Tony Anthony (actor)

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Tony Anthony
Tony Anthony (actor).jpg
Anthony as "The Stranger" during the production of A Stranger in Town (1967)
Born Roger Pettito
(1937-10-16) October 16, 1937 (age 78)
Clarksburg, West Virginia, U.S.
Other names Tony Pettito
Alma mater Carnegie Mellon School of Drama
Occupation Film actor, producer, screenwriter, director
Years active 1959–1998

Tony Anthony (born Roger Pettito; October 16, 1937)[1][2] is an American actor, producer, screenwriter and director best known for his starring roles in Spaghetti Westerns, most of which were produced with the aid of his friends and associates Allen Klein and Saul Swimmer. These films consist of The Stranger series - A Stranger in Town (1967), The Stranger Returns (1967), The Silent Stranger (1968) and Get Mean (1975) - and the Zatoichi-inspired Blindman (1971).[3] Anthony also wrote, produced and starred in Comin' at Ya! (1981) and Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983), the first film being largely credited with beginning the 1980s revival of 3D films in Hollywood.[1][4][5][6]

Early career[edit]

Anthony was born Roger Pettito in Clarksburg, West Virginia.[1] 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.[7][8] The three men would become his frequent collaborators.[9] The film won a Gold Leaf award at the Venice International Children's Film Festival.[10] 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 and La ragazza in prestito. Swimmer had moved to England, where he befriended Allen Klein.[4]

Spaghetti westerns[edit]

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 stockholder at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, about co-financing a spaghetti western he was in with Klein and Anthony both putting up $20,000 US.[4] The film Klein produced was the Spaghetti Western A Stranger in Town, 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 United Artists' Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood, it became a surprise success, and spawned three sequels in which Anthony reprised his role.[4]

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.[1] 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'."[4] Anthony himself described the Stranger as "a dirty coal-mining cowboy".[4] The second Stranger film, The Stranger Returns has 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, The Silent Stranger with another Cipriani score. Considered by some the first "East-meets-West Western", predating Red Sun by three years,[11] its release was delayed for seven years in the US due to a dispute between Klein and MGM, and never received a European release.[4] Anthony later declared the film his best and lamented the cuts that MGM made to it.[4]

His next film was Blindman, a Spaghetti Western variation on the Zatoichi series. Anthony plays a blind gunslinger hired to escort 50 mail-order brides to their husbands. By that time, Klein had been 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.[12] Starr would produce Anthony's next film, which Swimmer would direct: a road movie called Come Together. 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.[13]

In 1975, long after the heyday of the genre, Anthony starred as the Stranger for a fourth time in Get Mean produced by Ron Schneider. A unique film often compared to Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness, the film 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.[14]

3D years[edit]

In 1981, Anthony returned to the spaghetti well for Comin' at Ya!, a 3D 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.[citation needed]

Anthony would star in one more 3D film, Treasure of the Four Crowns. Anthony next announced a 3D science-fiction movie called Seeing is Believing,[15][16] but with the 3D craze over, it could not find a financier and was never made.[citation needed]

Later career[edit]

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.[4]

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.[17] Following an exhibition at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas on September 25, 2011,[18] the film was restored and digitalized for a 30th anniversary theatrical re-release and played in theaters throughout Texas starting on February 24, 2012.[1][5][6]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Boy Who Owned a Melephant N/A Producer and writer
1961 Force of Impulse Toby Marino Also producer and story
1962 Without Each Other Boy Also writer
1963 Wounds of Hunger Luis Ortega
1964 Engagement Italiano Franco
1964 Beautiful Families
Luigi Segment: "La cernia"
1965 Let's Talk About Men N/A Producer (uncredited)[4]
1967 A Stranger in Town
(also known as For a Dollar in the Teeth)
The Stranger
The Stranger Returns
(also known as A Man, a Horse, a Gun, Shoot First... Laugh Last!)
The Stranger Also story
1968 The Silent Stranger
(also known as The Horseman and the Samurai, The Stranger in Japan)
The Stranger Also producer and writer
1971 Come Together Tony Also co-director, producer, and co-writer
Blindman Blindman Also producer and co-writer
1972 Pete, Pearl & the Pole
(also known as 1931: Once Upon a Time in New York)
Pete Di Benedetto Also producer and co-writer
1975 Get Mean
(also known as Beat a Dead Horse, Vengeance of the Barbarians, The Stranger Gets 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)
1989 Wild Orchid N/A Producer
1989 Honeymoon Academy N/A Producer
1998 Dollar for the Dead N/A Producer

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e 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. 
  2. ^ "Celebrity Birthday: October 16". UGO.com. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Bayless, Jason (February 17, 2010). "The Tony Anthony Interview – Re-broadcast". Zombie Popcorn Radio. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Whittaker, Richard (March 4, 2012). "Comin' Back at Ya! Tony Anthony resurrects his 3D Western for Drafthouse Films". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Simpson, Don (February 28, 2012). "Austin Cinematic Limits: Comin' At Ya! ... Texas!". Austin Cinematic Limits. FilmSchoolRejects.com. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ Oliver, Phillip, Tallulah: A Passionate Life (website) (WebCitation archive)
  8. ^ Carrier, Jeffrey L., Tallulah Bankhead: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press, 1991; ISBN 0-313-27452-5, ISBN 978-0-313-27452-7, p. 146).
  9. ^ 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'. 
  10. ^ Carrier, p. 146
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Goodman, Fred (2015). Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 203. ISBN 978-0-547-89686-1. 
  13. ^ "COME TOGETHER - DVD-R". Something Weird Video. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  14. ^ Get Mean (DVD). Los Angeles, California: Blue Underground. 1975. 
  15. ^ Boyer, Peter J. (June 18, 1981). "Debating The Rating For 'Raiders'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  16. ^ Hicks, Christopher (February 11, 1982). "In new and old films, 3D is coming back". The Deseret News. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ CominAtYaNoir3D.com
  18. ^ Ary, John (September 25, 2011). "Interview with Tony Anthony, Pioneer of Modern 3-D". Ain't It Cool TV. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 

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