The Roar of the Tiger

Dialogues with Sergio Sollima - part 2

by Mario 'Nighteagle' Marsili ©

This time Sergio Sollima was excited over the phone.. "When are you coming Mario?". The flood of emails and the success of the first interview had really turned him on. So, carrying my usual equipment I took the bus and stepped down at Viale Parioli. It was like coming home, almost. I remember when I was a kid and all these fantastic westerns looked to me as belonging to a marvellous yet unapproachable world of greatness and freedom. Today the emotions are not lesser when I can hug Sergio, my heart loaded with gratefulness for the countless hours of joy provided to me through his fine art. This time spirits are even higher: I carry the responsibility of doind a decent job, as so many friends from the SWWB, scattered over the world, are waiting for this second interview. My heart pounds.

Knock, knock..... a few seconds later the Maestro opens the door and invites me in with a devilish grin. Good start , I say to myself.

He dedicates the first minutes to write some autographs for a few friends who came late the first time. Then I started torturing him, making clear that I would squeeze his brain cells showing no mercy. I had with me a couple of questions concerning his westerns, even if the second interview was planned for his noir and Sandokan/Black Pirate movies.


MM: Sergio, which of the three characters in Faccia a Faccia do you like most, Siringo, Beauregard or Fletcher?

SS: It is like asking which son you love more, if you have three kids. I like all three of them. Volonte´and Milian play the good and bad guy interchanging role by a subtle but steady osmosis, and as I said in the first interview, they are children of my own personal experience during WWII, when I saw people changing from cowards to heroes and heroes becoming cowards. Siringo, is an intermediate figure, he is intelligent, politically aware, but does not refrain from shooting when necessary. By the way, Siringo is a historical person. He was a Pinkerton agent for real and entered the Wild Bunch trying to disrupt it.

MM: When you and Sergio Donati wrote the screeplay for Faccia... did you already have Milian in mind for the role of Beauregard?

SS: I had worked with Donati before. He was technically very close to my style of writing and imagining a screenplay. However, in Faccia... his contribution was minor compared to other projects. Faccia.. is really my child. Tomas was already in my mind when we started creating Faccia. After Resa... he was my fixed choice, and we always had a very proficient collaboration, in every movie. I knew that Beauregard would be something completely different from Cuchillo, I took the risk. I don´t know today if I did the right thing by changing drastically the character typology. Maybe, continuing the second movie with another Cuchillo story would have been more convenient from a box office point of view. Leone did his dollar trilogy in this sense. But I have never been a successful money maker. I was too much interested in what I wanted to express at that very moment in time. Box office was another story... just consider that Django clearly beat Faccia.. with respect to mere business.

MM: Now we need the solution to the mistery left unsolved the previous time: the screenplay of Una Pistola da Vendere (A Gun for Sale). You showed me the original typewritten screenplay last time.

SS: Yes, but I don´t know where I put it.

MM: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON´T KNOW WHERE YOU PUT IT? GET UP AND SEARCH!! (I got quite mad at that moment, my hand slowly moving towards a Malaysian Kriss knife that was placed as paper weight on the desk)

Sergio looked at me stunned , kind of frozen, knowing that searching the sheer mess of documents in his studio would be like searching for the Holy Graal. Finally , seeing my van Cleef eyes, he slowly stood up and plodded towards a huge array of shelves. The scene was surreal. The random search among the piles of folders, books, and what not, reminded me of a comment made by Eli Wallch: the Italians had chaos reigning on their movie set, but somehow they manufactured masterpieces... Finally the screenplay appears again. I had taken a digital photo during the first interview, so I knew it had to exist. With sparkling eyes Sergio regains his seat, innerly happy that he had barely avoided major troubles . Again, we both grinned.

