Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 10th, 2005
Theatrical Release Dates: Italy, December 21st, 1973 (My Name is Nobody), December 19th, 1975 (Nobody’s The Greatest)
Directors: Tonino Valerii (My Name is Nobody), Damiano Damiani, Sergio Leone (Nobody’s The Greatest)
Writers: Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, Ernesto Gastaldi, Damiano Damiani
Cast: Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, Jean Martin, Piero Lulli, Mario Brega, Miou-Miou, Robert Charlebois, Patrick McGoohan
DVD released:August, 2005
Approximate running time: 112 minutes (My Name is Nobody), 119 minutes (Nobody’s The Greatest)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (Both Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono German (Both Films)
Subtitles: English, German (Both Films)
DVD Release: Paramount
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (Germany)
Retail Price: $47.95
My Name is Nobody: Jack Beauregard (Henry Fonda) is an aging gunslinger who is on his way to New Orleans to catch a boat and ride off into the sunset. Sullivan is an owner of an ore mine that has been illegally mixing stolen gold with the ore and Sullivan will do anything to keep this a secret including hiring several assassins to take care of Jack Beauregard. Nobody (Terence Hill) is a laid back cowboy who wants to see his hero Jack Beauregard, leave the west in style. Nobody’s plan is that Jack should single handedly take on all 150 of the wild bunch to seal his place in history. Will Jack over come all the obstacles that stand in his way of arriving in New Orleans on time or will his friendship with Nobody seal his fate?My Name is Nobody is Sergio Leone’s swan song to old west. He explores many ideas in this film that had been done before in the hugely successful My Name is Trinity series which had even eclipsed Leone’s pervious box office successes. My Name is Nobody was co-directed by Tonino Valerii who had previous worked with Leone as an assistant director on For a Few more Dollars. My Name is Nobody bears a strong resemblance to Tonino Valerii’s 1967 western Day of Anger which also features an aging gunslinger who takes on a younger apprentice in a father/son like relationship.
The film opens with a scene that is classic Leone at his best as three gunmen take over a barber shop and position themselves as they wait to ambush Jack Beauregard. The scene has been masterfully cut as a clock ticks in the background the tension builds to a fever pitch that will make your jaw drop to the floor. Early on the film establishes is slapstick roots letting the viewer known that this is not your typical Leone western. Henry Fonda who had previous worked with Leone in Once Upon a Time in The West stars as Jack Beauregard. Leone is a master at drawing out and emphasizing the rituals of a dual. Unlike his previous collaboration with Leone in which Fonda played a sadistic heavy this time around he is playing a character that is the mirror opposite.
By the time My Name is Nobody started filming Henry Fonda was already in the twilight of his career and his status a legend in the world of cinema had already been firmly established making playing a larger then life character like Jack Beauregard a perfect choice. Despite his age the character of Jack Beauregard hasn’t lost any of skill or speed as a gunslinger. After the success of the My Name is Trinity series Terence Hill had become Italy’s biggest box office draw and teaming with Leone would mark a high point in his career. Terence Hill portrayal of Nobody is just an expansion of his Trinity character. The teaming up of Fonda as the straight man and Hill as the fall guy is inspired as the actors perfectly complement each others strengths.
Frequent Leone collaborator Ennio Morricone composed the films music. He composed themes for each of films leads characters before filming began just like he had done previously for other Leone films. One of the most memorable moments in My Name is Nobody takes place when Jack Beauregard takes on the wild bunch. The way the scene unfolds with Morricone’s heart breaking music make this on of Leone’s greatest scenes. Leone’s style more then any other spaghetti western director was often imitated and no one ever came close to matching his epic feel that resonates through out all of his work. With My Name is Nobody Leone manages to come through the experience unscathed and he looks comfortable in his shoes. It is amazing watching him adapt to this name style of spaghetti western. Leone has always obsessed with details in his films and in this film everything has been gone over with fine tooth comb. There is an amusing scene that takes place in an Indian grave in which Nobody is reading the names on the Tombstones and he comes across the name Sam Sam Peckinpah (who’s is referenced more then once in the film). Nobody unlike Leone’s previous protagonists is not motivated by revenge or money he is only along for the ride as he watches his hero Jack Beauregard ride off into the sunset.
Nobody’s The Greatest: Joe Thanks (Terence Hill) is a gun slinging vagabond who mouth is a quick as his trigger finger. Colonel Pembroke and his daughter are on their way to Fort Christabel to visit a Major Cabot (Patrick McGoohan) who is a notorious Indian murderer who has been staging fake Indian attacks to drive them off their land. Major Cabot also has amassed a small fortune of about $300,000 which he keeps guarded at Fort Christabel. Joe with the help of his two friends Bill Locomotiva and Lucy concocts a plan in which his two friends would pose as Colonel Pembroke and his daughter to help them gain access into Fort Christabel and the $300,000. Will their plan go off without a hitch or will they find their necks at the end of a noose?
