Articles


(korano) #1

I suppose this is a plea to the regular contributors to try there hands at writing an article. Most of the noteworthy database contributions go to film reviews but if we are to be the go to guys on the Spaghetti Western genre, we need more articles to go along with the film reviews. Beyond just listing english titles and such. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) I’ve been writing articles but when I run out of ideas, I write about unimportant stuff and maybe they don’t come out so good. Anybody care to write a full article about some aspect of the Spaghetti Western?

Also, does anybody have any ideas or requests for articles? I have lots of spare time.

thanks


(Sebastian) #2

maybe you can overhaul the whole “introduction” page/article.
or… articles about the locations, about the time the movies where made, about stunt people, cameramen, about the women (SENORITAS! we love those) etc…


(scherpschutter) #3

I planned to write a ‘history’ of the genre.

I’m currently compiling info on A Fistful of Dollars (its case history) and the pre-Leone area (planned to do the Hossein proto-Zapata Le goût de la Violence for example)
My work on the Karl May movies are part of this work too; there will be notes on the KM movies in the main text, with links to the movie reviews etc.
But this is all time consuming work of course, you don’t write a decent history within a few weeks.
(By the way: some of the things korano has written are very useful to me in this regard)

The introduction page needs some re-writing
Mind that an introduction must be a) as informative as possible, but b) not too long

It’s probably wise to post a first draught here, so others can comment on it and/or add or remove info


(Silvanito) #4

A new intro page would be welcome, so it’s good that you’ve started that Scherp

I like your articles aswell korano, the one on SW comedies was really nice, and also the one on odd SWs


(korano) #5

Thank you.

@Scherschutter
A pre leone article is a great idea. Sebastian proposed it to me while I was writing other articles. But I haven’t seen any and you are the right man for the job.

I’m outlining a aricle on British Spaghetti Westerns. I have to see Captain Apache before any real work begins. I wonder how good the movie will be? ::slight_smile:


(korano) #6

I think it would be good to compile a list a future articles. Just to see reactions. Maybe help or suggestions.

British Spaghetti Westerns - Inlcudes infoon films such as Town Called Hell, Pancho Villa, Hunting Party, Captain Apache, etc…

Gothic Spaghetti Westerns - With Vengeance, And God Said to Cain, Mannaja, Keoma, California (?),etc…

Zapata Spaghetti Westerns- Bullet for the General, The Mercenary, Companeros, Duckk You Sucker, What am I Doing in the Middleof the Revolution.

That’s all I could think of right now.But I also have ideas for articles on the works of specific directors. example title would be “TheWesterns of Sergio Leone.” Focusingon the directors films, not their biography.

The Westerns of Sergio Leone
The Westernsof Sergio Corbucci
The Westerns of Sergio Sollima
The Westerns of Tonino Valerii
The Westerns of Michele Lupo
etc…


(Spaghetti Monkey) #7

I’m outlining a aricle on British Spaghetti Westerns. I have to see Captain Apache before any real work begins. I wonder how good the movie will be? ::slight_smile:
[/quote]

It’s big monkey fun, as long as you don’t take it to seriously. I’m fairly certain they weren’t taking it to seriously when they made it.


(alk0) #8

This sounds like something i might write about in the future, just let me check out few Zapatas that i haven’t seen


(korano) #9

Good. I tried writing one but nothing came of it. At least not with my format.


(korano) #10

Ok, I have written a rough draft of the intro revision butI want to know if anybody else plans to write a new intro (Scherp?) so I’ll post the rough draft here before loading it up. If and when Scherp does a revision, we shall compare and contrast. (My worst nightmare! Being put up against Scherpschutter!) :’( And I’m not kidding!

What is a Spaghetti Western?

The Spaghetti-Western is a sub genre of the Western film. They are titled Spaghetti westerns because they were made by Italian film companies. And a popular Italian dish is pasta, or spaghetti. Beyond the titular differences, the Spaghetti Westerns were different than American Westerns in that they were often far more stylish and violent. More attention was given to action than to dialogue. They are known for their violence and overall graphic nature. Most of these films were shot in the Spanish province of Andalucia. Specifically, Andalucia’s desert region, Almeria. Almeria was the closest Europe came visualy to the look and feel of the old South West. The genre had started around the year 1961 with the Spanish shot, British western, Savage Guns/Tierre Brutale. But the style of the Spaghetti Western was defined by Sergio Leone and his Dollars Trilogy with Clint Eastwood. This set the trend for the films to come. The genre’s output slowed by 1969 and was dead by 1973 due to the increase of mocking western comedies. But after the Golden Years came the twilight years and with Keoma (1976), the Spaghetti Western had a brief return but very soon did it die once again. For good.

