Friday, March 3, 2023, Tomas Milian would have turned 90-years-old. Click here to view a wikipedia entry on him. In honor of this Cuban-born actor with citizenship in both the United States and Italy, I would like to wish Tomas Milian a happy belated 90th birthday. Though primarily remembered as a star of Italy’s two most profitable genres/sub-genres (Spaghetti Westerns and Poliziotteschis), Milian’s interest in acting started when he was a student at New York’s prestigious Actor’s Studio before heading to Italy. As his career took off, Milian proved that he was every bit as comfortable playing charismatic anti-heroes (Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!) as he was playing no-nonsense cops (The Tough Ones) and sleazy criminals (Almost Human). I still have to see the Nico Giraldi films, but Steve (a regular visitor on here) implies to me that they are unique within the Poliziotteschi sub-genre 🙂 I have loved everything Steve has recommended to me and these films (there are 11 in total) should be no exception 🙂 Milian has also worked with some of the most esteemed European filmmakers of all-time including Luchino Visconti, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Claude Chabrol, Bernardo Bertolucci and Michelangelo Antonioni. He has also collaborated with some of the most prominent American/English directors of our time, which include Carol Reed, Dennis Hopper, Abel Ferrara, Tony Scott, Sydney Pollack, Oliver Stone, John Frankenheimer, Steven Spielberg, James Gray and Stephen Soderbergh.
Click here to view a fan site dedicated to Tomas Milian (note: one might have to translate it to English since it is an Italian website)
Click here to view a youtube video link to a 2017 documentary interviewing Tomas Milian entitled The Journey of Tomas Milian
Click here to view a youtube video link to a 2013 Italian television interview with Tomas Milian (note: one might have to go to settings on the video to translate the subtitles to English)
Click here to view a youtube link to an interview with Tomas Milian and actor Fabio Testi on Lucio Fulci’s 1975 spaghetti western Four of the Apocalypse
Last, but not least, here is a list of my favorite Tomas Milian films 🙂 All of which I gave * * * * (out of * * * *) stars to
- Boccaccio ’70 (1962) (Segment: The Temptation of Dr. Antonio) (Dir: Luchino Visconti) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Ro.Go.Pa.G. (1963) (Segment: La ricotta) (Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- The Big Gundown (1967) (Dir: Sergio Sollima) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Face to Face (1967) (Dir: Sergio Sollima) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967) (Dir: Giulio Questi) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Run, Man, Run (1968) (Dir: Sergio Sollima) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Companeros (1970) (Dir: Sergio Corbucci) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Sonny and Jed (1972) (Dir: Sergio Corbucci) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) (Dir: Lucio Fulci) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Almost Human (1974) (Dir: Umberto Lenzi) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Four of the Apocalypse (1975) (Dir: Lucio Fulci) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- The Tough Ones (1976) (Dir: Umberto Lenzi) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- La Luna (1979) (Dir: Bernardo Bertolucci) Click here to view the film’s original theatrical trailer
- Identification of a Woman (1982) (Dir: Michelangelo Antonioni) Click here to view what may be a revival trailer for the film
- Miami Vice – Season 2 (1985) (Episode: Bought and Paid For) (Dir: John Nicolella)
What is your favorite Tomas Milian films? If you have seen a good number of them?
34 thoughts on “Happy Belated 90th Birthday Tomas Milian”
Great timing as the Tomas Milian / Umberto Lenzi box set is released next week on the 28th!
I posted this before but here it is again.
Please get stuck into the Nico Giraldi films. They’re a lot of fun. I really like nearly all the films. The only ones I wasn’t too keen on were Delitto al ristorante cinese and Cop In Drag. I really wish the Nico Giraldi films could get DVD releases in the English speaking world.
This is from the sixth film in the series Assassination on the Tiber / Assassinio sul Tevere.
There’s an Italian comedian named Bombolo in the Nico Giraldi films. Tomas and Bombolo were best buddies in real life. Maybe Bombolo is kind of an Italian
Rodney Dangerfield as he gets no respect too as you can see.
I should remember him from Traffic, but as I never watched Spaghetti Westerns, he is not that familiar to me, John.
Best wishes, Pete.
