Books of Frayling


(Bill san Antonio) #1

Has anyone read any of Christopher Fraylings books: “Sergio Leone: Something to do with death” or “Spaghetti westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” or “Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy”?

I’ve been thinking of getting one of them but don’t know which would be best.


(ENNIOO) #2

[quote=“Bill san Antonio, post:1, topic:542”]Has anyone read any of Christopher Fraylings books: “Sergio Leone: Something to do with death” or “Spaghetti westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” or “Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy”?

I’ve been thinking of getting one of them but don’t know which would be best.[/quote]

I have SPAGHETTI WESTERNS COWBOYS AND EUROPEANS FROM KARL MAY TO SERGIO LEONE.

It is a very intellectual kind of book in places, but a must though for any Spaghetti Western fan.

Frayling knows his stuff very well, and has plenty of interesting stories in there.

I am not really a huge fan of KARL MAY stuff or many early Spaghetti Westerns, so I found the earlier chapters on this stuff a bit boring.

SERGIO LEONE: ONCE UPON A TIME IN ITALY, is also good , but probably not as intellectual as the book just mentioned.

This book has more photographs in ( mostly in colour), and has some really impressive artwork in (mainly posters and stills) to the Leone films.

Nice book to read, and I think I read mine in a day while bored one day.

Contains some interviews with key people who Leone worked with and are fascinating to read.
One of my favourites is one with LEE VAN CLEEF (conducted in the late 70’s with now filmaker ALEX COX).

I like both of these books for different reasons, and looking foward to reading SERGIO LEONE: SOMETHING TO DO WITH DEATH.


(Stanton) #3

Something t d w D is the best available book about Leone. Also the most extensive with much details about his life and work. Very recommendable.

Once u a t i Italy is maybe basically the same with more photographs, but only basic informations. So I haven’t bought it.

The SWs book deals also to a great amount with the Leone films, but looks also on the whole genre. It’s from 1980 and I think he hasn’t seen so much of the other SWs at this time. He talks about the classic films, but it seems he hasn’t seen for example The Great Silence.
Nevertheless a valuable and also very recommendable work, and a very good addition to Something t d w Death.
Oh, and there are detailed descriptions in it of the scenes which were shot or planned to shot for OuTW.

Another very good book is Once upon a Time in the Italian West by Howard Hughes, which gives a good insight into 20 classic SWs, with interesting interpretations and many informations about their coming into being.


(ENNIOO) #4

This subject got me looking through my bookshelf, which cannot be a bad thing.

Another book I have and not to sure whether out of print or not, but I suspect it may be.

The book is called ITALIAN WESTERN THE OPERA OF VIOLENCE , by Laurence Staig and Tony Williams.
The book was first published in 1975 and is probably my personal favourite on the genre.

It really comes across in this book the authors are passionate about the subject matter.

There is a really excellent couple of chapters on Spaghetti Western film music composers, and also mentions the key films of the key directors in the genre.
There is also a photo of one of the authors with ENNIO MORRICONE.

Some nice photo’s in book which you do not see to often these days.

Perhaps not as intellectual as Frayling 's books, but a very enjoyable book to read.


(Silvanito) #5

I also have “Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” a relatively early book on spaghettis and like ENNIOO says it is very intellectual.

Perhaps a little too intellectually written, and some of the content in this book is pretty far from the actual subject of SW movies in my opinion.

I have the first issue of this book. Does the re-issue that came out a few years later differ in any way?

The other two books by Frayling I don’t have.

“Italian western the opera of violence” I have heard is very good, but is now out of print since ages. This must be the very earliest english language book on SWs. However it doesn’t cover more than ca 170 films I read somewhere, so it is far from a definitive study of the genre.

The real bible on Spaghetti Westerns must be Bruckners book, but if you don’t know any german that of course is a big disadvantage. But his book also has many pictures so it could be worth getting anyway.


