‘Sonny and Jed’ or — Cinema for Nasty Schoolboys?

Colin Edwards
4 min readFeb 19


(Warning — contains language and imagery that might upset some readers, especially Quentin Tarantino fans)

So my mate came round for movie night on Friday evening.

“Hey, Colin! We should watch ‘Sonny and Jed’. It was the subject of one of…”

“Quentin Tarantino’s latest podcast?” (He’s recently joined the cult of the Tarantino podcast brigade over the last few weeks so my heart quickly sank)

“Yeah. Anyway, it’s a Spaghetti Western from the…”

“Nineteen Seventies?”

“Yeah! The Nineteen Seventies. How on earth did you guess Quentin Tarantino would like a film from that decade? Anyway, you love Italian Westerns so let’s watch this tonight, and you should check out Tarantino’s podcast because it’s great. He mentions many of the films you love.”

I had, in fact, already tried listening to an episode of Tarantino’s Video Archives podcast and had to frantically switch it off after only five minutes because, for me, the only thing worse than sitting through a Tarantino movie is listening to him rabbit on about movies like some sort of deranged, pontificating maniac on speed. Not only that but many of the films QT recommends are pretty… shit? I mean sure, he’s likes some good stuff but his taste is questionable at best. But maybe ‘Sonny and Jed’ (1972) would be an exceptio.. oh no, it’s actually bloody awful and deeply repugnant on about a million different levels. What a surprise, Quentin!

The story concerns grubby bandit Jed (Tomas Milian) who stumbles across Sonny (Susan George), a young woman who suddenly falls in love with this disgusting outlaw and wants him to teach her in his wild ways. Jed then responds by sexually assaulting Sonny and only stops when he discovers she is a virgin and, therefore, wouldn’t be any good as a decent shag. So not out of any moral decency but a purely selfish motivation. And this is our hero, folks!

Jed then lies down in the dirt under a cow and starts suckling at its teat like some form of overgrown…

Okay, I’m going to stop there because it all only gets worse from here on (if that was at all possible) with the entirety of this seriously ill-judged film being nothing more than a litany of Jed verbally abusing Sonny, Jed physically abusing Sonny, Jed physically and verbally abusing Sonny, Jed sexually and physically and verbally abusing Sonny before Sonny starts killing people indiscriminately then marries Jed (how sweet!) until, at the very end, Sonny finally stands up to Jed and tells Jed to stop treating her like an animal and that she is, in fact, a woman after all meaning that watching Susan George being systematically brutalised for 90 minutes has been a pro-feminist statement all this time which makes everything perfectly fine. Go team women!

Now Sergio Corbucci did make a handful of exceptional films in his time but he also made tonne of unwatchable and embarrassing shit across many genres over the years and ‘Sonny and Jed’ is Corbucci really scraping the bottom of several barrels out of sheer desperation. Likewise with Tomas Milian who turned in some strong performances in the Sixties only to then transform himself in the Seventies into The Most Disgusting Man in Italian Cinema.

Want someone to wallow in pig shit? Milian’s your guy! Want someone to suck on an unwashed cow tit? Milian’ll do it! Want someone to make a revolting idiot of themselves purely out of desperation (there’s that word cropping up again) to get noticed? Send for Milian! In short, he stopped engaging in acting and started trading purely in attention seeking shock value, and that also perfectly sums up ‘Sonny and Jed’ itself as this film is nothing more than a nasty little boy running about with his prick out.

Now some might suggest there’s sly political commentary going on here and that the film is mocking Jed’s misogynistic vulgarity but there is so much voyeuristic delight in the abuse of Sonny on display that any deeper reading comes across as utterly disingenuous. It’s like watching someone constantly inhale a vast amount of cocaine for two hours then closing with a caption reading ‘Don’t do drugs.’ It’s a cop out.

‘Sonny and Jed’ is a tasteless, crass, grubby piece of work that shows just how far in decline the Italian Western was by the early to mid Seventies and to just what lengths some filmmakers had resorted to in order to stand out from the crowd. It indulges in the most infantile forms of outré cinematic excess in place of anything of real substance and covers itself in the barest of fig leaves to justify glorifying in nasty, derivative, adolescent behaviour.

No wonder Tarantino likes it.



Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.