SS: My best movies, those which deserve an OSCAR (he says it jokingly, of course) are those which I have never realized. That´s is typical of me. The funny thing is that I had written a western script much before Leone had even thought about westernizing Yojimbo. For a certain period of time Leone and me bumped into eachother entering and exiting production offices with our respective screeplays, only to be chased out by refusing producers. We both tried to make a western! The title was set temptatively as Pistola da Vendere, and we had already a pour parler with James Coburn. This happened before the Italowesterns encountered the acceptance that we all know. Today, I deem the story good enough to become a western movie, it could be improved of course, but would not be a typical Spaghetti western. I hate the term Spaghetti western, I can go as far as western all´italiana, which reasonably evokes the Italian wit and operatic story-telling.

MM: In the end the movie was never shot. Why?

SS: After 'Corri Uomo Corri' (1968) it was apparent that a decadence of the western all´italiana had set in. They were no longer credible, and short after they turned into parody. I did not feel the spiritual drive to generate another western in that inflationated environment.

MM: Have you ever submitted the Pistola... screenplay to any important producer?

SS: Certainly, to the producer par excellence, my friend Alberto Grimaldi! But he has made too much money now, and, as a Neapolitan, you know, he sits back and relaxes. He is no longer willing to undergo all the stress. The movie would come out different from the usual Italo-style. I conceived it more tending towards the initial cultural and popular elements of the American western, expressed by Howard Hawks´ work, for example. In fact, I wanted to shoot it in the American South West, not in Almeria. It was more of an epic drama, less a Mediterranean opera. It tells the story of a pistolero, who was kidnapped by the Apaches, grows up among them and ends fighting alongside with them against the invading US Army... just a classic story. Grimaldi liked the story very much, but again, the times were not right any more, and today he does not have the necessary sprint and attitude any longer.

MM: How do you judge today´s Italian producers? You knew those of the golden era, the Pontis, the DeLaurentis, the Grimaldis etc. Has there been a significant change in the way Italian producers generate cinema, or not?

SS: It is directly linked to the current state of the Italian culture, in the broadest sense. You cant´t expect peaks of excellence when the world around you is decaying. That is happening, and has happened in the recent past in Italy. Simply a downward phase in our cultural history. That affects the producers too. There is no more CINEMA in Italy, just a few good films, isolated events and scattered far apart.

(my comment: Delli Colli´s words flashed into my mind at this point!)

SS: Look at other arts Mario, literature for example, we had Nobel winners, we had Moravia, Montale, Sciascia, Eco, and the painters...Gottuso,Purificato, ... who do we have now? Not last to mention in the line of decadence our Premier Minister, the top-clown.

MM: Tonino delli Colli, during my July interview , expressed his sceptical opininion about Italian cinema, saying that it had never existed. How do you interpret this statement?

SS: Well, his was probably an excessively negative judgement, but he is certainly right regarding the actual situation in this country. Maybe he was attempting to say that the Italian cinema never existed as a structured industry as in the USA. Truly, the Italian cinema was Fellini, Rossellini, DeSica, Antonioni, Pasolini and a couple of us making westerns. I mention names, not Studios. This means that the Italian cinema was existing by the existence of single talented artists, not because there was a structure behind them, alla Hollywood , to make it clear. In the US the Studios were the primary powers behind the directors and the Studios decided about the fate of the actors who were kept under contract for long periods of time. Here in Italy things were invented day by day, there were no Studios. Delli Colli probably meant this. The trash politics in Italy contributed substantially to the downfall of the Italian cinema.

MM: We can at this point go on to another subject, and look at your Noir series of films. Let us start with REVOLVER, with Oliver Reed. How was Revolver conceived?