(ENNIOO) #6

[quote=“Silvanito, post:5, topic:542”]I also have “Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” a relatively early book on spaghettis and like ENNIOO says it is very intellectual.

Perhaps a little too intellectually written, and some of the content in this book is pretty far from the actual subject of SW movies in my opinion.

I have the first issue of this book. Does the re-issue that came out a few years later differ in any way?

The other two books by Frayling I don’t have.

“Italian western the opera of violence” I have heard is very good, but is now out of print since ages. This must be the very earliest english language book on SWs. However it doesn’t cover more than ca 170 films I read somewhere, so it is far from a definitive study of the genre.

The real bible on Spaghetti Westerns must be Bruckners book, but if you don’t know any german that of course is a big disadvantage. But his book also has many pictures so it could be worth getting anyway.[/quote]

Yes, it is true about what you say about THE ITALIAN WESTERN THE OPERA OF VIOLENCE.

But the book covers most of the key Spaghetti Westerns made before 1975, and is written with such passion.

So, still a worthwhile book,but the chances of finding a copy may be slim after what Silvanito has said.

I know there are still some good Spaghetti Westerns made after 1975, but referring to the majority.

Bruckners book sounds interesting, but like you say, shame it is in german only.


(Silvanito) #7

Yes I have Bruckners book, it’s excellent, but I know some german and that helps of course.

Does anyone have the books “Western All’Italiana” Volume 1, 2 and 3?

They seem pretty interesting, and they have both italian and english text.


(ENNIOO) #8

[quote=“Silvanito, post:7, topic:542”]Yes I have Bruckners book, it’s excellent, but I know some german and that helps of course.

Does anyone have the books “Western All’Italiana” Volume 1, 2 and 3?

They seem pretty interesting, and they have both italian and english text.[/quote]

No, I do not have, but I have glanced through one once (cannot remember which volume), and they really do have some lovely photo’s in, and the volume had a forward by Franco Nero if I recall correctly.

I think when I next see one at a good price, a purchase may be in order.


(The Halitosis Kid) #9

Yes “Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” is great, it does spend a lot of time putting SWs in context as well as detailing Italian Cinema that led up to the SW, it even goes on about Superman quite a bit, brilliant read though and extremely informative.

I have the first issue of this book. Does the re-issue that came out a few years later differ in any way?
The book has been updated twice (1998 & 2005) since its first release, the main text hasn't been altered, there are two new Prefaces added to correct mistakes and make updates. It is amazing to think Frayling wrote this book at a time when these films weren't even readily available on video. It's still an essential purchase IMO.
Burt Kennedy talk to John Ford [i]Films in Review[/i] (January 1969) John Ford: I love to make westerns. If I had my choice, that's all I would make. Burt Kennedy: Have you seen any of these Spanish or Italian Westerns? John ford: You're kidding! Burt Kennedy: No, they have them and a few have been popular. John Ford: What are they like? Burt Kennedy: No story, no scenes. Just killing.

(Bill san Antonio) #10

I just received “Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone” this morning. I’ts a massive book with loads of b/w pictures. Seems like a good purchase.


(Yodlaf Peterson) #11

i have these books but i do find the reading of them a bit heavy.


(Phil H) #12

Opera of Violence is an excellent book. As it’s title suggests it concerns itself mainly with the use and importance of music in the Italian western. I picked it up years ago and is a prize possesion. If you can get it second hand it is well worth buying.


(Yodlaf Peterson) #13

The opera of violence is an excellent book, but it is not by Frayling it is by Laurence Staig and Tony Williams :wink:


(Phil H) #14

We obviously have our wires crossed here. My fault. I was responding to an older comment from Ennioo where he was talking about Opera of Violence. You are right of course, this book is by Staig and Williams. But on the subject of ‘Cowboys and Europeans’, I know what you mean about it being a bit heavy going. It’s because Frayling is an academic and he writes like one. It’s worth sticking with it though as he has interesting things to say and he has championed the genre for a long time.


