The same goes for me, to much work to be done.
My copy has arrived, but it’s a present for my birthday, Jun 17th, so I’ll have to wait a few weeks
This is a fun book to dip into. I always liked Alex Cox’s Moviedrome intros, and these short essays on a range of influential westerns have the same blend of intelligence and dry wit. All the classics are present and correct - Keoma is a surprising omission - but he also makes a case for less well-known films such as Black Jack and California. It’s interesting to have a film-maker’s perspective on the genre (although he often forgets to explain technical jargon to non-specialists), and he rounds off the book with an insightful comparison between the origins and appeal of the Spaghetti Western and the Jacobean revenge tragedy.
He does tend to gallop off on his political hobby-horse from time to time - especially when discussing The Price of Power - and he’s really got it in for Clint Eastwood for some reason, which at one point obliges him to pretend that Django the Bastard is a better film than High Plains Drifter. But all in all, this is an enjoyable read and a valuable resource for any fan.
i’m about 3/4 of the way through the book and i’ve always thought Alex Cox is a nice down to earth man. he is an obvious fan of SW’s and the first part of the book is fine until he gets to the section on the good the bad and the ugly and as extranjero says he seems to have it in for Clint Eastwood for some reason who he hardly has anything good to say about and perhaps partly explained that by saying in one section that being a director he hates actors that direct.while i agree with a lot of films he praises and he is of course entitled to his opinon, i like his comments on blackjack, california and his less than enthusastic take on “they call me trinity” i certainly don’t agree that " Django the bastard" is a better film than “High Plains Drifter” although Eastwood obviously copied it in places.the book is easily readable and does what it’s supposed to entertains and invites discussion but isn’t perfect.
Couldn’t agree more.
It is equal parts incite and opinion written by someone who is passionate about the subject. As I was reading it I found myself agreeing and disagreeing in equal proportion but always finding it interesting and in some places genuinely funny. It doesn’t set itself up to be an encyclopaedia. It’s a very personal take and therefore begs for discussion and argument. Which, after all, is what we all like best.
Yeah, it’s not something like the “definite” book about SWs, but it’s an entertaining addition to Hughes, Frayling or the German books I have. Fun to read.
Actually, I’m not so sure he did.
I don’t think there’s any argument that Joe Kidd was inspired by The Great Silence - not just the Mauser pistol and the wintry setting, but the whole premise of the outlaws turning out to be the good guys and the rich landowner being revealed as the baddie. You’ve even got the bounty hunters threatening to execute hostages if the outlaws don’t surrender. But Joe Kidd was scripted by Elmore Leonard, a great western writer in his own right. Maybe someone should ask him where he got the idea from.
With High Plains Drifter, you could point to inspiration from the original Django (the character of Mordechai is very reminiscent of Nathaniel in Corbucci’s film), and even from Sartana, which has a similar opening shot and a sinister hero who comes and goes like a ghost. In Ernest Tidyman’s novelisation of his own screenplay for Drifter, the Stranger even dresses up as an undertaker for the final showdown! But Django the Bastard seems to me to have made no contribution to the latter film. And that’s before we get into the debate about whether the Drifter is really a ghost, or just Marshall Duncan’s brother …
Great review, Phil, on AC’s book and thanks for your efforts. Can’t wait to read the book now. Not available here until September, I think.
I bought the book from the Bookdepository (free delivery worldwide ,akes it more interesting). I read it during my holiday and I had fun reading the book. Nice to read about somebody’s professional opinion of the Spaghetti’s.
I fully agree with the book review of Phil H.
I have pretty much the same question that I…I…Idiot asked a few pages back. I’ve been hoping to locate a good book of film analysis on spaghetti westerns. Not personally interested in a picture book or a book which gives standard plot recap reviews to lots of films. Prefer something more indepth and academic. But I consider it central to understanding these films to place them in the context of time and place where they were made.
Is Mr. Cox’ tome the book for me? Or does someone have a different recommendation?
And thanks to Phil for the review and interview!
Finally decided to purchase Mr Cox’ tome and enjoyed it so much I found I had finished it in two days.
I think the most important section of the book is the afterword.
I find it odd that he cast Corbucci as almost as important to the genre as Leone but then dislikes (and often vehemently dislikes) all of his movies apart from Django and The Great Silence.