Nobody’s the Greatest is only a sequel to My Name is Nobody in name only as none of the characters from My Name is Nobody appear in Nobody’s the Greatest which is also known as A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe. Nobody’s the Greatest was directed by Damiano Damiani who is most known for his police thrillers like Confessions of a Police Captain and How to Kill a Judge. Damiani isn’t a complete novice when it came to directing a spaghetti western having already directed the politically laced A Bullet for the General. His direction in Nobody’s the Greatest fails to capture the epic feel that is present in all of Sergio Leone’s films. The best scene in the film direction wise is the films iconic opening that has all the hallmarks we have come to expect in a Sergio Leone film and rumor has it that this scene was directed by Sergio Leone which would also explain why it feels out of place with the rest of the film.
Even the ever so reliable Ennio Morricone who provides the films score appears to be unsure of himself as the music feels like another composer trying to mimic Morricone. The convoluted plot never firmly establishes any direction and despite the chaotic feel of the film there are few outstanding moments most notable the dual between Terence Hill and Klaus Kinski. For the most aprt all the performances are average at best except of course Terence Hill who steals the show from the moment he makes his enigmatic entrance off a stage coach while he is sleeping. His mastery of physical comedy is second to none as he effortlessly counters each action and reaction. Overall despite of its shortcomings Nobody’s the Greatest makes a nice companion piece to the vastly superior My Name is Nobody.
Paramount presents My name is Nobody in anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For this release Paramount has sourced the original camera negative for its High Definition 24psf 1080 transfer. The colors are vibrant and nicely saturated with natural looking flesh tones. The black levels are solid as they remain strong through out with an exceptional amount of detail present in every frame. Not only are details heightened in medium range and close up shots with the same amount of clarity that is also present on the wider angle shots. There are no problems with compression, artifacts or edge enhancement. This is the fifth DVD incarnation of My Name is Nobody and words can’t truly describe how amazing this progressive scan transfer looks Paramount’s release is flawless. This release comes with two audio options English and German language audio tracks both which are presented here in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog is crystal clear and there are no problems with distortion or hiss. The music and effects sounds robust. They are evenly mixed as they never overpower the other. Ennio Morricone’s excellent score benefits the most from the mix as it fully envelopes the listener. English and German subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Paramount presents Nobody’s The Greatest in anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. For this release Paramount has sourced a 35mm print for its High Definition 24psf 1080 transfer. Apparently Nobody’s The Greatest original camera negative was stolen years ago and to this day has never resurfaced. Colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look healthy. The black levels are good but lack detail in darker scenes and wider angle shots. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and there is some mild edge enhancement. This is the second DVD incarnation of Nobody’s The Greatest and this progressive scan transfer is the best this film has looked since its theatrical release. This release comes with two audio options English and German language audio tracks both which are presented here in a Dolby Digital mono. The dialog is clean and easy to understand. The music and effects track sounds evenly mixed. There are no problems with distortion or hiss. English and German subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for My Name is Nobody include the films original English language trailer and two DVD promo trailers one for the Nobody films and the dollars films. Both of these promo trailers are in German only and come with no subtitles. There is a 11 page text extra in English about the transfer and DVD encoding of My Name is Nobody that gives a detailed look into the restoration that went into this DVD transfer. Other extras include a gallery that has music from the film playing in the background while poster art. Lobby cards, stills and other memorabilia are shown like a featurette. “Nobody in the News” is a collection of rare press books with most of the text being in German. Two of the more bizarre extras are a 8mm promo reel that has about a half dozen scenes form the movie in black & white and slightly letterboxed. The overall quality for this extra is not that good as the elements are in bad shape. Also included for this release is about seven minutes of the film in 8mm and black & white. The quality is not very good on this extra either. The main extra for this release is a seventy three minute documentary titled “Nobody’s Perfect” which is mostly narrated in German with a few interview segments with Terence Hill. English subtitles have been included for this extra that are easy to read and follow. Besides discussing My Name is Nobody virtually all of Leone’s films are discussed as well as many other spaghetti westerns. This documentary covers so much in so little time and it is greatly benefited by the wonderful recollections from Terence Hill. Rounding out the extras is a thirty five minute documentary titled “Dusted” which talks about the restoration of My Name is Nobody, as well as other home video formats and other technical issues.
Extras for Nobody’s The Greatest include two DVD promo trailers one for the Nobody films and the dollars films. Other extras include a gallery titled “Wanted The Genius” that has music from the film playing in the background while poster art. Lobby cards, stills and other memorabilia are shown like a featurette. “The Genius in the News” is a collection of rare press books with the text in German only. Also included for this release is about seven minutes of the film in 8mm and black & white. The image is almost full frame and looks awful. The main extra for this release is a twenty seven minute documentary titled “Nobody’s does it half as good as you” which is mostly narrated in German with a few interview segments with Terence Hill. English subtitles have been included for this extra that are easy to read and follow. The documentary discusses in depth the troubles this production went through and how Sergio Leone all but washed his hands of this project. Rounding out the extras is a nine minute Q&A with Terence Hill who discusses working with Sergio Leone and the trinity Films.
Paramount has put together an impressive package that is loaded with a wealth of extras that are just icing on the cake for their first rate work on these two films audio/video presentations making these the definitive releases for My Name is Nobody and Nobody’s The Greatest. My Name is Nobody is one of best spaghetti westerns ever made while its successor Nobody’s The Greatest is a fabulous that reveals in its owns excess, highly recommended.