Tony Anthony (actor)
October 16, 1937
Clarksburg, West Virginia, U.S.
|Other names||Tony Pettito|
|Alma mater||Carnegie Mellon School of Drama|
|Occupation||Film actor, producer, director, screenwriter|
Tony Anthony (born Roger Pettito; October 16, 1937) is an American actor, producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his starring roles in spaghetti westerns. In the early 1980s, Anthony wrote, produced and starred in Comin' at Ya! (1981) and Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983), the first film being largely credited with the short-lived revival of Hollywood 3-D action films.
Anthony was born Roger Pettito in Clarksburg, West Virginia. With his friend Saul Swimmer directing, Anthony and Peter Gayle produced the half-hour children's short The Boy Who Owned a Melephant (1959), narrated by actress Tallulah Bankhead. The three men would become his frequent collaborators. The film won a Gold Leaf award at the Venice International Children's Film Festival. Following that short, Anthony and Swimmer co-wrote the Swimmer-directed independent features Force of Impulse (1961), a Romeo and Juliet story about a high school football player who turns to robbery, filmed in Miami Beach, Florida, and Without Each Other (1962). Anthony then moved to Italy to film Wounds of Hunger, which he co-wrote, and La ragazza in prestito. Swimmer had moved to England, where he befriended Allen Klein.
Anthony was in Europe when Sergio Leone's Westerns were setting box office records but had not yet been released in America. Anthony contacted Klein, then a major MGM stockholder, about co-financing a spaghetti western he was in with Klein and Anthony both putting up $20,000 US. The film Klein produced was the spaghetti western A Stranger in Town or Un Dollaro tra i Denti, starring Anthony as the Stranger, a shotgun-wielding antihero who helps a group of Mexican bandits steal gold from the US Army and Federales, and then steals it right back from them. Released by MGM to compete with the United Artists Clint Eastwood the Man with No Name film series, it became a surprise success, and spawned three sequels in which Anthony reprised his role.
With these films, some felt Anthony's persona was not the typical tough spaghetti western hero; the Stranger was vulnerable and sneaky, with a sardonic sense of humor. Anthony recalled that director Luigi Vanzi constantly described the character to him as "a bad guy but you do good in spite of yourself. You're not Gary Cooper. You're not John Wayne. You're not the 'tall in the saddle' cowboy. You're the street guy. The audience can identify with you because you look like the guy that goes into movie theaters and says 'Well I could be like him'." Anthony himself described the Stranger as "a dirty coal-mining cowboy". The second Stranger film, The Stranger Returns or Un Uomo, un cavallo, una Pistola that had a golden stagecoach as its MacGuffin and a Stelvio Cipriani score that had several cover versions by various orchestras. Anthony's willingness to experiment with the genre resulted in the third series entry, A Stranger in Japan or Lo Straniero di Silenzio or The Silent Stranger with another Cipriani score. Considered by some the first "East-meets-West western", predating Red Sun by three years, its release was delayed for seven years in the US due to a dispute with MGM, and never received a European release at all. Anthony later declared the film his best and lamented the cuts that MGM made to it.
His next film was Blindman, a spaghetti-western variation on the Zatoichi series and, unlike other Zapata Westerns, featured the Federales winning at the end. Anthony played a blind gunslinger hired to escort 50 mail-order brides to their husbands. By that time, Klein had become the manager of the Beatles, and Swimmer had directed many of their music videos and concert films. Both were producers on Blindman, and their presence led to Ringo Starr accepting a supporting role as one of the bandits. Starr would produce Anthony's next film, which Swimmer would direct: a semi-autobiographical road movie called Cometogether. In this film, Anthony plays an American stuntman working on spaghetti westerns in Rome. The film contains behind the scenes-footage of a spaghetti western being shot.
In 1976, long after the heyday of the genre, Anthony starred as the Stranger for a fourth time in Get Mean produced by Ron Schneider. A bizarre film that can barely be considered a western at all, it instead takes place in Spain, where the Stranger has to battle invading Vikings and Moors after escorting a princess there. It failed to find a wide audience.
