Five essential Bud Spencer films to watch this weekend

Italian silver-screen legend Bud Spencer passed away on Monday, aged 86.

Five essential Bud Spencer films to watch this weekend
Italian actor, Bud Spencer, passed away on Monday. Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

Although he didn't begin his acting career until the age of 38, he went on to star in 61 films, many of which gained cult status with cinema fans worldwide.

Spencer, the stage name of Carlo Pedersoli, is perhaps best remembered for his fruitful on-screen partnership with compatriot Terrence Hill during the 1970s and 80s.

Spencer's entertaining brand of low-brow European cinema made him a household name around the world and turned him into something of a national treasure in Italy.

After news of his death broke on Tuesday, even Prime Minister Matteo Renzi paid his tributes to the film-star, tweeting “Bye #BudSpencer, We loved you.”

If you're looking to remember, or even discover, the delights of the late Bud Spencer's work, here are five films you should definitely watch.

They Call Me Trinity – 1970

In this spaghetti western shot in southern Italy, Spencer stars alongside Terrence Hill, who was his on-screen film partner for some 18 films. Spencer plays a stand-in sheriff who teams up with his brother (Hill) to stop an evil land baron from taking over land belonging to a group of Mormons.

The film was a box office sensation, raking in more than each of the films in Sergeo Leone's trilogy, thanks to its blend of humour, action and the iconic theme tune by Franco Micalizzi.

Due to its success, the film spawned an instant sequel (Trinity is Still my Name – 1971) but many spaghetti western fans say its excessive use of slapstick humour and parodic use of western conventions all but killed the spaghetti western as a serious cinematic genre.

Flatfoot -1973

Flatfoot is a crime-police romp set on the mean streets of 1970s Naples, the city in which Perdersoli, aka Spencer, was born and raised.

Spencer stars as commissioner Frank Rizzo – the eponymous 'flatfoot' whose unorthodox methods to help him bust a gang of drug dealers from Marseille, who are trafficking drugs into the city using frozen fish.

The hulking 6'4 Spencer spends the majority of the film as a one-man demolition squad, punching the living daylights out of anyone who stands in his way.

In addition to the action, the film combines elements of slapstick comedy and great on-location footage of the southern Italian city. It proved to be a recipe for success: the film was a huge commercial hit and spawned no less than four sequels, which saw Rizzo fighting crime in cities all over the world.

Watch Out We're mad – 1974

This comedy romp sees Hill and Spencer star as rival race-car drivers who are battling for control of a special off-road car they both think they won as a prize.

However, when a local mobster destroys their coveted vehicle the pair join forces in a bid to get a new one…causing chaos to break loose. The film sees Hill and Spencer at their best and includes a star-turn from the late Donald Pleasence as a Freudian psychologist….

A Friend is Treasure -1981

Spencer and Hill star as two friends trying to retrieve a stash of Japanese booty left on a South Pacific island during the Second World War.

As part of the quest, the pair must overcome sharks, pirates, unfriendly natives and even a crazed Japanese soldier who still lives on the island trying to protect his treasure.

It's probably not the most politically correct film ever made, but the never-ending stream of punches, gags and the great chemistry shared by Hill and Spencer make it a delight to watch. 

Double Trouble – 1984

Hill and a noticeably paunchy Spencer star as a pair of look-alikes who are hired to stand in for a pair of Brazilian billionaires hiding out from an assassination attempt.

The pair successfully survive attempts on their life, but use their newfound identity as billionaires to live a lavish playboy lifestyle – which creates new enemies in the form of their employers.

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The most spectacular places to see outdoor cinema in Italy this summer

Throughout the hot summer nights, Italy lays on outdoor cinema in truly spectacular locations. Here's a guide to where you can catch it – though with backdrops like these, it might be tough to keep your eyes off the scenery and on the screen.

The most spectacular places to see outdoor cinema in Italy this summer
Photo: I ragazzi del Cinema America/Facebook

Rome: movies on the Tiber

Until September 2nd, you'll find nightly films, talks, concerts and other events taking place in the middle of the River Tiber as part of the Isola di Roma Festival. Take a seat in front on the giant screen set up on Isola Tiberina, Rome's only island, to catch a mix of old, new, Italian and foreign films accompanied by the soundtrack of the rushing river.

Photo: Luca Salvini/Isola del Cinema/Facebook

Follow the river north and you'll come to the Molo Film Festival, which will be showing a short film followed by a feature – all for free – on the banks of the Tiber every night from August 5th to 31st. Look for the screen by Ponte Milvio bridge.

