrico Maria) Salerno, (Giancarlo) Sbragia and (Ivo) Garrani. It was at the time that the four had put together a Company of Associated Actors and gave us "Sacco e Vanzetti" (on stage). We were all good friends and one wished to give a helping hand to their group, which clearly wasn't awash with gold. I gave their names to Cottafavi for the scene of the kings. Then I spoke to Sbragia, advising that with these four in place on the film, their pay would be good enough to resolve their existential problems for the next couple of months, and likewise for the other in the cooperative. So the matter came to fruition, and an amusing scene came out of it, with these neurotic kings in a parliment not too different from ours.
I had chosen (Giuliano) Gemma for a tiny role in MESSALINA VENERE IMPERATRICE (MESSALINA, 1960), that of the beheaded man. In the sense that he was beheaded off-screen and then Messalina, during the banquet sequence, lifts the lid of a tray and finds his head beneath it. He was forced to stay in this position all day with a tray that had been built around his neck, and on which they had placed strips of cow meat to make the edges less clean and the effect more realistic, whilst underneath the rest of him was dressed as a fireman because, as soon as he had completed the scene, he was obliged to represent the vigilant body of firefighters who were attached to miliary service.
Gemma had struck me with his good character and patience. However, after MESSALINA, I totally forgot about him, up to a morning four years later, when I ran into him by chance while I wandered betweent he market stalls of Porta Portese in search of Gramophone records. At the time I was completing the auditions for ARRIVANO I TITANI (aka SONS OF THUNDER, aka MY SON THE HERO). I wanted him, (Franco) Cristaldi was undecided, and I had to perform a small opera of convincing arguments before I was able to offer Gemma the role. Then Gemma again disappeared from my horizon, and I made several other films but without finding too much success, until three years later, after I had written PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI (A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS), it came into my head to do a Western and I took him on as my protagonist.

No comments:

Post a Comment