This is a fantastic blog post, John.Thanks for all the effort you put into it. It does Tomas justice and it’s an excellent overview of his career. Great links you provided too. Your list of favourite films of his is great too. I haven’t seen some of the films on the list though.
Aa you can guess I’m a huge Tomas Milian fan. He’s one of my favourite actors for his range, versatility and sheer talent and ability as an actor. He was a chameleon. He could play so many different kinds of characters. He could play villains and good guys seamlessly as you say and he would he often change his appearance in his roles which really showed his versatility. Tomas was a legend if you ask me.
Did you know Tomas starred with Orson Welles in the western Tepepa (1969)?
I haven’t seen the film but it’s number 11 on Alex Cox’s list of favourite spaghetti westerns.
My favourite Tomas film without a shadow of a doubt is Umberto Lenzi’s Almost Human. It is Lenzi’s masterpiece and is very possibly the masterpiece of poliziotteschi. it is definitely the best poliziotteschi i have seen. Almost Human was Tomas’ favourite film and performance of his own so I agree with him. As the psychopathic maniac criminal Giulio Sacchi in the film, Tomas was crazed, manic and like a human Tasmanian Devil. i love the film and his performance so I consider it my favourite Tomas film.
Next would be the three films as his character Er Monnezza. All are great films:
Tough Cop / Il trucido e lo sbirro (1976) directed by Umberto Lenzi
Destruction Force / La banda del trucido (1976) directed by Stelvio Massi
Brothers Til We Die (1978) directed by Umberto Lenzi
My other favourite films of his are some of his other poliziotteschis. Namely:
Squadra Volonate (1974) directed by Stelvio Massi
The Tough Ones (1976) directed by Umberto Lenzi
Young, Violent, Dangerous (1976) directed by Romolo Guerrieri
The Nico Giraldi films are more favourites. I also like a comedy movie he was in called Il figlio dello sceicco (1978) directed by Bruno Corbucci. I recommend that film. it’s on youtube. I also like the two westerns he did with Sergio Corbucci. I think Companeros is great and Sonny and Jed is excellent.
Another favourite is Oliver Stone’s JFK which I consider a masterpiece and is one of my favourite films. Tomas was great as an anti-Castro Cuban conspirator.
On your list I haven’t seen Boccaccio ’70, Ro.Go.Pa.G., Don’t Torture A Duckling, La Luna and Identification of a Woman.
Once again, truly great blog post and thanks for it!
I really love this intro. I also love the Forbidden Season video of Alex talking about Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot! which is on my channel as you know.
About Tomas’s westerns. I’ve seen The Big Gundown, Face To Face, Django Kill…If You Live, Shoot!, Run, Man, Run and I thought all of those were good films. In the above intro Alex called Run, Man, Run “rather worse than mediocre”. I disagree. I thought it was good.
My favourite of Tomas’ westerns are Sergio Corbucci’s Companeros (which I think is great) and Sonny and Jed (which I think is excellent).
I’ve also seen Lucio Fulci’s Four of the Apocalypse and I thought it was good. Tomas is great in the film but he’s only in it for about minutes. Four of the Apocalypse is like The Great Silence in that it’s a western in the snow. It’s quite gruesome and stomach churning too as you’d expect from Lucio Fulci.
To Steve and Beetleypete: I will be posting my replies to all of your comments on Sunday 🙂 I just wanted to let you all know so neither of you got the idea that I was ignoring the comments, which I would never do 🙂 Anyway, I can’t wait to answer all of your replies this Sunday 🙂
I love the link to the trailer box set Steve 🙂 I can’t wait to get it – I love Almost Human and I know for a fact, that I will not be disappointed by the other films in the box set 🙂
I love that video link Steve 🙂 The music fits perfectly with Tomas Milian’s charisma on display throughout those various films shown in the montage 🙂
I can totally see the Rodney Dangerfield connection there Steve 🙂 OMG poor Bombolo – he keeps getting slapped around 🙂
I will Steve 🙂 Given the number of films in the Nico Giraldi series, I am tempted to make a comparison that it does for poliziotesschis what Django did for spaghetti westerms. In other words, both were iconic films in the sub-genre that spawned a high number of sequels 🙂
Me and Steve are huge fans of him Pete 🙂 We have no problem recommending some of the films to you, but I know you have made it clear that you are not big on spaghetti westerns or poliziotesschis. Nevertheless, I think you will dig anything directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Luchino Visconti, Bernardo Bertolucci and Michelangelo Antonioni 🙂
Why thank you for the kind words Steve 🙂 I am glad that you loved the links 🙂 Tell me, this blog entry probably felt like the equivalent of a huge birthday present to you 🙂
I feel the same way you do about Tomas Milian 🙂 His performance as Giulio Sacchi was truly electrifying and frightening 🙂 As for Tepepa, I am trying to see where I can watch it since based on my knowledge, it has never been available on any home video format.