SS: A story was given to me one day. It was a badly written story , but I liked the core of it. It was a kind of modern Faccia a Faccia... two colliding characters, a cop that sees his duty morals as a religion, and a small-timer, a loser. The clash between them thrilled me. In the end, the lawman accepts crime as a solution, he accepts it! Like in many of my movies, the possibility of a personality change has always inspired my creativity. I thought of Oliver Reed, after his performance in Ken Russel´s I Demoni . An anecdote: Reed´s agent forgot to send the screenplay to Oliver, because he was too busy or.. I don´t know. Anyway, when we finally met in Rome, at the Hotel Excelsior Oliver showed his enthusiasm for the coming work with me. In the elevator he told me about a particular scene he was very fond of and started acting it. Due to the narrowness of the location we were in, an elevator, and the renown aggressive tendency of Oliver, I did not dare to reveal him that that particular scene had already been removed from the final draft of the screenplay! At the very beginning, when the script was given to Reed´s agent, the role of the small-time hood was given to Mario Girotti, aka Terence Hill. The mishap with the stupid agent ended in a consistent loss of time, and when we were finally ready and Reed had got his copy and he also was ready to start, Terence Hill was no longer available, being under contract for another movie. So we took Fabio Testi.

MM: How do you remember Oliver Reed?

SS: A talented actor, a man perfectly conscious of his craziness, an alcoholic, who died in a pub. You cannot imagine the amount of alcohol he gulped down daily. Lee van Cleef was a dwarf compared to Oliver. It is unspeakable...I lost the count of beer bottles, whisky shots etc...it is unbelievable. However, on the set he was a perfect professional.

MM: What does it mean when you say that an actor is very professional? Please define it.

SS: A professional actor is such when he does not carry his own, private personal deficiencies into the character he is playing and into the set. Oliver was professional until, say, 3 o´clock in the afternoon. After that the effects of alcohol became apparent. Another anectode. In Paris we organized a dinner party also to make Fabio and Oliver become acquainted. We were in a restaurant at the Champs Elisees, dressed very elegantly. Oliver shows up in a rugby sweater, with a large number in front and back, jeans and cowboy boots. Now, formal dress and tie were mandatory in that particular establishment, and Oliver looked like a nightmare to the French. The reception guy remarked that a tie was necessary to enter, so Oliver asks for one, there were several available at the reception, and puts it on over the rubgy sweater! He looked so funny, we had a great time that evening.

MM: A greater financial success was undoubtedly Violent City... there you had Bronson.

SS: The producers, Papi and Colombo, the producers of Per un Pugno di Dollari, gave me a story. I did not like it at first, but I liked the characters. I worked on it, almost turning it upside down, in close collaboration with Lina Wertmüller.

MM: You placed Umberto Orsini next to a giant like Bronson...

SS: Bronson became a giant later, with time, at that time a much bigger giant was Telly Savalas. I consider him a substantial step over Bronson, in fame and in acting capabilities. Papi and Colombo proposed initially Tony Musante and Florinda Bolkan. But Bronson has that magnificent inexpressive stone face that expresses so much... he does not need to pull faces too much... he acts the way he is and is the way he acts. And then Jill Ireland... what a tragic story. She had breast cancer, fought it, survived, wrote a book about it, but then, years later succumbed. What a strange couple, Jill and Charles. She was a classy English lady, with all that comes with it, and he was a former mining worker. Let me tell you the anecdote that Bronson himself liked to tell, to explain his origins. When he was young, one day he decided to go to a brothel. They told him that it would cost 10 bucks. So he started to save money, dime after dime to reach this damned ten dollars. Once he had gathered this sum, and it took a while, he returned to the brothel, where he was told that the fee had gone up to twelve dollars! So, he could not get in..ha ..ha. Just to say that he had known hunger and misery. But he had this face.. this face, like Lee van Cleef, he also had a FACE! When Cleef says, looking at you "..I don´t want you to do this.." well, then there is no arguing ... you do what he says. Period.

MM: Did you personally do the whole of the casting?

