The Mondo Esoterica Guide to:

Franco Nero

  About Franco Nero:

Born Francesco Sparanero in Italy, 1941, Franco Nero became an actor only by accident when doing a two year national service with future Oscar winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now - 1979). But he left acting school in disgust at their methods and managed to get somes small roles in several now forgotten Italian films.

Everything changed in late 1965 when Nero was cast in the titular role of Sergio Corbucci's Django (1966), a dark and gritty film that was to define a decade of Spaghetti Westerns and would stick with Nero for the rest of his career, in quick sucession he starred in Lucio Fulci's Massacre Time (1966) and Ferdinando Baldi's Texas Addio (1966). That same year also saw Franco Nero noticed by Hollywood, and while on still photography duties on the Italian lensed John Huston film The Bible (1966), Nero was hired to play the role of Able, opposite Richard Harris' Cain, and was soon followed by the key role of Lancelot in the lavish musical Camelot (1967), where he met his future partner Vanessa Redgrave. However, with the boom of the Italian film industry at the time, Nero was irresistably drawn back to Europe and went on to appear in over 35 films in just 8 years, with lead roles in productions by some of the best directors of the period. Sergio Corbucci, who brought him to fame, cast him in Spaghetti Westerns The Mercenary (1968) and Companeros (1970), Lucio Fulci cast him in a rare family-friendly film White Fang (1973) and the sequel, while infamous left wing director Damiano Damiani cast Nero in the political thrillers How to Kill a Judge (1974) and Confessions of a Police Captain (1971), but it was Enzo G. Castellari who proved the biggest Nero fan, giving him lead roles in 7 productions, including the action thriller Street Law (1973) and last-gasp Spaghetti Western Keoma (1976).

After the reduction of Italian cult-cinema in the late 1970s, Nero continued to work strong, appearing in a wide range of titles including World War 2 actioner Force 10 from Navarone (1978), political thriller The Salamander (1981) and in his most well known role, playing Gen. Ramon Esperanza in Die Hard 2 (1990). He later teamed up again with Enzo G. Castellari to film a tribute to the euro-westerns - Jonathan degli orsi (1993). In between recording interviews for DVD companies, he has continued to work in Italian film and television with roles in a very wide range of productions, many with a historical theme, such as Crusaders (2001 mini-series) and The Uncrowned Heart (2003 - TV).

With over 150 films to his credit, Franco Nero is one of the big names in classic Euro-cult cinema, although like many actors from the period, he is likely to be best remembered for his one big Hollywood role, that of Die Hard 2.

   DVD Reviews: Films starring Franco Nero

Companeros (1970)
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
Nero in the joint lead role in a fun, action western with a strong plot, solid cast and production values.
Highly recommended for fans and newcomers alike.
Django (1966)            
USA Blue Underground Region 0 DVD
Nero gets his first lead role, introducing a legendary and influencial anti-hero to the genre in this strong film.
Highly recommended for fans and newcomers alike.
Keoma (1976)
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
Nero gives a standard performance in this well directed late Western, let down by an unoriginal, cliché storyline.
Of interest to fans, but not recommended for newcomers.
Massacre Time (1966)
Eagle Pictures Italy Region 2 DVD
A rather cliché script, but some surprising brutality in this early Lucio Fulci film, with a good performance from Franco Nero.
Partly recommended, for genre fans.
Texas, Adios (1966)
Anchor Bay USA Region 0 DVD
A very poor script but watchable and passably entertaining, mostly thanks to a Nero lead role and some big gunfights.
Of interest to fans only.


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All text in this site written by Timothy Young - January 2006.
Text from this site not to be used without authorization.

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