A bounty of “Django Unchained” material was unveiled last night. Not only did a new trailer arrive, but the soundtrack details for the movie debuted as well. And as folks already know, Quentin Tarantino isn’t shy about referencing his influences, and his films tend to be gateways to discover all kinds of genre fare. And indeed, the soundtrack lifts music from a number of films, so we thought it might be fun to provide a quick guide to the pictures Tarantino borrowed from for “Django Unchained.” So let’s get to it…
“Django” (dir. Sergio Corbucci, 1966)
The Songs: “Django (Main Theme)” – Luis Bacalov
What You Need To Know: Well, you probably already know this movie inspired the title for Tarantino’s film and likely the tone as well. It’s one of the most successful and best known spaghetti western franchises of all time, spawning dozens and dozens of unofficial sequels. The star of the film, Franco Nero, makes a cameo appearance in “Django Unchained” and is seen in the trailers as the guy Jamie Foxx spells out his name to.
“Two Mules For Sister Sara” (dir. Don Siegel, 1970)
The Songs: “The Braying Mule” and “Sister Sara’s Theme” – Ennio Morricone
What You Need To Know: The second of five collaborations between Clint Eastwood and Don Siegel, the film was based on a story penned by famed western director Budd Boetticher, co-stars Shirley Maclaine, and tells the story of a drifter who escorts an unconventional nun on the run from French revolutionaries.
“His Name Was King” (dir. Giancarlo Romatelli, 1971)
The Songs: “Lo Chiamavano King” – Luis Bacalov, Edda Dell’Orso
What You Need To Know: This spaghetti western stars none other than Klaus Kinski, as a bounty hunter tracking gunrunners over the border into Mexico. But gamers might be familiar with this tune as it’s also featured in “Red Dead Revolver.”
“The Last American Hero” (dir. Lamont Johnson, 1973)
The Songs: “I Got A Name” – Jim Croce
What You Need To Know: Singer-songwriter Jim Croce died just before the release of this song, which became a hit single, and the theme to the Jeff Bridges-starring film. Based on a short story by Tom Wolfe, it loosely surrounds the early days of NASCAR driver Junior Johnson. The picture was named among the ten best of that year by the National Board Of Review.
“Under Fire” (dir. Roger Spottiswoode, 1981)
The Songs: “Nicarauga” – Jerry Goldsmith featuring Pat Metheny
What You Need To Know: Of all the movies here, this might be the odd man out of the bunch. The early ’80s war journalist drama is mostly forgotten now, but it was well received at the time, and Jerry Goldsmith’s score earned an Academy Award nomination. It was Spottiswoode’s third feature, and he would go on to direct the Bond flick “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Air America” and “Turner & Hooch” among others.
“Hellbenders” (dir. Sergio Corbucci, 1967)
The Songs: “Un Monumento” – Ennio Morricone
What You Need to Know: It’s another Corbucci movie, whom Tarantino is clearly a fan of, and this time it has the unlikely lead of Joseph Cotten, playing an ex-Confederate solider hellbent on reviving the Confederacy, using stolen Union money.
“Hell Up In Harlem” (dir. Larry Cohen, 1973)
The Songs: “The Payback” – James Brown
What You Need To Know: Alright, we’re cheating a bit here, but this song — prominently featured in the trailers for “Django Unchained” — was originally written for this blaxploitation classic. But it was actually rejected for not being “funky enough” (seriously) so James Brown released it on his own, and it became one of the seminal songs of his catalog, sampled and used in almost every medium imaginable.
“They Call Me Trinity” (dir. Enzo Barboni, 1970)
The Songs: “Trinity (Titoli)” – Annabale I Cantori Moderni
What You Need To Know: Terrence Hill and Bud Spencer might not be names as big as Clint Eastwood or Lee Van Cleef, but the pair mixed it up in over a dozen spaghetti westerns that did very well. But none were bigger than their duo of ‘Trinity’ films: “They Call Me Trinity” and “Trinity Is Still My Name.”
“Day Of Anger” (dir. Tonino Valerii, 1967)
The Songs: “I Giorni Dell’Ira” –Riz Ortolani
What You Need To Know: First off, savvy fans will know that this is a repeat for Tarantino, as the tune also appeared on “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” As for the movie, it may be the most important in regard to ‘Django,’ as the story follows a gunslinger who mentors a mild-mannered citizen of a small town, but then finds his protege has become a threat.