SS: It was done also with the producers, I mean, there was a lot of money involved, Savalas was very expensive, so we engaged him for a short time. Savalas was a fine actor and a very pleasant guy, full of humor and style. Bronson, on the contrary matched his stone face. Always wooden, clumsy often. I remember his clumsiness when having to deal with erotic scenes in Citta´Violenta, he just had not the feel for it... I don´t know, there was a scene when he grabs Jill in a rage, a scene shot by the Mississippi river, but he couldn´t get it right. So, and you are the first to know it, it were my hands which you see in the movie close-ups, not his, that grab the woman´s body. And it was not Jill´s body but that of a double. I can say that a part of me has become an actor..he,he,he! By the way, do you know that I was arrested by the New Orleans Police? Look, I have not been arrested in wartime by the fascists, nor by the nazis, and in peacetime the Highway Patrol locks me up!

MM: How did that happen?

SS: We were shooting on a major bridge over the river, somehow hindering the traffic flow...and we were without a City permit to do that... the ususal things made all´Italiana. So the patrol shows up, shoves me and my cameraman into the car and off we go to Headquarters! I had so much fun... the cameraman was shitting his pants! Look here, what the police gave me as a present after we were released: a pair of beautiful cufflinks with handcuffs on them. At the Police precinct , after two minutes, the situation was cleared and everyone was at ease. During the shooting of Citta´.. another funny thing occured: in a gun shop, that we casually visited to see some pistols, the shop owner told me that he had seen Big Gundown, and was sheerly overwhelmed to have me in his gun store. He offered me a pistol as a present.

MM: Wow, do you still have it?

SS: Have what?

MM: The pistol...

SS: I never had it, I did not take it with me...

MM: WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DID NOT TAKE IT WITH YOU? (here I felt my face turning slowly into an ugly haired werewolf mask, knowing how much I love guns and how much I enjoy shooting them in Arizona, a beautiful gun for me has the same sex appeal as the sexy face of Chelo Alonso)

SS: I MEAN THAT I LEFT IT WHERE IT WAS, CAN YOU UNDERSTAND THAT?

MM: NO, I CANNOT!!! (saliva was dripping from my distorted lips , I wanted to strangle him, and when I reached for the Kriss knife he swiflty pulled a heavy blade Kampilang, reaching out... then we chuckled as usual and regained our English self-control. Sergio loves this acts of passion and plays along with me in a lovely manner)

SS: Regarding popularity, Savalas was far more popular than Bronson. Charles was seldomly recognized on the public streets, not so Telly.

MM: There is a lot of car racing too in Citta...

SS: Yes, we shot some sequences at one Can-Am race in the US, then we shot others, including the car explosion at the Vallelunga racing track in Rome. At the Can-Am I was able to drive a McLaren for two laps, I had a ball! Mixing Can-Am and Vallelunga was a miracle of editing. The scenes that Bronson sees on his hand-TV are the Can-Am race, but when he shoots he is at Vallelunga.

MM: Tell me about the final scene with the glass elevator. That was a strong one.

SS: The glass elevator scene is again a complicated matter. We had Bronson shooting from the roof in New Orleans, the interior of the elevator was Cinecitta, shot with blue-screen, with the background showing San Francisco buildings as seen from a real external moving elevator.

MM: The killing scene in the elevator...

SS: That particular scene was underscored by Ennio with a beautiful piece of music. I convinced him that silence was even more effective, I told you that already. But back to shooting. We had a special effect arranged that would simulate the bullet hole in the elevator glass wall. A tiny glass splinter hit Jill near the eye, and there was panic. Charles got mad, he was not on the set, otherwise he would have killed us all.

MM: How did you interact with Bronson, did you make him repeat the scenes several times?

SS: Not really, we shot at most three times, if a professional actor doesn´t get it by then you better give it up. I did never burden actors with too many instructions, never clogged their mind or so... then they start thinking, and that is dangerous. For example, I never acted the scene for the actor, I never told him .. look at me, do this, do that, Sergio Leone and DeSica used this look-at-me approach a lot, however. But then you may notice that some actors appear as imitating DeSica... and are no longer themselves. There is no single recepy, it also depends on the actor. For example, in 'La Contessa di Hong Kong', with Sofia Loren, Chaplin and Marlon Brando, it is quite apparent that everyone tries to imitate a bit Chaplins clownish style.

