The Mondo-Esoterica Guide to

Ferdinando Baldi



Biography

Born in Italy in 1927, Ferdinando Baldi made his moves into cinema in the 1950s with a series of now forgotten films, including the musical comedy Assi alla Ribalta (1954). His big breaks came as the co-director of historical epics David e Golia (1960) starring the infamous Hollywood actor/director Orson Welles as King Saul and I, Tartari (1961) which again starred Welles as well as Victor Mature. Baldi would go on to direct a series of Italian adventure films, including El Cid inspired Sfida al re di Castiglia (1963) and several Peplum titles including Son of Cleopatra (1964) starring American actor Mark Damon.

In 1966 Baldi helmed two back-to-back Pepla starring Cameron Mitchall - In the Shadow of the Eagles (1966) and Massacre in the Black Forest (1967) - but they were among the very last entries to a genre that was becoming oversaturated with daft, comic titles. He went on in the same year therefore to work in two of the newly popular genres, the Eurospy film Suicide Mission to Singapore (1966) and the Spaghetti Western Texas Addio (1966) starring a young Franco Nero. While the James Bond inspired Eurospy films proved a short lived boom, the Italian Western was to continue for over a decade and in which Baldi would quickly become a familiar face.

Little Rita Nel West (1967) was his next project - a unique Spaghetti Western musical envisaged as a vehicle for the newly popular Italian singer Rita Pavone, it more importantly marked the Spaghetti Western debut of actor Terence Hill who would go on to be a genre mainstay. The next year's Preparati la Bara! (1968) was a response (and semi-sequel) to Sergio Corbucci's classic Django (1966) and would be the Baldi's most 'conventional' genre entry with Terence Hill in one of his few completely straight faced roles. He continued in the genre with Odia il prossimo tuo (1968) and Il Pistolero dell'Ave Maria (1969) - distinctively plot focused Westerns made more unusual by the addition of gladiatoral combat and Greek tragedy overtones respectively.

Baldi's unique genre takes nonewithstanding, by the beginning of the 1970s, the Spaghetti Western was in decline and quanity was far outweighing quality, however Baldi still managed to make something completely different - Blindman (1971). Inspired by the Japanese Zat˘ichi blind swordsman films, it was the first of some very unusual films that Baldi shot with the American actor Tony Anthony. After dabbling into euro-crime with the generic Sicilian Connection (1972), Baldi returned to the struggling Westerns with a duo of comedy titles, Carambola (1974) and Carambola, filotto... tutti in buca (1974) that unlike his creative earlier work were shameless rip-offs of the popular Bud Spencer/Terence Hill films.

Something rather more original was the simply bizarre Get Mean (1976), starring Tony Anthony, that saw his 'stranger' character fighting Vikings and supernatural adversities in the Old West. A couple more generic dips into popular exploitation genres came with his giallo title Nove Ospiti per un Delitto (1977) and the 'Last House on the Left' inspired La Ragazza del Vagone Letto (1979). Come the 1980s Baldi reunited with Tony Anthony for a duo of suitably daft 3D adventure films, the post-Spaghetti Western Comin' at Ya! (1981) and Indiana Jones style adventure Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983). His final three productions were a trio of war films, the only memorable title being Mission Finale (1988) - uniquely being funded by and filmed in North Korea. After retiring from the film business he largely avoided the cult popularity that surrounded many of the better known Euro-cult directors as their work became available on video and DVD, aside from giving a couple of interviews he remained very private for the rest of his life and died in November 2007.



DVD Reviews: Films directed by Ferdinando Baldi

Blindman (1971)

Koch Media German Region 2 DVD
Ferdinado Baldi's Spaghetti Western tribute to the Japanese Blind Swordsman films is well filmed if a little slow paced.
Recommended to genre fans wanting something different....
Gunman of Ave Maria (1969)

Marketing Film Germany Region 0 DVD
A well written story that takes the normal patricidal revenge up a notch. Well directed with a trademark firey climax.
Recommended to fans of the plot based Spaghetti-Western.
Hate Thy Neighbor (1968)

Wild East US R0 DVD
Frank plays the white suited villain in this erudite story-line based Spaghetti Western from Ferdinando Baldi.
Of interest to genre fans.
Little Rita Nel West (1967)

Alan Young Italian Region 2 DVD
A unique and very entertaining Spaghetti Western parody musical featuring Terence Hill's genre debut.
Recommended to genre fans.
Preparati La Bara (1968)

German E-M-S Region 2 DVD
Surprisingly original and good looking Django follow-up film, with some impressive set-pieces
Recommended to fans and newcomers alike.
Son of Cleopatra (1964)

Retromedia USA Region 0 DVD
Baldi begins his love of storyline based films here in this well written but largely action-free Peplum.
Of interest to genre fans.
Texas Addio (1966)

Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
A rather poor script but a watchable and suitably entertaining film, mostly thanks to Franco Nero and some big gunfights.
Of interest to genre and Nero fans only.


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All text in this page written by Timothy Young - March 2007 - February 2011.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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