The Django Unchained Primer

It will come as no surprise for us to say that we can’t wait to see Quentin Tarantino‘s latest film Django Unchained when it hits theaters next December. In the meantime we’ve decided to put together a special list of films that we think will get Tarantino geeks in the right frame of mind for what they’ll be seeing when Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz ride across the silver screen. Quentin’s stylish ouvre has always been influenced by the many films he loves (from the critically acclaimed mainstream classics to the more obscure indie-arthouse films to the rebellious, edgy grindhouse genre pictures). With Django Unchained he’ll be venturing into an entirely new territory we haven’t seen him in before, re-creating the atmosphere of the American South of the 1800s, more specifically the slavery era.

The following handpicked guide contains some of the genre films we think (after reading the script) have influenced Django Unchained. Some of the films are directly referenced while others are more educated guesses on our part. We highly recommend seeking out these titles and familiarizing yourself with them just to get an idea of where Quentin is coming from. We also hope you enjoy them on their own as classic films!

For A Few Dollars More

FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965, Dir: Sergio Leone) – In the Old Southwest, two bounty killers (Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) who begin as competitors decide to put their differences aside and team up to go after a wanted bandito (Gian Maria Volonte) to rob a cache of money he and his cohorts have stolen from an El Paso bank, as well as collect the ransom for him. An example of spaghetti westerns at their best. Also one of our favorites here at FC. – Get from –  Visit the SWDB pageWATCH TRAILER


DJANGO (1966, Dir: Sergio Corbucci) – A mysterious Union soldier named Django (Franco Nero) travels on foot, dragging a coffin behind him as he makes his way through the Southwest. After saving a damsel in distress from a gang of hooded thugs who he swiftly fills full of bullets, Django and the woman arrive in a desolate town. While there where he sets up two local rival factions against each other for his own ends. This was in effect Corbucci’s (aka “the other Sergio”) answer to his friend Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars which had been a big hit with movie audiences. It went on to be a classic in its own right and even inspired many unrelated spinoffs all of which used the Django name in their title. Quentin Tarantino‘s own Django Unchained is inspired by this detail. – Get from Amazon.comVisit SWDB Page WATCH TRAILER

Death Rides A Horse

DEATH RIDES A HORSE (1967, Dir: Guilio Petroni) – After training for many years to be a superb gunfighter, Bill (John Philip Law) sets out to get revenge on the men who massacred his family when he was a child. Meanwhile, a convict named Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) has been released from prison and is out to get the same gang of outlaws for his own reasons. The two men meet and form an alliance not knowing that they share a common connection in their past. – Get DVD from Amazon.comVisit SWDB PageWATCH TRAILER

Day of Anger

DAY OF ANGER (1967, Dir: Tonino Valerii) – In the small town of Clifton, Arizona a poor stableboy named Scott (Giuliano Gemma) is looked down on by everyone and treated like dirt. That is until a stranger named Frank Talby (Lee Van Cleef) rides into town one day and teaches him how to be a tough basterd and ace gunfighter. When Scott and Talby later take over law and order in Clifton things look bright on the horizon that is until the two end up becoming adversaries and find themselves in a duel to the death! – Visit SWDB Page WATCH TRAILER

The Great Silence

THE GREAT SILENCE (1968, Dir: Sergio Corbucci) – One of Quentin’s favorite spaghetti westerns (and ours too) which stands apart from the rest mainly for two reasons: The snow covered, mountain setting of Utah (rather than the standard Old West terrain) and its main character known as Silence (Jean Louis Trintignant) a mute that speaks only with his gun. The story focuses on the town of Snowhill where residents are forced to steal food and provisions due to the harsh weather conditions. The hired bounty hunters are the cold blooded villains out to collect money at any price. They also use the town as their haven since the residents are considered criminals. In the middle stands Silence, a renegade who is on a personal vendetta against the bounty killers. Along with the frigid atmosphere, this movie was another unique re-interpretation of the typical spaghetti western by Corbucci with its socio-political and underlying religious themes. Django Unchained will feature some scenes that are inspired by this Euro-Western classic. Co-starring Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff and Luigi Pistilli. Visit SWDB PageWATCH TRAILER

Hannie Caulder

HANNIE CAULDER (1970, Dir: Burt Kennedy) One of the earliest rape-revenge genre movies that’s also a Western classic. Raquel Welch plays Hannie, a woman whose life is drastically altered after her husband is murdered and she is sexually assaulted then left for dead by a trio of low life bandits (Jack Elam, Strother Martin, Ernest Borgnine). With only a seething desire for revenge, Hannie decides to go after them by herself. Thomas Price (Robert Culp) a bounty hunter who finds Hannie tries to change her mind about her plan but can’t due to her fierce determination. Price figues if he can’t stop her, he’ll help teach her how to become deadly with a pistol. He even brings her to a custom gunmaker (Christopher Lee) who creates a special weapon for her. The teacher/student aspect between Hannie and Price mirrors the relationship between Dr. King Schultz and Django. WATCH TRAILER