For other open-air screenings in the capital, check out Cinema in Piazza, which is showing dozens of films for free until September 8th at three different locations: a school courtyard in central Trastevere, the Casale della Cervelletta park in the east, and by the sea at the port of Ostia.

Photo: I ragazzi del Cinema America/Facebook

In the Villa Borghese, until September 5th, the Casa del Cinema is moving its movies outside for free nightly projections in the heart of one of Rome's loveliest parks. 

And you'll also find a carefully curated selection of showings every Wednesday until August 1st at Cinema Giardino in the pretty gardens by the Farnesina, Italy's Foreign Ministry.

Milan: films above the rooftops

For a view as good as the show, book a ticket at Cinema Bianchini on the roof of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade. Showing a selection of classics until September 30th, the intimate cinema is split across two terraces with panoramic views over the Duomo and the glass dome of the arcade itself. Spectators are provided with benches, blankets and even dessert.

For a less chichi experience, head into the western suburbs of Milan to catch a broad range of open-air films at Cinema in cuffia at the hip Mare urban cultural centre, located on a social housing estate: it'll be a different ambiance, but no less atmospheric. Until September 7th.

Back in the city centre, check out AriAnteo's diverse selection of outdoor screenings at the Royal Palace, the CityLife business district, a converted convent and a church cloister until September 12th.

Turin: screenings under the stars

… or should that be among them? Every Friday between August 17th and September 14th the Turin Planetarium will show films on its rooftop terrace, open to any visitors who've paid to enter the space museum. Each movie celebrates great minds from the fields of maths and science, including Stephen Hawking, Alan Turing and NASA's pioneering “human computers”. 


Film fans can also look forward to Cinema al Palazzo Reale, an outdoor screen in the courtyard of Turin's Royal Palace, which will be hosting 41 nights of movies between July 17th and September 1st. Expect an eclectic programme, including a newly restored version of 1916 silent film The Fire accompanied by live music from an experimental rock band.

Padua: an ancient movie (amphi)theatre

We suspect the Romans who built Padua's amphitheatre wouldn't object to it hosting the modern-day equivalent to their ancient entertainments. Until July 31st, you can make like a Roman spectator and watch the show at the Arena Romana, where you'll find a selection of European and American recent releases.

Photo: photobeginner/DepositPhotos

Bologna: pictures in the piazza

Pull up a pew (or just find a spot on the steps) in Piazza Maggiore for Sotte le stelle del Cinema, a summer of movies that runs until August 15th. The free screenings in Bologna's impressive central square are mainly dedicated to classics from Italy, Europe and Hollywood, but also include a select handful of more recent releases. Some will be accompanied by live music and/or an introduction by the director.

Photo: Lorenzo Burlando/Cineteca di Bologna/Facebook

Florence: cinema among the sculptures

The seventh art joins the other six at the Uffizi Galleries in Florence. From June 25th to August 11th, one of Italy's most famous museums will open its courtyard to Apriti Cinema, 48 free screenings of films old and new from around the world. Look out for Hitchcock thrillers, jazz documentaries, South Korean dramas, classics of Italian neorealism and more. All showings are free, but places are limited.

Photo: timbrk/Depositphotos

Perugia: a silver screen in the gardens

Every summer Perugia's elegant Giardini del Frontone play host to Frontone Cinema, rigging up a projector behind the park's triumphal arch and turning the space into an outdoor theatre. This year's programme, running until September 13th, contains something for everyone – including a special CinePride selection dedicated to LGBT themes and filmmakers. 

Photo: Frontone Cinema/Facebook

Naples: flicks under a volcano

Until August 15th, you can go the movies in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. With nightly screenings in the gardens of Villa Bruno in San Giorgio di Cremano, to the south of Naples, Cinema intorno al Vesuvio brings together family-friendly animated features with Hollywood blockbusters and more intellectual fare from this year's Cannes Film Festival.

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP

Amantea: shorts by the beach

From August 7-11th, the beach resort of Amantea on Italy's south-west Calabrian coast hosts what might just be the country's most right-on summer cinemas – and one of its most beautiful. Founded with the mission of “bringing the cinema back to the people and the people back to the cinema”, La Guarimba International Film Festival lays on four nights of talks, tours, aperitivi and short films from around the world. Most of the showings take place in a public park nestled into a cliff face.

Photo: La Guarimba