As for your favorites, I have seen The Tough Ones and as I said before, I can’t wait to see the others on your list 🙂
I have to catch up on the Nico Giraldi films, but that comedy on youtube directed by Bruno Corbucci, I must ask, any relation to Sergio? 🙂
I so have to revisit the filmography of Oliver Stone because it has been a long time since I last saw one of his films 🙂
As for Boccaccio ’70, the segment Milian was in was directed by Luchino Visconti, who helmed such masterpieces as The Leopard, Senso and Rocco and His Brothers among many others 🙂 The segment of Ro.Go.Pa.G. that Milian was in was directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini, who helmed the controversial 1975 film Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom 🙂 Since you mention Lucio Fulci later on here, you are probably aware that he directed Don’t Torture A Duckling 🙂 La Luna was helmed by Bernardo Bertolucci, who helmed such masterpieces as Before the Revolution, The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris and 1900 among many others 🙂 Identification of a Woman was directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, who is known for such masterpieces as L’Avventura, La Notte, L’Eclisse and Red Desert among many others 🙂 Perhaps his biggest hit in America and the UK (where you live) was 1966’s Blow-Up with David Hemmings. Blow-Up served as an influence on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation and Brian De Palma’s Blow Out respectively 🙂
Thank you for the kind words Steve and btw, I updated my star rating of the 1981 version of Pennies from Heaven to * * * * (out of * * * *) stars 🙂
I too love Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intro to Face to Face 🙂 That painting (or is it wallpaper) behind Cox is an awesome touch 🙂 You probably feel the same way about this but whenever Cox talks about spaghetti westerns (whether one agrees with him or not), I feel like I am getting a college education on the history of the sub-genre 🙂 I am also aware of your video on Alex Cox’s Forbidden Season intro of Django Kill, which I did a blog entry on back in 2020 🙂 An interesting thing about Django Kill (and Cox implied this as well) is how surreal it is for a spaghetti western 🙂 I think the best way to sum it up would be what a western would look like had it been helmed by Luis Bunuel (a favorite of Cox) 🙂
I hear ya Steve 🙂 Every spaghetti western I have seen with Tomas Milian is excellent 🙂
I too noticed that Milian’s role was small in Four of the Apocalypse, which makes me wonder why they teamed him with Fabio Testi to talk about the film in that one link I posted above? 🙂 Great film nonetheless or at least, I thought so 🙂
Btw, Alex Cox updated his top 10 favorite films that he contributed to Sight & Sound magazine recently – here is a link below 🙂
It was. This post is truly fantastic and a great way to honor Tomas. Thanks again for it. I really liked reading what you’ve written.
Bruno Corbucci is the brother of Sergio Corbucci. He was the co-screenwriter of Django and The Great Silence. He wrote and directed the Nico Giraldi films so he was talented.
You should definitely rewatch Oliver Stone’s films. He’s my favourite directot. He’s directed some masterpieces which I think are some of the best films ever made. Salvador and Talk Radio were of course on Alex Cox’s Moviedrome. Both are fantastic and I think Salvador is a masterpiece. It’s one of my favourite films.
All those directors you mention are obviously great talents. It’s a big oversight that I haven’t watched their films. Maybe I should.
That’s good about the Pennies From Heaven movie. I think it’s a great film. Although one area where it’s lacking is Bernadette Peters’ performance. She isn’t bad at all but she isn’t great too. I think she’s only decent in the role. Cheryl Campbell’s acting was infinitely better in the BBC original.