What is it about Spaghetti Westerns?

Spaghetti Westerns are far more violent and exciting than American Westerns. They focus mostly on action and refrain from extensive dialogue. This is not true for all Spaghetti Westerns but for the bulk. Another difference are the themes. American Westerns often seem to try and glorify America and it’s westward expansion with films such as They Died with Their Boots On, The Alamo, and Rio Bravo. But many of the Spaghetti Westerns are allegories on the failed politics of the US. Many seem anti American and some even seem to side more with the Communist’s beliefs than the Capitalists. They would sooner side with peasants than side with aristocrats. Also, in American Westerns, the scenario mostly involves “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” They portray the main protaganist as white hatted heroes with very few black marks. In the Italian West, the hero is a dark, troubled, violent, depressed, and careless man who is often possessed with hatred and vengeance. He is an anti hero and often cares more for money than innocent lives. He is far more realistic when it comes to human nature but his skillswith a gun cross over into the superhuman territory. The Spaghetti Western is more action packed, more involving, and more eye catching than the American Western. This is why we love them so.

What Shoud I Watch First?

If this introduction has done it’s purpose and actually interested you in this great genre, then you will need a good place to start in your viewing of the genre. Beyond the list below, I recommend exaing our Staff Picks and top 20 list for films unanimously liked.

  1. The Sergio Leone films: It would be a wasteof space to list these films indivually, so here they are all at once. Leone is the most celebrated director of the genre and his films are not only the most accesible, stylish, and beautiful, but they are also the best examples of the genre. All of his films are available in both Region 1 and Region 2 formats.

  2. Django: The film which further defined the genre’s style with violence and atmosphere. It also cemented the genre’s popularity in Europe. As well as the genre’s infamy with violence and darkness. It also catapulted the film’s star, Franco Nero, to stardom. Available in both Region 1 and Region 2 formats.

  3. The Great Silence: Called one of the best if not the best Spaghetti Western there is. It goes against many western characteristics beyond the inclusion of an anti hero. It is set in snow and has an ending so shocking, that it will leave your mouth open.

  4. Matalo: The weirdest film of the genre and a good film to watch if you are interested in exploring the border region of the Spaghetti Western. Seeing how far this film differs from the main stream is incredible. Also a good film for drug addicts.

  5. They Call Me Trinity: The first through and through comedy spaghetti western. Also the film that destroyed the genre.

  6. The Big Gundown: Lee Van Cleef’s first Spaghetti after the Leone films. Also one of the most famous of the political spaghetti western. And a good place to start for Tomas Milian Spaghettis.

  7. Day of Anger: A perfect example of both a Lee Van Cleef Spaghetti and Giuliano Gemma Spaghetti. Not to mention Tonino Valerii

  8. Death Rides a Horse: Another favorite of genre fans is a great film to start with the Vengeance themes that are rampant throughout the genre.

  9. And God Said to Cain: One of the finest examples of a Gothic Western. Especially noteworthy for having Klaus Kinski play a hero.

  10. Keoma: A perfect example of the melacholic Twilight Spaghetti Westerns of the late 70’s as well as being a great film with equally great performances from genre regulars including Franco Nero and WilliamBerger.


(Stanton) #11

To 1.

Roughly said about 60 or 70% of the SWs were shot solely in Italy. Only the spanish ones and the higher budgeted italian ones were shot in Spain. And parts of the last group were also shot in Italy for interiors.

To 2.

I don’t like this confrontation between american and SWs, which often describes the american westerns in a rather simplifying way. Even before 1960 the US western was a rather big varying bunch of films.
And it was always a dirty and violent genre (for the time they were made), at least in their superior examples (if we ignore the flood of b-pictures). And it was excactly these type of films which the italians, and the rest of the world, were fascinated by. And there was always much more in them than only "a man’s gotta do…"
Of course there are enough rather clean looking US westerns, but there are also much more rather clean looking Spagies than one might think.

