There are songs that tell stories set in the Wild West, so let’s discuss these songs. Which songs would make perfect Westerns and who would you cast in the movies?
Marty Robbins has many songs that fit into this category. I’ll name a few
El Paso: The lyrics tell a story of a man who falls in love with a Mexican girl, kills a man due to jealousy and decides to return to the girl with deadly consequences. The main character would be played by Franco Nero and the Mexican girl, Faleena by Nieves Navarro.
Five Brothers: A gambler is killed and his five sons go after the man who killed him. They manage to get their revenge but are poisoned by water from a well. The brothers would be played by Alberto Dell’Acqua, Peter Lee Lawrence, Mark Damon, Tony Anthony and Giuliano Gemma. Lee van Cleef would play the killer and the Pa of the boys would be played by William Berger
Tall handsome stranger: Tall handsome stranger arrives and challenges the deputy of the town to a duel because the deputy turned him in for his crimes. The men are brothers and the deputy wins the duel. The stranger would be played by Jack Palance and the deputy by Anthony Steffen
The cowboy in the continental suit: This could be a comedy. Terence Hill would play the fancy gentleman who buys the horse and Bud Spencer would be one of the cowboys who mock him. Later they become friends after Bud’s character is impressed by Terence’s character’s skills and they go after a gang of horse thieves.
Big Iron: An Arizona ranger arrives to hunt down an outlaw called Texas Red, and bring him in, dead or alive. Ivan Rassimov could be Texas Red and Gianni Garko as Arizona ranger would be nice
There’s a song called Hell’s Coming with Me by Poor Man’s Poison. The story of the song can be found in many Spaghs, but let’s make a new one. The town would be owned by Eduardo Fajardo and his men (including Fernando Sancho) and… who should we pick as the protagonist? Maybe Klaus Kinski, Anthony Steffen, George Eastman or Franco Nero. Or maybe even Clint Eastwood (*instant flashbacks to High Plains Drifter)
I used to listen to those Marty Robbins songs when I was a kid and loved them - ‘Big Iron’ is the stand out … so catchy and evocative. These songs really are mini westerns in their own right.
I remember being disappointed that the song ‘Ballad of the Alamo’ isn’t actually heard all the way through the rather sluggish John Wayne film … which is even harder to watch now as an adult, when you see that it’s a really corny piece of propaganda for Wayne’s political take.
Your post - the most creative one I’ve seen for quite a while -made me thinking a good bit, but I landed thinking of the song High Sheriff of Calhoun Parish by Tony Joe White. It’s set in his native Louisiana rather than the proper old west, but the time setting is rather vague, and could take place at the turn of the century just as well as the late sixties, when it was written. The story goes like this;
A young man - the narrator - has a crush on Emily, the daughter of a tyrannical county sheriff, and gets to meet her on a Saturday night dance party, where she asks him out. He refuses out of fear of getting put in prison as punishment should anything go wrong - she cruelly replies by lying to her father about the narrator molesting her, effectively sentencing him to the penitentiary. Days later, he manages to escape trough the window and takes refuge at a friend who resides in the forest.
It would probably not hold water on its own as a western - it lacks a proper ending - but it would certainly be a great set-up for one. The rest of the movie could be about something triggered by his meeting with his friend, his conflict with the sheriff, his moral decay following his unfair imprisonment, or maybe a combination of all? Besides, Emily could make a really interesting anti-villainess (or anti-heroine).
It certainly helps for me that I’ve always imagined Tony Joe White as an ideal western anti-hero. Too bad a heart attack killed him way too early a few years ago.
I also got to think about a few lines from the song “renegade” by Dr John:
I’m a runner in the jungle Renegade from the lot don’t talk to me about morality I don’t want to hear it no more.
Certainly sounds like a SW character to me.
I’m going to bed now, but I got a feeling I’ll come up with more - and better ideas. If so, I will post them tomorrow.
I could totally see Tomas Milian in the lead of a Corbucci adaption of Bob Dylan’s Romance in Durango
Edit: Thinking about it the lyrics would probably work better as the ending of the film. I think a music critic did say it sounded like the end of a Peckinpah western.
It’s implied the main character kills a guy called Ramon in a cantina, so there could be some kind of rivalry between the two which ends with Ramon’s death which in turn has allies of Ramon seeking revenge on the lead character. I suppose it would have been quite fitting if Volonte played Ramon, and I could see Giovanna Ralli playing Magdalena.
I’d have loved it if Corbucci actually did make this
There’s been tons of SW’s with a character named Ringo in them, but I often wonder how’d they do with a screenplay based on the Lorne Greene spoken word ballad Ringo.
Quite a bit of possibilities here I think: Gianni Garko or Tomas Milian as Ringo, Lee Van Cleef or Anthony Steffen as the unnamed narrator lawman, and a huge slew of other choices I’m sure all of us could think of.