Western Movies

Digging for Treasure

Rebuilding an underdog Spaghetti Western, The Big Gundown.

Bob Murawski_Spaghetti Western_The Big Gundown

Click image above for larger view

Bob Murawski loves movies, and not in that bogus “Citizen Kane resonates on so many levels” kind of way. His is a dedication to underdog flicks, their history and their preservation.

Even for an Academy Award-winning film editor, rebuilding an underdog flick is no easy task because the companies that handled these genre films years ago shucked them aside, after playing them off on double bills and at drive-ins. The studios considered these films disposable, with zero thought to the talent that went into them, or the value these films would have years later.

When Columbia Pictures released The Big Gundown, starring Lee Van Cleef, in 1966, the one-sheets declared, “Mr. Ugly Comes to Town!” to take advantage of Van Cleef’s success in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The problem is that Van Cleef was actually “the Bad.” But that blatant disregard for accuracy only reinforced the studio’s indifference for one of the actor’s very best films, making the movie a perfect treasure for rediscovery via Murawski’s Grindhouse Releasing.

Murawski began the company in 1996 with his good friend Sage Stallone. “I worked for a film distributor in Detroit, and we were handling movies like Gates of Hell and, later on, the Troma stuff. When I met Sage, these were the kinds of movies he liked, especially the Italian stuff, and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in trying to get them out. They were basically considered junk, exploitation films, but we wanted to do them right. Sage was shooting Daylight with his dad [Sylvester] during the day, and when he wasn’t working, he was on the phone tracking down prints of these Italian horror movies.”

The problem that both Murawski and Stallone encountered is a familiar one to film archivists: neglect. The prints and negatives had been haphazardly stored and sustained real damage.

The technicians in Rome weren’t fazed at all: “I was at Technicolor to look at the negative for The Beyond. It was in a rusty can in the corner, and the guys just didn’t care. We were looking at reel two, and there was this big tear, and the lab guy says, ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry,’ grabbed a piece of splicing tape, and pressed it onto the negative—with his thumb!”

Cannibal Ferox was Grindhouse’s first release, followed by Horror maestro Lucio Fulci’s The Beyond and the...

The full text of this article is available to registered users of TrueWestMagazine.com. Register now!

Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on TrueWestMagazine.com, please log in below.

Already Registered?

SUBSCRIBE today and save!

Get instant access to subscriber content on TrueWestMagazine.com!

When it comes to keeping the lore of the West alive, nobody does it better. True West readers get the no-holds-barred, straight shootin' facts about the West from our staff of experts and historians.

Save up to 67% off the newsstand cover price!

1 year (12 issues) - only $29.95
(Newsstand cover price--$71.88)

For even greater savings:

2 years (24 issues) - only $49.95
(Newsstand cover price--$143.76)

3 years (36 issues) - only $69.95
(Newsstand cover price--$215.64) BEST OFFER!

After subscribing, just come back here and register with us by clicking on the register link below.

True West Site Guide

Mission

True West captures the spirit of the American West with authenticity, personality and humor by linking our history to our present. Whether you call it the Wild West, the Old West or the Far West, America's frontier history comes to life in True West, the world's oldest, continuously published Western Americana magazine.

Western movie fans, re-enactors, history buffs and road warriors, we got your history covered: outlaw, cowboy, Indian, lawman, gunfighter, fur trapper, miner, prospector, gambler, soldier, entertainer and pioneer. Check out these True Westerners now!
 

Product of the Month

The Illustrated Life and Times of Wyatt Earp

Wyatt Earp

"Your book is fascinating, coupling your powerful illustrations [and] tracking...from birth to Tombstone to the legend [Wyatt] had become;...even Wyatt would approve." --By Hugh O'Brian, of the TV series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp

"Hands down the definitive books on Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday." --By Allen Barra, New York Newsday