Tuesday, July 5, 2016

In memoriam: Carlo Pedersoli, a.k.a. Bud Spencer

I'm sure many of my readers, like me, remember Bud Spencer's gruff, grumpy and very physical not-so-gentle-giant presence in many so-called 'spaghetti western' movies in the 1970's and 1980's.  I was sad to learn that he died recently.

Bud Spencer, who has died aged 86, was a burly Italian Olympic swimmer turned actor who was best known for his partnership with Terence Hill in spaghetti westerns; they were sometimes called the Laurel and Hardy of the Italian west.

When the genre was born in the early 1960s, some Italian actors assumed American-sounding names  to compete with bona fide Yanks such as Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. They included Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti), Montgomery Wood (born Giuliano Gemma), and Spencer, who was born Carlo Pedersoli in Naples and chose his name as a tribute to his favourite beer, Budweiser, as well as to Spencer Tracy.

Spencer, who in 1950 had become the first Italian to swim the 100-metre freestyle in under one minute, shot to international fame in the 1970s as Terence Hill’s bulky sidekick in the Trinity series of comic spaghetti westerns. The first in the series, They Call Me Trinity (1970, directed by Enzo Barboni), was framed around a traditional story of two men coming to the aid of the defenceless (in this case Mormon settlers) against a rapacious cattle baron. But its protagonists, the slovenly Trinity (Hill) and his lumpish “little” brother Bambino (Spencer), are the antithesis of all-American western heroes.

The film had some good jokes , but it would not have been such a success without a series of elaborate large-scale fistfights. It was said that virtually every Italian stuntman available took part in the film. They Call Me Trinity became Italy’s top grossing title, a record beaten the following year by Trinity Is Still My Name. Hill and Spencer would pair up in more than a dozen more films and several of the pair’s earlier westerns were rereleased to take advantage of their popularity, with Boot Hill (1969, directed by Giuseppe Colizzi) renamed as Trinity Rides Again.

There's more at the link.

Here's a sample 'slap fight' from the film that made Spencer, and Terence Hill, famous:  They Call Me Trinity.

Spencer was never a great actor, but he parlayed his typecast portrayals into a long series of slapstick comedies.  I remember watching several of them as a teenager, and laughing along with the rest of the audience.  They were a source of fun at a time when there wasn't much else that was fun in southern Africa, and for that I'm grateful.

May he rest in peace.



m4 said...


Shell said...

My parents were movie fans who met while they both worked at a drive-in theater. Among many classics they took me and my sister to see when we were kids were "They Call Me Trinity" and "Trinity Is Still My Name". Those are still two of my favorites. RIP Bud. Thanks for the laughs.

Miguel GFZ said...

The Bud Spencer Fighting Style:
Slapping with a fist (It works)
Tossing somebody against a hard object works.
Never start a fight, but make sure you finish them.

Gonna miss the big oaf.

Mike said...

I loved the Trinity movies. They were great send-ups of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns. And Shell, I also saw both at the local drive-in -- the BEST way to watch a good movie!

Old NFO said...

Yep, good drive in fodder! :-) And I didn't know he was Italian... May he RIP!

Jim said...

One of Spencer's earliest roles was as a Praetorian Guard in Quo Vadis.


HeroHog said...

The "Trinity" movies with Spencer's "Bambino" character were always favorites of ours! Great stuff! You owe it to yourself to check them all out...

Anonymous said...

My favorite Spencer and Hill movie is one that I can't remember the title of. In it Bud and Terrance play bush pilots. Of course the "Trinity" movies were great fun. Mr. Spencer may not have been considered a great actor but he sure was a lot of fun to watch and he a Mr. Hill were one of those perfect team ups that fit right in with Abbot & Costello, Martin & Louis and Crosby & Hope.

Rest In Peace Mr. Spencer and thank you for all the fun.