MM: Bronson is recognized as a loner and as an unfriendly person...what are your experiences?

SS: Yes, he was a loner, but especially he was kind of cold or even unfriendly with subordinates, like the lower film crew members. I don´t know why. At the same time he did not mess with me too much, he rarely discussed scenes to have them shot in his own way. He tried once, but I readily showed him that it was not the case. He made no problems. I like when actors with tons of experience give me suggestions, I am grateful for all the help I can get, but in the end I alone take the final decision.

MM: Citta Violenta was shot in New Orleans, in a time where the young generations started revolting, the flower people and what more...

SS: Believe it or not, in New Orleans, a magic town for me, I spent several days in a hippy community, sleeping in a hut with such people.

MM: Do you have the screenplay here somewhere? (I expected and got the ususal answer, you guess what it was...)

MM: Sergio, I am interested in the Sandokan period very much. As kids in Italy we all read the stories and adventures of the Tigre della Malesia, the Malaysian Tiger, written by Emilio Salgari. Sandokan was sponsored by RAI, the Italian National Television. This TV movie has found tremendous acceptance in all Europe.

SS: I had Sandokan in mind as a cinema movie before RAI made it for the small screen. I thought of Toshiro Mifune, whom we contacted at the very beginning. But two years later, Tullio Kezich , a famous cinema critic, contacted me on behalf of RAI. H e showed me some scripts and treatments about a Sandokan story, they had contacted a score of Italian directors, including Leone and Tessari. For several reasons things did not proceed. The scripts submitted were horrendous, so far from realistic applicability... well, a disaster. I convinced the RAI people that the script had to be redone from scratch. In those times, RAI was still a healthy environment, with important productions. Remember Pinocchio, with Nino Manfredi, and Leonardo da Vinci with Philippe Leroy and other good productions. The political and social content of a Sandokan movie thrilled me, as it involves the love between an English colonial Lady and a Malaysian pirate! It couldn´t be more explosive than that! This was a brilliant anticipation of modern social developments made by Salgari 100 years ago. Arrigo Romano, the former RAI director that produced the Sandokan TV series, had well understood the importance of the Salgari work, beyond its mere spectacularity due to locations and characters and fights. And we got all support we needed from RAI to shoot a good film. Nobody has noticed, but we shot it in 16mm, not in 35! You see the 16mm Arriflex camera in the river photo here. I worked with Alberto Silvestri on the screenplay, that was okayed soon. Then we took off for locations in India. Note that all scenes in Sandokan have been realized in original locations, no props, no Cinecitta´, nothing. Real jungle, real majestic palaces in India, real tigers. For me it was an extraordinary life experience. The hotel nights were real safari adventures with all kind of insects and rodents and snakes roaming inside your room, or, worse, inside your bed. What was missing was the most important thing: the island Mompracem, the hideout of Sandokan and of his pirates. There was a first disappointment, though: there were too many cultivations in India, fields here and fields there. So we signalled to RAI that we really had to go to Malaysia, into the wild. Elio Scardamaglia, the RAI production manager okayed and we went to Malaysia, to GualaLumpur. We rented a truck and drove through Malaysia. We Italians were , and still are, poor people. For example, in Sri Lanka, during the make of another movie, I noticed an helicopter flying incessantly over my head. They told me it was Steve Spielberg hunting for locations! Ha....we drove in a shabby truck, he used an helicopter. Finally we find a good island for our pourposes. A wonderful island, a few miles off-shore. I wanted to shoot in a neo-realistic way, like DeSica shot Umberto D., all has to be real. We had on our side Nino Novarese, a two Oscars winner, scenography and costumes, he was a powerful support, assisting director was Luciano Sacripante, Carlo Carlini was cameraman. A good, a very good crew. We were based at Guala Tringano, and in the surroundings we had all the wild nature we needed.