Rio Bravo for example is not a western who glorifies the US (at leat not in an easy or typical way) and surely not their westward expansion.

There are of course huge differences between Spags and US westerns, but it’s more complicated to name them than it appears at first glimpse.

I wouldn’t write it that way Korano. It feels wrong for me.


(alk0) #12

[quote=“Stanton, post:11, topic:1580”]To 2.

I don’t like this confrontation between american and SWs, which often describes the american westerns in a rather simplifying way. Even before 1960 the US western was a rather big varying bunch of films.
And it was always a dirty and violent genre (for the time they were made), at least in their superior examples (if we ignore the flood of b-pictures). And it was excactly these type of films which the italians, and the rest of the world, were fascinated by. And there was always much more in them than only "a man’s gotta do…"
Of course there are enough rather clean looking US westerns, but there are also much more rather clean looking Spagies than one might think.

Rio Bravo for example is not a western who glorifies the US (at leat not in an easy or typical way) and surely not their westward expansion.

There are of course huge differences between Spags and US westerns, but it’s more complicated to name them than it appears at first glimpse.

I wouldn’t write it that way Korano. It feels wrong for me.[/quote]
Agreed.
I think you should also add an example of Zapata western to the ‘What Shoud I Watch First?’ list.


(Stanton) #13

Oh yes, in such a list The Mercenary is of course a must, and maybe also Quien sabe!


(alk0) #14

Tepepa, not Quien sabe :wink:


(Stanton) #15

[quote=“korano, post:10, topic:1580”]4. Matalo: The weirdest film of the genre and a good film to watch if you are interested in exploring the border region of the Spaghetti Western. Seeing how far this film differs from the main stream is incredible. Also a good film for drug addicts.

  1. They Call Me Trinity: The first through and through comedy spaghetti western. Also the film that destroyed the genre.

  2. And God Said to Cain: One of the finest examples of a Gothic Western. Especially noteworthy for having Klaus Kinski play a hero.[/quote]

As much as I like God/Cain and especially Matalo, I wouldn’t choose them for beginners. If you like to include an example for weird Spags Django Kill is the more prominent, the more thoughtful, the more important film.
I would even say it’s in its unique way the only non Leone and Corbucci film which I would add to a small basic list of the most important SWs.

In the years before They Call Me Trinity several comedy Spags were already made. Apart from the pure parodies from the Franco & Ciccio team there were films like Last Train to Durango and especially the 2 Gemma efforts A Sky Full of Stars for a Roof and Alive or Preferably Dead. The last 2 are clearly very similar in their structure to the Trinity films and were also very successful. A Sky … is mainly a comedy despite a violent beginning and a shootout at the end and Alive … is without any doubt a through and through comedy.

And calling They Call Me Trinity a destroyer of the genre is too much honour for it. The genre was dying anyway with or without a comedy boom. The Trinity movies didn’t destroy the genre, they in fact partly renewed it. Only that there weren’t much interesting films made in the wake of their success. But that’s not the fault of Enzo Barboni, that the trend he set was mainly followed by painfully unfunny comedies.


(scherpschutter) #16

I made an essentials list for lordradish’s site once, including 20 titles
(Lordradish calls it a top 20, but that was not my intention, some of my favourite films like Bandidos or Tepepa are not on the list)
The texts are a little difficult to read , it happened before that the ‘genetive s’ (like in people’s) causes problems.

http://fistfulofpasta.com/index.php?go=articles/top20a

http://fistfulofpasta.com/index.php?go=articles/top20b


(Phil H) #17

To be honest Korano for me too much of what you have written here is based on one opinion. A perfectly valid opinion let me point out but for something which is designed as an introduction to the genre for the database I’m not sure it is appropriate. If this was more of a ’ Korano’s Guide to the Spaghetti Western’ I think it would be absolutely fine.

However, I appreciate that you have opened this article up for discussion before publishing which means you obviously are keen for others’ input. In that vein, I would suggest directing people to the Top 20 for a list of films to watch along with the staff favourites page. This is a good indication of what is widely popular as well as offering a few personal choices. As for the descriptive passages, I would steer away from some of the more blanket statements as highlighted by Stanton’s feedback above.

Hope I am not sounding too negative. You are doing a good job and it is much appreciated.


(korano) #18

It’s ok. Just a roughdraft and hopefuly Scherp will have something. No pressure on him though.