(ENNIOO) #15

Glad you like Opera of Violence!


(Bill san Antonio) #16

Noticed funny error on “Karl May to Sergio Leone”. In the page 80 there’s pictures from Django but one of them is clearly from Massacre Time. But there’s also another picture with Jose Bodalo and Angel Alvarez and the text above the pic says “a Mexican heavy, accompanied by a dwarf, prepares to show the town who is boss”

a dwarf! LOL


(Phil H) #17

Just picked up a copy of Frayling’s Once Upon a Time in Italy.
Lots of good pictures and interesting interviews with various key figures from the Leone films plus a good interview with Scorcese where he discusses Leone and the influence OUATITW had on his own work.
It would appear the book is basically a companion to the exhibition held at the Autry Museum in L.A a couple of years ago.
Worth getting for sure.


(Earl McGraw) #18

I’ve read Something to do with Death twice now and like it alot. Like in almost every biography I’ve read now I like the parts about the working artist much more than the part about the young artist but that’s only logical 'cause you read the book because you like Leone. Not because you wanna know more about Rome in the first half of the last century…


(Hud) #19

Some time ago I checked out from the first edition of SPAGHETTI WESTERNS what Frayling had to say about DJANGO, KILL! except the infamous “murderers were roasted over slow fire, animal disembowelled, men blinded, children shot, and bits of human anatomy were strewn all over the dusty main street” description that doesn’t correlate with any known version of the film, cut or uncut.

In his D,K! synopsis Frayling says that the townspeople of “the Unhappy Place” are “led by a storekeeper called Hagerman, who is extremely fond of his pet parrot”. Well, there’s a parrot in the movie, but the storekeeper does not have one… :slight_smile: Then again, I don’t think it was Frayling’s intention to really enlighten the world about obscure spaghetti westerns, even the most exceptional ones. The D,K! stuff is in the book as part of Frayling’s theory about narrative variants of Django westerns (e.g. films that have Django in the title) that must have been written primarily for the academic readers.

The back cover promises that SPAGHETTI WESTERNS “will appeal to students of film and film-buffs - even to fans of Clint Eastwood” and this phrasing tells something about Frayling’s priorities back then… :wink:


(Jack Burns) #20

I realize this is an old thread, but in the interest of continuity, I thought it best to go ahead and post here.

I read Sergio Leone: Once Upon a Time in Italy first, and completely enjoyed it. It’s the perfect coffee table book, since it’s full of cool photos, is really an excellent, light read, and it perfectly matches our red table. It’s the sort of work the average fan enjoys, especially the interviews and insights from people actually involved in the production and period.

This week, I finally decided to tackle Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone.

Chances are good I’ll be on Chapter Three sometime before December, and I have a degree in English Literature. I do know how to read…

It’s laborious and not well written in my opinion. Well, not bad. It just could have been much better. Not that it doesn’t contain a lot of interesting information. It certainly does, and since I’m a huge fan, I’ll read the entire book, make notes and go back to it as a reference over the years. You just have pick through Frayling’s endless rambling, which includes unnecessary descriptions of scenes. He’ll being a sentence discussing one subject, then jump entirely to another, back to the original and then get lost in 300 words of gobbledegook.

This happens when you get lost between two worlds. On one hand, he’s trying to write an academic-type of work (less the footnotes) but sell it to mass audiences. So, what you end up with is an unnecessarily long movie review. And we all know how movie reviewers write. Too many words, a lot of abstract reasoning, etc. Get on with it. Make your point.

As my high school English literature teacher used to say “Don’t use a lot of unnecessary words when writing. Make your point, and make it interesting, with as few words as possible.”

He would have been better off going the academic route and inserting the footnotes. Otherwise, too much of it ends up being simply his “opinion.”

Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough to grasp it, but I grasped Coleridge and Keats pretty well.