Skin Game

SKIN GAME (1971, Dir: Paul Bogart) – Maverick star James Garner plays a grifter named Quincy Drew who teams up with an educated black man Jason O’Rourke (Louis Gossett Jr) to pull flim flams in the Old South. Their scheme recalls something similar that was done in The Good The Bad and The Ugly. Drew poses as a slaver who is trying to sell O’Rourke to the highest bidder. When he finally sells him off, O’Rourke then escapes and they split the cash. They continue this ruse while moving from town to town, but things go bad when one of their marks is more intelligent than they expected. WATCH TRAILER

Goodbye Uncle Tom

GOODBYE UNCLE TOM (1971, Dir: Gualtiero Jacopetti, Franco Prosperi) – If one film ever literally showed what hell on earth would look/feel like, this super mondo extravaganza would be that film. It is an extreme shockumentary about slavery in the 1800s, shot with a feverishly perverse eye. A cinematic Dante’s Inferno that moves from one stage of slavery to another, showing the actual transport ships to the lives of house slaves that the owners raped and had children with. Not for the squeamish! Visit GCDB PageWATCH TRAILER

Legend of Nigger Charley

LEGEND OF NIGGER CHARLEY (1972, Dir: Martin Goldman) – A slave/blacksmith named Charley (Fred Williamson) is going to be given his freedom by his master who is near death. When one of the main overseers on the plantation, Houston (John P Ryan) decides to keep him instead, Charley kills the man after which he and his fellow slaves escape and are soon being tracked by a bounty hunter. They get in more adventures as they make their way across the South. It’s pretty amazing to think that Fred Williamson pitched this film about a black slave turned hero to a big studio and actually got the film made. The final result was a bit underwhelming but it’s still a landmark film for the African-American community. Followed by a sequel: The Soul of Nigger Charley. – Visit GCDB PageWATCH TRAILER

Buck and The Preacher

BUCK AND THE PREACHER (1972, Dir: Sidney Poitier) – In this post Civil War adventure tale, Buck (Sidney Poitier) a wagon master and an unsavory Preacher (Harry Belafonte) try to help bring some ex-slaves to free homesteads in the West. On the trail the two must become partners when their lives are threatened by some white cowboys out to stop them. While Buck is an honorable man, The Preacher is a shady schemer which is what creates the conflict from within as they must also contend with outside forces. This was Sidney Poitier’s directorial debut and it turned out to be an entertaining Western classic. Co-starring Cameron Mitchell, Ruby Dee, Denny Miller. – WATCH TRAILER

Charley One-Eye

CHARLEY ONE-EYE (1973, Dir: Don Chaffey) – An Indian (Roy Thinnes) and a Black Soldier (Richard Roundtree) meet on the road and become fast friends. The two plan to start a new life on a small farm where they’ll finally have peace. Soon their new joint venture is threatened by their racist neighbors and all hell breaks loose. Co-starring Nigel Davenport. – Visit GCDB PageVisit SWDB PageWATCH CLIP

Thomasine and Bushrod

THOMASINE & BUSHROD (1974, Dir: Gordon Parks Jr) – A post slavery crime film influenced by Bonnie & Clyde (1967) in which a black couple Thomasine (Vonetta McGee) and Bushrod (Max Julien) turned outlaws travel around the South during the early 1900s, robbing from the rich whites and giving to the poor minorities. Julien (The Mack) and McGee (Detroit 9000) have great chemistry and are alot of fun to watch here. – Visit GCDB Page

Boss Nigger

BOSS NIGGER (1975, Dir: Jack Arnold) – Two black bounty hunters, Boss (Fred Williamson) and his partner Amos (D’urville Martin) round up outlaws in the Southwest sometime in the late 1800s. While on the trail they come across some men trying to rape a young black woman named Clara Mae (Carmen Hayworth). Boss and Amos shoot them and bring Clara Mae to the town of San Miguel where they expect to see rewards for the criminals they’ve killed. When they arrive they face the understandable racism and corruption towards them along with the Mexican peasants who the town really belongs to. They try to set things right but are thwarted by a cowboy (William Smith) who is hired to get rid of them. This film was the first to have black bounty hunter heroes. – Visit GCDB PageWATCH TRAILER


MANDINGO (1975, Dir: Richard Fleischer) On the southern plantation of Falconhurst, a land owner Warren Maxwell (James Mason) and his son Hammond (Perry King) train a slave called Mede (Ken Norton) as a Mandingo fighter. Meanwhile, Hammond dismisses his wife Blanche (Susan George) on their wedding night after discovering she’s not a virgin. Hammond then begins a love affair with his house slave Ellen (Brenda Sykes) while Blanche in turn seduces Mede. The film is an especially well made depiction of life in the slavery period with alot of sexually explicit scenes. Mandingo ended up being a very successful big budget exploitation film. Visit GCDB PageWATCH TRAILER


DRUM (1976, Dir: Steve Carver) – In this semi-sequel to Mandingo, Warren Oates replaces Perry King as plantation owner Hammond Maxwell. A new slave character (this time called “Drum”) played by Mandingo star Ken Norton is sold to another well to do slaver (John Colicos) to be a fighter for special boxing matches. The film contains similar subject matter seen in the previous film such as interracial couples and descension within the white owned slave community. It’s also a bit more humorous in the over the top exploitation fashion. Co-starring Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto and Rainbeaux Smith. Visit GCDB PageWATCH TRAILER