He does a little of what I find myself doing on the forum, nitpicking at major quality films and ignoring glaring weaknesses of smaller films.
I wish he had gone into more depth in his reviews/critiques of the films. For some of them I thought to myself Phil’s Son of Django website reviews are just as (if not more) insightful.
Yes, that’s my minor quibble with the book is Mr Cox is a director and an academic, yet he explicitly refuses to discuss the films from a technical or academic perspective. And a combination of the two would have appealed to me the most. So, we end up with yet another book of plot synopses and whether the author did or did not enjoy the films. I suppose this approach reaches the widest audience and brings more fans of the dollars trilogy to seek out other films such as Silence of Cemetery Without Crosses and that’s a good thing. But perhaps does the reader the disservice of giving an incomplete reading of the films, of not challenging us to a deeper level of understanding and appreciation.
Just ordered the book. Hopefully I’ll get it next week.
I still say in spite of several glaring errors (which I found more humorous than irritating), Cox’s book is highly entertaining.
I recommend it.
It will be interesting to find out what you think of it, amigo!
I think the section on Return of Ringo where he discusses the technical skill needed to shoot the party in the house sequence was probably the most inciteful in terms of getting the value of his experienced eye as a director. I’ve often enjoyed that scene but Alex’s description of it’s set up from a technical aspect gave me something new to appreciate.
I agree with you Phil. That’s a sequence that had not jumped out at me when I initially watched it, but reading Cox’ book made me want to go back and view it again. Nicely done.
I finished the book last night and I have kinda mixed feelings about it. I enjoyed the first half very much and I really liked his way of writing, easily readable and you can sense the enthusiasm about the subject. Chapter about Fistful of Dollars is the best part of the book imo, though he repeats the old Hays Code myth about forbidden shot where shooter and the victim are both present in same shot. Mostly I agreed his views, he appreciates the uniqueness of Bandidos, picked Colt’s Shadow as a fine example of early sw, doesn’t have a bad thing to say about CWC. And I don’t really appreciate Johnny Oro or Navajo Joe either.
But towards the end I was getting more and more annoyed by few things, Like Mortimer I find it strange that he focuses on Corbucci but apart from Django and The Great Silence he doesn’t like his movies that much. He ignores Sonny & Jed, last Corbucci masterpiece, by saying less written about it better. His mockery of Tony Anthony, though understandable, is really irritating. If he doesn’t care for his films why he doesn’t just ignore them, I found the constant mockery disgraceful.
Also, why instead of writing more about some great late sw’s he has included two non westerns, the awfully boring Don’t touch the White Women and Closed Circuit (though Closed circuit sounds interesting film and I never heard about it before)
One thing that bothered me little too, though I know it’s minor and stupid, is his using of alternative titles no-one else usually uses. I know he prefers the title Big Silence instead of The Great Silence but also Apache instead of Vengeance Trail (which has lots of english titles but that’s the one I had never heard),Shanghai Joe he calls To Kill or Die etc. Minor thing but little distracting, at least it was for me.
Good book, but easy to quibble. A little editing could have made it a better book. For example it got to the point where I had to laugh every time he compared an SW to the work of Luis Bunuel. He did it over and over and everytime there was no resemblance at all. Kind of like name dropping Bunuel was a fancy way of saying something was odd.
But what the heck. I enjoyed it for what it was and Cox never pretended it was an academic look at these films.
Still think the final section was the most important part of the book.
You mean the comparison between Spaghetti Westerns and Jacobean theatre?
Picked this book up at my (not so) local library. An interesting read but sometimes, I am frusterated with it as Cox has GBU as his 3rd favorite Spaghetti but seems to bash on it pretty good. Basically calling most of the scenes pointless and boring. complaining about the length. The uncut version is too long and pointless for him but the cut versions aren’t enough. Not very fair. While he gives pretty much all around praise for OUATITW which in itself, is about as “flawed” as a GBU according to his criteria. His rating of Tony Anthony is a little unfair. Calling him chubby and double chinned. Maybe later he had some meat on his face but he always seemed pretty scrawny to me.
You know, if I ever become a deputy, I’m going to get rid of this thread 'cause there is already one for it.