In 1981, Anthony returned to the spaghetti well for Comin' at Ya!, a 3-D Western he wrote, produced, and starred in. In order for the film to receive a wide release, Anthony designed a low-cost projection lens which was cheaper than conventional 3-D lenses.
Anthony would star in one more 3-D film, Treasure of the Four Crowns. Anthony next announced a 3-D science-fiction movie called Seeing is Believing, but with the 3-D craze over, it could not find a financier and was never made.
Anthony's last acting role was in Treasure of the Four Crowns. He went on to occasionally produce films, such as Wild Orchid and the spaghetti-western throwback Dollar for the Dead, and ran an optical equipment company that he said sold an estimated $1 million worth of lenses up to the release of Jaws 3-D in 1983.
In late August 2009, Anthony announced he had taken the "over and under 3-D" format of "Comin' At Ya!" and converted it to "digital 3-D" as a part of the film's reissue. Following an exhibition at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas on September 25, 2011, the film was restored and digitalized for a 30th anniversary theatrical re-release and played in theaters throughout Texas starting on February 24, 2012.
|1961||Force of Impulse||Toby Marino||Also producer and story|
|1962||Without Each Other||Boy||Also writer|
|1963||Wounds of Hunger||undetermined role|
|1964||Le belle famiglie
(also known as Beautiful families)
|Luigi||Segment: "La cernia"|
|1965||Let's Talk About Men||undetermined role|
|1967||A Stranger in Town
(also known as A Dollar Between the Teeth)
|The Stranger Returns
(also known as A Man, a Horse, a Gun and Shoot First, Laugh Last)
|The Stranger||Also story|
|1968||A Stranger in Japan
(also known as The Silent Stranger)
|The Stranger||Also producer and writer|
|1971||Come Together||Tony||Also director, producer, and writer|
|Blindman||Blindman||Also producer and writer|
(also known as 1931: Once Upon a Time in New York)
|1976||Get Mean||The Stranger||Also producer|
|1981||Comin' at Ya!||H.H. Hart||Also producer and story (as Tony Pettito)|
|1983||Treasure of the Four Crowns||J.T. Striker||Also producer and story (as Tony Pettito)|
|1998||Dollar for the Dead||TV movie|
- Leydon, Joe (February 23, 2012). "Back in the Saddle with 'Comin' At Ya!'". Cowboys & Indians. Archived from the original on September 19, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- "Celebrity Birthday: October 16". UGO.com. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Frayling, Christopher (April 2, 2006). Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys And Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone. I.B.Tauris. pp. 82–. ISBN 9781845112073. Retrieved June 28, 2012.
- Bayless, Jason (February 17, 2010). "The Tony Anthony Interview – Re-broadcast". Zombie Popcorn Radio. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Whittaker, Richard (March 4, 2012). "Comin' Back at Ya! Tony Anthony resurrects his 3D Western for Drafthouse Films". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Simpson, Don (February 28, 2012). "Austin Cinematic Limits: Comin’ At Ya! ... Texas!". Austin Cinematic Limits. FilmSchoolRejects.com. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Oliver, Phillip, Tallulah: A Passionate Life (website) (WebCitation archive)
- Carrier, Jeffrey L., Tallulah Bankhead: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press, 1991; ISBN 0-313-27452-5, ISBN 978-0-313-27452-7, p. 146).
- Kilgallen, Dorothy (September 13, 1960). "Voice of Broadway". (Syndicated column) via the Schenectady Gazette. p. 16. "The youngest film producers in the United States – 22-year-old Peter Gayle, Saul Swimmer and Tony Anthony – are negotiating for the film rights to Arthur Miller's '[A] Memory of Two Mondays'."
- Carrier, p. 146
- Weisser, Thomas (1992). Spaghetti Westerns: the Good, the Bad, and the Violent; A Comprehensive, Illustrated Filmography of 558 Eurowesterns and their Personnel, 1961–1977. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 301. ISBN 0899506887.
- Boyer, Peter J. (June 18, 1981). "Debating The Rating For 'Raiders'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Hicks, Christopher (February 11, 1982). "In new and old films, 3-D is coming back". The Deseret News. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Ary, John (September 25, 2011). "Interview with Tony Anthony, Pioneer of Modern 3-D". Ain't It Cool TV. Retrieved September 18, 2012.