As a child, I’ve always ignored the western genre. Now that I’m nearly 27, I’ve been going back through the western genre ever since I saw the True Grit remake, so I have lots to owe to that film because it inspired me.
The next movie I watched was Once Upon a Time in the West. I consider that not only the greatest western ever made, but one of the greatest films ever made.
Then I moved into the Man with No Name trilogy. Fistful of Dollars is great and started it all. But the film itself is a bit archaic and not very developed. For a Few Dollars More came in next, and it totally improved upon in it in many ways. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly was a revelation for me that sits up there with Once Upon a Time in the West IMO.
The way I see them is:
OUATIW = The “Blade Runner” of Westerns.
TGBTU = The “Star Wars” of Westerns.
Since then, I’ve been going through many of them. Some duds, some gems:
The Mercenary: clearly a “gem.” Yes, the film is a llitle sloppy, but the soundtrack and some of the scenes are friggin’ awesome and define the genre. Not much of a fan of the Zapata westerns, but this one works for me.
Companeros: for me, this was a “dud,” but a dud worth seeing because it’s got some great moments. Not a fan of the Zapata westerns.
Duck, You Sucker: Mixed reaction. Parts of it were good, parts of it were “lose.” It didn’t have to be nearly 3 hours long. Again, not a fan of the Zapata westerns.
Navajo Joe: Great soundtrack at times, but another “dud” for me. Worth watching if you’re into the genre, but it doesn’t make my list.
The Hills Run Red. Some neat American influences here and some memorable aspects, but another “dud” for me overall.
Death Rides on a Horse (Wild East): This is a gem. This is everything I want in a spaghetti western. A saloon, saloon music, awesome gun fights, stare downs, cool camera movements, and Ennio Morricone. I actually yelled at the screen “F#@ Yes!” when it showed the main character shooting his gun (target practice) during the first part of the film. THAT is awesome.
The Great Silence: I’m kinda split on this movie. It’s very unconventional and brooding. The ending is…let’s just say, memorable. I wasn’t happy with the DVD letter-boxed presentation, so I’d like to watch it again when it gets a proper presentation. Either way, I don’t think this is one I’d watch frequently.
Djnago: This is a “gem” because it’s tongue-and-cheek, and has everything a spaghetti western should have. Nice Blu-ray, too.
I’ve been trying to find the “Day of Anger” “You Meet Santarna, Pray for your Death” Wild East DVDs, because I’m pretty sure I would like them, but no luck. Any help?
Tonight I finally got “The Big Gundown.” I’ll be giving that a go.
So my ranking:
- Once Upon a Time in the West
- Good Bad Ugly
- For a Few Dollars More
- Death Rides a Horse
- The Mercenary
- Fistful of Dollars
- The Great Silence
The other films I’ve mentioned don’t quite meet my list. I’m hopping to get a nice Top 10 list, and hopefully maybe a little more.