One of the reasons that we recently picked the 1966 Django flick to cover on the podcast was because of the impending (at the time) release of Quentin Tarantino’s new spaghetti-infused western Django: Unchained. Having seen the Sergio Corbucci original a few times I was really looking forward to what QT was going to put together for his take on the Django namesake. Of course Tarantino never really pulls from just one source of influence, actually it’s quite common for thirty or more films to creep into any one of his flicks. So even though there are some subtle (and not so subtle) homages to the original film, Django: Unchained takes the bulk of its tone and elements from other flicks. This past week I stumbled upon a flim that had a heavy influence on DU, so much so that I was really kind of shocked that it’s not popping up in more news stories about the new Tarantino flick. So what film am I talking about? The 1971 Raquel Welch rape and revenge western Hannie Caulder…
Written and Directed by Burt Kennedy (with Peter Cooper as co-writer), Hannie Caulder follows the story of the titular character (played by Welch), a young cattleman’s wife who is brutally beaten and raped by three desperadoes (the Clemens brothers played with perfect despicableness by Ernest Borgnine, Jack Elam, and Strother Martin) after they murder her husband. Left naked and for dead in her burning home, Hannie pulls herself out of the burning rubble, straps on a horse blanket, buries her husband and proceeds to try and track down the three evil bastards her ruined her life. Along the way she meets a notorious bounty hunter named Thomas Price (played by the ever excellent Robert Culp), and basically begs him to teach her how to shoot and handle herself so she can get her revenge. The two form an unlikely bond and end up traversing the west equipping Caulder and then tracking down the Clemens brothers.
If you’ve seen Tarantino’s Django: Unchained (or at least the trailers), then you can see the obvious influence Hannie Caulder has on the conceit of the partnership between King Schultz and Django. Granted, it’s far from the same story per-se, but the concept of an unlikely hero (heroine) meeting up with a bounty hunter, and then learning from them to both kill and eventually to get their revenge is strikingly similar. If you’re a Tarantino fan, and specifically if you really enjoyed his most recent flick, I can’t recommend Hannie Caulder enough. The performances by Martin, Elam, Borgnine, Welch, and Culp are fantastic, and being a British production in the 70s, it was no surprise to see Christopher Lee pop up for an equally amazing character part.
So, what hidden influences have you caught in Tarantino’s latest flick?