I think Jessica Harper is good as Joan in the movie. I actually think the character of Joan was done better in the movie than the TV original. I think Joan is far too prim and proper in the TV original. maybe too much. Joan is a bit more human in the movie. One area where the movie is definitely better than the TV original was the casting of Christopher Walken. The actor playing that character in the original just can’t compare to him. It’s Christopher Walken!
It’s also interesting to see Alex’s new list of favourite films. It’s much the same as his previous list but there are four new additions. Interesting that For A Few Dollars More is now on the list. There’d just have to be a spaghetti western in his top 10 list. There wasn’t in his previous list.
And thank you for the kind words once again Steve 🙂
I had a feeling Bruno was related to Sergio 🙂 I also can’t believe that I forgot he co-wrote both Django and The Great Silence with him 🙂 Since I love both of those films, I now desperately need to watch the Nico Giraldi films 🙂
Then a rewatch of Oliver Stone films I shall commit to one of these days 🙂 I am also aware that Salvador and Talk Radio were Moviedrome films 🙂 Speaking of Stone, he too submitted a top 10 favorite list to Sight & Sound magazine 🙂 Here is the link below 🙂
I love the 1981 version of Pennies from Heaven every bit as much as the 1978 BBC miniseries 🙂 Personally, I thought Bernadette Peters was fantastic, but yes, I would probably rank Cheryl Campbell’s interpretation of the role as the better performance 🙂 Though I love Gemma Craven in the miniseries, I will say that what made Jessica Harper’s interpretation of Joan more special was that she made it her own 🙂 I totally agree with your thoughts on Christopher Walken 🙂 Speaking of which (even though you have seen it too) here is a youtube video link to his song and dance rendition of Lets Misbehave from the aforementioned film below 🙂
Also, here is a youtube video link to his dance moves from the 2001 Fatboy Slim music video Weapon of Choice
Also, let us not forget the spectacular art deco and Gordon Willis dazzling cinematography 🙂
P.S. you will also be happy to hear that I have upgraded my * * * 1/2 star rating of Brian De Palma’s Scarface to * * * * (out of * * * *) stars 🙂
Prominent examples for me from Alex Cox’s updated list Steve is that Ken Russell’s The Devils is no longer on there and his favorite Akira Kurosawa film is now Ikiru as opposed to Throne of Blood 🙂 It was great to see a spaghetti western on his list and For a Few Dollars More is one of the many great ones 🙂
Great tribute to Tomas Milian and very interesting comment thread. Thanks to you John and Steve for sharing your knowledge.
Why thank you for the kind words Paul S 🙂 In fact, some of the spaghetti westerns that Tomas Milian was in, were featured on Moviedrome like Face to Face 🙂
What a great discussion!
My memory’s fuzzy on most of his stuff, but I had the pleasure of captioning many seasons of Miami Vice in the ’90s, and how can I forget General Arroyo?
It made my day to come in and have a Miami Vice episode waiting for me! lol
Sorry for the late response Stacey 🙂 Tomas Milian has been in a lot of great stuff 🙂 Speaking of Miami Vice, I was a huge fan of the first 3 seasons 🙂 Not only that, but I also loved the underrated 2006 film directed by it’s creator Michael Mann 🙂
No problem! It’s hard to keep up. And then half the time I don’t see the notifications.
But yeah, Miami Vice–a lot of it was fun. The episode with Edward James Olmos wielding the sword was pretty emotional and interesting.
Oh man, I looked the film up just now. I’m pretty sure we must have seen it! But I don’t remember it! But I bet we liked it, ’cause we’re big fans of Colin Farrell, Justin Theroux, and Mr. Hinds.
Speaking of Colin Farrell, did you see that film recently that garnered him an Oscar nomination entitled The Banshees of Inisherin? 🙂
No, but we definitely want to! Weren’t those same two together in In Bruges?!
It looks good, kinda weird, but good weird. Why does this guy want to stop being friends suddenly? Can’t wait to check it out, actually.
Yes they were Stacey and the other actor’s name is Brendan Gleeson btw 🙂
Did you get the Tomas Milian / Umberto Lenzi boxset? If so, how is it? Did you watch the films? Any opinions. How are the extras?
Sorry for the late response Steve 🙂 Been busy as usual 🙂 I have not gotten the box set yet, but that shall change soon 🙂