ROOTS (TV, 1977 Dir: Marvin J. Chomsky) – The award winning TV miniseries based on the book by Alex Haley tells the multi-generational story of Kunta Kinte (Haley’s ancestor), beginning from his origin in Africa up to his capture and life as a slave in the American South. One of the first realistic portrayals of the slavery era made for popular culture. A must see! Starring John Amos, LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, Louis Gossset Jr, Ben Vereen, Lorne Greene, Cicely Tyson, Ralph Waite, Ed Asner. – WATCH CLIP

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Editor-In-Chief of The Grindhouse Cinema Database and Furious Cinema. Pete is an avid movie geek who enjoys everything from wild n' crazy exploitation and cult films to popular mainstream classics.

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25 Responses

  1. J Krall says:

    Tarantino and Spaghetti Western fans might be into this, my bizarro Spaghetti Western novel

    It was reviewed by the Spaghetti Western Database here…

  2. Can’t wait for this film to come out. Tarantino always gets it right. And knowing how he loves spaghetti westerns, I can’t help but expect the epic-est movie of the year.

  3. StuckonGlue says:

    Always gets it right?  I’m a fan definitely, but Four Rooms?  Death Proof?  Shitty dialogue and editing and acting in Inglourious Basterds?  His notoriously bad acting?  His last really great film is Kill Bill.  He’s guilty of boring me on several occasions on his last two, something he’s not known for, like him or not.  

    • RocketRaccoon says:

      I would argue that Death Proof was at least fun at times. And his segment in Four Rooms was the best but that’s basically a case of being the tallest dwarf. I agree with Kill Bill being his last great movie and perhaps his best movie to date. This new one has some potential just because he seems to be drifting out of his wheelhouse, although that didn’t work out to well for him with Inglourious Basterds, not in my eyes anyway. ‘
      Tarantino always gets it right’ seems to be a case of his fans looking at the work with rose coloured glasses. 

      • I loved Death Proof.

      • Mynuts68 says:

        I agree that death proof was fun at times.i think he really missed a golden opportunity to capitalize on an original idea with that ultimately flawed film.instead of all that senseless babbling from his actors, he should have been building on the horror flick theme he chose.inglorious basterds was good until the third act.

    • Fred says:

      ‘Shitty’ dialogue that still ended up getting nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay?  ‘Shitty’ editing that got numerous accolades for a brilliant woman (who is no longer with us, so maybe show some respect?).

      Who cares about his acting?  He’s not an actor and he seems to have gotten out of the habit besides showing up to have fun once in a while in one of his films.

      Inglourious hasn’t aged as well as Pulp Fiction but it deserves all the respect, and box office, it got.  You know you’re going to see Django and you just wanted to pick a fight, so get over yourself.

    • Dean says:

      Death Proof is a masterpiece, one of his best.

  4. Shawn says:

    Tarantino himself selected Passion Plantation to be shown at the New Bev earlier this year.

  5. Mynuts68 says:

    tarantino has put out some good films, none I would call great.he has directed many scenes I would call the scene between robert forster and samuel l jackson outside max cherry’s office in the third act of jackie brown.the scene leading up to the shootout in the tavern from inglorious basterds was stellar.the man’s films are too derivative and pretentious for their own good.tarantino gets all the hype, while MUCH better directors, like fincher,nolan and soderberg put out truly great films.i loathe jamie foxx,but,i will see django unchained.

    • I guess it’s more a question of opinion than anything else. I love all of his movies and feel he always makes them with passion. His passion for cinema is undeniable and it’s present in all of his movies. Some of you may disagree with they being all great works of art, but that’s really what I feel, and that’s surely what I expect from Django Unchained.
      Are they all perfect? No, but I still enjoy them very much.

      • mm Peter says:

        also when youre writing/directing original material like QT does it makes you stand apart from most filmmakers who mostly do adaptations/remakes etc. They are ALL (not counting Jackie) from his mind which makes it much more unique. When you watch a QT film you know its his. Whether or not you like his kind of cinema, you cant deny he’s a true auteur and an ambitious artist as well. Django U sounds like it will be one of his best stories.

  6. Vejnovich says:

    When you say “next December,” you don’t really mean 12/2013, do you? Can’t really be anywhere near that long, can it?

  7. Grandpa Bunche says:

    One minor correction: In Drum, the title character is not related to Mede from Mandingo. He’s the son of Tamboura, an enslaved African king who is sold to a French madame at a New Orleans whorehouse. Drum is the result of their forbidden romance and he is eventually sold to Hammond Maxwell, the protagonist of Mandingo, and groomed for pretty much the same fighting slave role occupied by Mede in the first film. The confusion over this is probably not helped by Mede and Drum both having been played by Ken Norton.

  8. I think Hannie Caulder should be on this list. Not a black western, but the Christoph Waltz character in Django Unchained definitely seems to be channeling some of Robert Culp’s Thomas Luther Price.

  9. H bomb says:

    alex haley wrote roots…who is arthur haley?

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