Personally, I don’t see much wrong with the already established intro but I guess some of us think it should be redone.


(scherpschutter) #19

I have been working yesterday on a new text for the introduction page

Still checking some details (and adding others)

I’ll publish the provisional text here later today


(scherpschutter) #20

(Introduction)

Welcome to our BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE SPAGHETTI WESTERN. Start reading here if you are new to the genre and find yourself confused by the sheer overwhelming number of films.

==What is a Spaghetti Western?==

The spaghetti western is a European sub-genre of the western. The genre was born in the first half of the sixties and prospered, with ups and downs, until the second half of the seventies. It got its name from the fact that most of them were directed and produced by Italians, often in collaboration with other European countries, especially Spain. The name ‘spaghetti western’ originally was a depreciative term, given by foreign critics to these films that were thought of to be inferior to American westerns. Many of these films were made with low budgets and limited artistic pretentions. In the eighties the reputation of the sub-genre grew and today the term is no longer used disparagingly, although some Italians still prefer to call the films ‘western all’italiana’ (westerns Italian style). In Japan they are called Macaroni westerns. European westerns that were predominantly Spanish are often called paella westerns, those predominantly German Sauerkraut westerns

==What’s special about it?==

It’s often thought that the genre arose in response to the enormous success of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars/Per un pugno di Dollari (1964), an adaptation of a Japanese movie called Yojimbo (Akira Kurosawa, 1961). In fact several Italian westerns had been produced previously, like Buffalo Bill, l’eroe del Far West or Duello nel Texas (both in 1963). Moreover the Spanish Zorro movies and the successful German-Yugoslavian Karl May adaptations had created a cultural context for a large scale European western production. Ironically the first European western that had the right ingredients to be called a ‘spaghetti western’, was made without Italian input, being a British-Spanish coproduction: The Savage Guns/Tierra Brutal (Michael Carreras, 1962). But it sure was Leone who defined the look and attitude of the genre, with his first western and the two that soon were to follow: For a Few Dollars more/Per Qualche Dollaro in più (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly/Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo. Together these films are called ‘The Dollar Trilogy’. Leone’s West was a dusty wasteland of whitewashed villages, howling winds, scraggy dogs wandering through spooky ghost towns, of cynical heroes, as unshaven as the villains, and Clint Eastwood wearing a poncho and chewing on the stub of a cigar. All three films were scored by Ennio Morricone, and his scores were as unusual as Leone’s visuals: not only did he use instruments like the trumpet, the harp or the electric guitar, he also added whistle, cracking whips and gunshots to the concoction, described by a critic as a ‘rattlesnake in a drumkit’.

In general spaghetti westerns are more action oriented than their American counterparts. Dialogue is sparse and some critics have pointed out that they are constructed as operas, using the music as an illustrative ingredient of the narrative. Like professor of cultural studies Christopher Frayling has said the western from a long time past had been called a horse opera, but it took the Italians to show what the term really meant. For the time of making many spaghetti westerns were quite violent, and several of them met with censorship problems, but it was more the cynical atmosphere and the intense style of film making that alarmed censors than any possible graphic nature of the violence shown. Spaghetti westerns were not very gory, squibs – those things that produce the effect of squirting blood – were used only occasionally. Many spaghetti westerns have an American-Mexican border setting and feature loud and sadistic Mexican bandits. The Civil War and its aftermath is a recurrent background. Instead of regular names such as Will Kane or Ethan Edwards, the heroes often have bizarre names like Ringo, Sartana, Sabata, Johnny Oro, Arizona Colt or Django. The genre is unmistakably a catholic genre (some other names in use are Haleluja, Cemetary, Trinity or Holy Water Joe!), its strong visual and symbolic style strongly influenced by the catholic iconography of, for instance, the crucifixion, the last supper or the ecce homo. The surreal extravanganza Django Kill!/Se sei vivo, spara (1967), by Giulio Questi, a former assistant of Fellini (!)has a resurrected hero who witnesses a reflection of Judgment Day in a dusty western town.

