On my favourite podcast, http://bmoviecast.com, I just heard that Grindhouse has released a deluxe, extra-laden disc of the The Big Gundown, one of the greatest films that Lee Van Cleef ever starred in. What better time for me to display my recent Van Cleef ceramic sculpture (with hat it becomes a kind of jar.)
Whether Lee Van Cleef remains in our memory as the stoic bounty hunter in the Leone westerns, or the more surprisingly faceted gunman in Sollima's Big Gundown, we must concur-- the actor had a face made for the spaghetti western genre. Or maybe it's the other way around…perhaps the genre was made by his face!
His hawk nose embodied a hunter. His steely squint…pity the prey on the receiving end! He was a sculpture in flesh and bone, topped off with sweat beads.
Yet, unlike certain actors, who are at best when silent, the guy could act with words. They matched his looks, sometimes wry, sometimes reptilian. He could handle horses too, important for a western actor.
His presence is indelible, making him one of those actors who hasn't seemed to have died so long ago. But he has been gone nearly a quarter century, dying in 1989.