MM: What about the actors, the casting!

SS: Damn problem, we had to find someone who resembled the figure of Sandokan that every kid was accustomed to from the covers of Salgari´s books. Sandokan´s face there looks more like an Indian, less like a Malaysian face. Therefore we started combing India again..oh God! Finally, to make it short, an agency sent me photos of an young Indian actor, in Bombay, who had the mentality of an Indian movie person, where they make 6 movies simultaneously. So I met Kabir Bedi, a tall, good-looking man. He was a mixed-blood, father from Kashemere, mother from the south, different races. He came to Rome, we made some tests, he got a beard grown, a good make up and long hair. Fine. Everybody went OHHHHH at the RAI, when they first watched the test clips. Then the battle for the choice of HER, Marianna, the English lady. I had Carol Andre´ in mind. She was just a child when she worked with me in Faccia... She was the daughter of an American gangster, who was assassinated in the course of the making of Sandokan. The battle was fierce. I had to resist the assault of legions of Italian whores, the wannabe starlets of the Italian cinema backstreets, who sleep with the janitor of RAI in the attempt to get a role. Suddenly an ORDER hits me, sent by very high brass, very high: I had been ordered to take a particular girl, a „friend“ of an important personality in Italy (Sergio refused to mention the name of the girl, as a gentleman). I invented a ruse, by summoning a score of starlets, who were all much better acting than her. When the management watched the test clips, with „her“ wearing a ridiculous blond wig, they understood that that choice was untenable. Carol was in again. The role of another leading character in the Sandokan series, the one of the Indian hero Tremal-Naik, was given to a waiter of our hotel in India, believe it or not. He just had the right physique du role. When we shot, years later, the sequel of Sandokan, La Tigre Vive Ancora (The Tiger Lives On), we traced him in Dubai, where he was working as a waiter again! At the beginning ot the shootings, he was kind of rigid, I told him ...look to the right...and he looked to the left. Well, with time he relaxed and did an acceptable job.

MM: But there was another central character, Yanez, splendidly embodied by Philippe Leroy.

SS: He was right, he was true. He was a parachutist in Indochina, he was in real combat. He was also a real aristocrat, originating from an old French noble family, the Leroy de Beaulieu. He believed in his adventurous role because he had himself been involved in such type of life.

MM: Hey, don´t forget Adolfo Celi! The Bond villain!

SS: Uhh, I was forgetting the top of the crop. The historical Governer Brooke, he was a tall handome gay man. I tried to find one such actor, I found him in a German actor who had worked in Cabaret, I don´t remember his name now. We could not establish a link with him, so I turned the whole thing around and decided for an actor with a BAD GUY face, Adolfo Celi. When we walked the streets in Asia, everybody recognized him, Adolfo had achieved international recognition with his Bond film.

MM: You worked with wild animals on the set, how was that accomplished?

SS: The working with tigers was interesting. We had two tigers, coming from an Indian circus. We tried to use a minimal amount of special effects. One was necessary for the following: Sandokan , the Malaysian Tiger, that was his battle name, had to fight with a tiger and slash its abdomen with his dagger. The whole was to be shot in a spectacular way, mid-air with the tiger on an high, arched jump and Sandokan jumping under the tiger from the opposite direction. At first we were scared to have tigers around us, but with time we got accustomed to it and nobody cared . We assembled the scene in the following way: the tiger jumped from one platform to another, over a high arch, first shot with camera far below. We wanted to have Sandokan flying under the tiger´s belly and stab the tiger on the fly. Kabir Bedi was too tall a guy to make this happen. So we went to England, where a specialized company provided a small stuntman, dressed like Sandokan. We shot his jump with blue-screen and merged the two sequences, with a good final result.