==A brief history==

# The Glory Years: 1966 - 1968
In this rather brief period most of films that have become classics were made. In 1966 Leone made The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, now considered by many to be the best western (not only spaghetti western) ever made, while his crown prince, Sergio Corbucci (often called ‘the other Sergio’) made the ground-breaking Django, that became the prototype of the vengeance tale, and spawned numerous films with ‘Django’ in its title. In 1968 these two directors brought the genre two more indisputable masterpieces: Leone made the legendry Once upon a Time in the West/C’era una Volta il West, the first spaghetti western to attract the attention of so-called ‘serious’ critics, and Corbucci made the devastating The Great Silence/Il Grande Silenzio, that was entirely set in the snow and subverted virtually all genre conventions, among them the often heard cliché that in a western the good guy always wins.

Another director from the golden period of the genre, is Sergio Sollima (‘the third Sergio’), the most intellectual and politically committed of all spaghetti western directors. His The Big Gundown/La Resa dei Conti (with Lee van Cleef, who had also appeared in two of the three Dollar movies) is a tale about class struggle as well as a deconstruction of the mythology of the law-upholding gunslinger. Face to face/Faccia a Faccia is the story of a New England college professor, who travels down south and discovers his violent instincts when he’s held hostage by a bandit. The professor is played by Gian Maria Volonté, another Leone veteran, who also appeared in A Bullet for the General /Quién sabe? (1966, Damiano Damiani), that set the tone for a series of political westerns set in Mexico during of the several Mexican revolutions, the so-called ‘Zapata westerns’. The bandit is played by Cuban-American actor Tomas Milian, who would appear in many Zapata westerns as a Mexican farmer turned revolutionary. Set in Mexico, and filmed in a baroque western style, the Zapata westerns nevertheless seemed more concerned with European than American (North or Latin) politics. In the sixties Marxist ideas were wide-spread among European intellectuals, especially in the Mediterranean countries, and the Zapata westerns seem to reflect the revolutionary ideas that lived among them.

1969 showed a decline in the number of westerns produced, and a tendency to parody the genre, already announced in the previous years, became more apparent, especially in the Sartana movies, often called the answer of the spaghetti western to the Bond movies.

# The Comedy Period
In 1970 Enzo Barboni, who had been Corbucci’s cinematographer for Django, made They call me Trinity/Lo chiamavano Trinità. What had been parody had now become slapstick and the film became a smash hit all over the world. It also marked the start of a new golden period, if not for the spaghetti western, than at least for the Italian film industry. Numerous comedy westerns were produced and the actors Terence Hill and Bud Spencer both became international stars. In general fans of the spaghetti western genre are not so fond of these comedies, but the Trinity movies are good fun and the second one, Trinity is still my name/Continuavano a chiamarlo Trinità was the most successful Italian western ever upon its initial release.

Although dominated by the comedy westerns, a few serious westerns were made in the first half of the seventies. Both Corbucci (Compañeros/Vamos a matar, compañeros) and Leone (Duck you Sucker!/Giù la testa) made a Zapata western. My Name is Nobody/Il Mio nome è Nessuno, directed by Tonino Valerii (supervised by Leone), is a serio-comical reverie about the end of the West. Some films were of fuse of spaghetti western elements and Hong Kong martial arts movies, with usually a eastern fighting star dropped in the Far West, but none of these films became a real classic.

# The Twilight Spaghettis
When it all seemed over, the genre had its last upswing with the so-called Twilight Spaghettis, blood-serious, very stylish and melancholic westerns, glorifying (and mourning) both the end of the genre as well as the decay of the Italian industry of genre movies. The films were partly shot in the – by then ramshackle - western towns of the Roman studios that had produced dozens of westerns each year in the previous decade. Two of the best twilight spaghettis are Michele Lupo’s California, with Giuliano Gemma, one of Italy’s first and biggest stars of the genre, and Keoma, made by the prolific director Enzo G. Castellari, and starring Franco Nero, who had played Django one decade earlier.

==Today==

A new generation of film makers, represented by the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Roberto Rodriguez have rediscovered and embraced the genre, introducing story elements in their own film scripts and developing a visual style that was influenced by the Italians maestros from the sixties. At the same time veteran film makers like Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg and of course Clint Eastwood have confirmed their great admiration for Sergio Leone, who is now universally recognized as one of the greatest film makers who ever lived. The introduction of the DVD has meant a lot for the genre too. For the first time new generations could see those films in their full widescreen beauty, and although there still are things to desire, the most important films are now available on DVD.

Check out or Top 20 or our Staff Favorites for some inspiration