Gian Maria Volonte

First attracting the attention of international audiences via his appearances in Sergio Leone westerns, Gian-Maria Volonté was undoubtedly one of the finest actors of his generation. With this season we showcase six of Volonté finest performances.

A Bullet for the General

Damiano Damiani | Italy | 1966 | 135 minutes

Considered by its director to be a political film rather than a western, this critique of US imperialism sees Volonte’s Mexican bandit Chuncho gradually become politically aware as a result of his manipulation by a US secret agent — a role played by Lou Castel, ironically another committed left-wing actor.

Bandits in Milan

Carlo Lizzani | Italy | 1968 | 98 minutes

Volonté plays the flamboyant, egomaniac leader of a gang of bank robbers in this gripping true-crime thriller, Tomas Milian the cop determined to bring them to justice.

We Still Kill the Old Way / A ciascuno il suo / To Each His Own

Elio Petri | Italy | 1968 | 99 minutes

Volonte plays a leftist professor seeking the truth about two men killed during a hunting party, against the opposition of the Mafia, Church and politicians. Adapted from the novel by Leonardo Sciascia.

Sacco and Vanzetti

Giuliano Montaldo | Italy | 1971 | 121 minutes

Volonte stars alongside Riccardo Cucciolla, who won best actor at Cannes, in this powerful examination of the Sacco-Vanzetti case, in which two Italian-born US-emigrant anarchists were tried, convicted, and sentenced to death on somewhat dubious evidence. Ennio Morricone and Joan Baez collaborate on the soundtrack.

Operation Ogre / Ogro

Gillo Pontecorvo | Spain / France / Italy | 1979 | 115 minutes

1973: The ageing Franco is in search of a successor to continue his regime and its policies of repression against political opponents, trades unions, and Basque separatists. Carrero Blanco is Franco’s choice. Basque separatists, led by Volonte’s character, plan an audacious assassination of the heir-to-be.

Open Doors / Porte Aperte

Gianni Amelio | Italy | 1990 | 108 minutes

Palermo, 1937: a clerk commits and confesses to three murders. He anticipates, unsurprisingly, that trial and execution will quickly ensue. Instead Volonte’s judge, who is opposed to capital punishment, mounts a defence: the murders were crimes of passion.

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