MM: How was Kabir Bedi as an actor?

SS: His advantage were his fascinating eyes. Breaking all cinematographic rules, I had him look into the camera several times. He looked into the centre of the lense, normally a forbidden thing. He moved around with marked pomposity, natural to him, not acted, which was very good for our needs.

MM: What about Salvatore Borgese?

SS: He was one of my best stunts. He was also in most of my films. He is a good actor. He also worked in my later TV series, Uomo Contro Uomo, a story about the ´Ndrangheta, the Mafia in Calabria.

MM: Pietro Torrisi?

SS: , also a stunt, necessary and good actor in The Black Pirate, Il Corsaro Nero.

MM: the second Sandokan, La Tigre Vive Ancora, there was a leopard involved..

SS: Sandokan had lost his island in the first movie, so he had become isolated in the jungle. Because of the English tyranny ruling over the former free Malaysian territory, Sandokan is convinced by a girl to resume the patriotic fight of liberation. We needed a sort of effectful introduction of Kabir. We thought obviously to have him appear with a tiger at his side. We were not able to find a tiger and time was short. This second RAI production was not as good as the first one. No tiger...what could we do now? We were in SriLanka, where all was on a smaller scale. So we found a leopard in a local zoo. It is not as regal as a tiger, but better than nothing. The cat instructor told us that it was tame enough to be used for filming, and supplied a very long , strong net of laced thick rope, for coralling the movie set, in order to prevent a possible escape of the leopard from the area. The scene was simple in fact, the cat had to walk besides Kabir and squat at his feet. We decided to make a test, the camera was on the tripod, all seemed to be set, crewmen, actors , all set. Action! Kabir slowly enters the scene with the leopard alonside...suddenly, in the far distance we hear a cow going MOW! Everybody froze. I understood that this was the end, I knew it. The leopard turns his head, shoots off like a rocket and cleanly torpedoes through the rope net as if made of butter, simply ignoring its existence, and disappears. What if it killed the cow or a farmer? Ten minutes later upset locals show up, the cow had been killed. I said to keep working without the cat, even if we heard its growl in the woods for days.

MM: The inside shootings were all done in India or in Cinecitta?

SS: All in India

MM: The Corsaro Nero seems to me to be suffering from inadequate production support, is it true?

SS: Of course, it was Cineriz, which was undergoing bankruptcy while we were making the Corsaro. Cineriz was not the only sinking ship, we found ourselves really , physically sinking in the ocean when the Corsaro Nero galeon hit an underwater obstacle, was ripped open, and went down, with all of us on it (see picture of galeon deck before sinking), the actors, the crew, the taylors, everybody. Everybody was rescued, fortunately. We were forced to change the working schedules on the spot, waiting for another ship to be rebuilt in record time. Corsaro... was not promoted well , so in the end it did not turn out a significant commercial success, as I said, Cineriz was going down.

MM: The Sandokan music score by the De Angelis brothers was brilliant. A tune that you can never forget.

SS: Yes , and the lirics were nice too, written by a certain Sergio Sollima. It is funny, but still today I sometimes get a check for my author rights of about 30 Euros, but back then I made more money with the song royalties than with my director´s fee.

MM: Why was Sandokan not sold to US TVs?

SS: Because the RAI was changing, and those who came next hated those who were there before and sabotaged everything. Incompetence and neglect were the reason why Sandokan and Corsaro were never brought to the American viewers. The worst enemies of the Italians are the Italians.

With this encouraging last statement we closed the second interview. I shot a little mpeg clip where Sergio thanks all the friends who have sent him emails. We talked about the 2004 Almeria reunion, where he wants to participate health permitting. It was time to go for me and we hugged for a farewell. I had an idea, as I was walking back to the bus stop. If Sergio comes to Almeria, we will make a movie, all together with the attending SWWB members, he will be an actor and I will be director. I stepped into the bus with a smile.

Nighteagle

<back>