Spaghetti Westerns at the Crossroads (Austin Fisher, ed.)


When I think of Irishness in Italian Westerns, I think of Frank Wolff playing an Irishman in Once Upon a Time in the West.


Published in International Westerns: Re-Locating the Frontier (2014), right? Two years later, in Spaghetti Westerns at the Crossroads, Wong merely rephrases:

“If Leone started his career as an assistant director to Soldati on two Salgari films, book-ending the relationship between Salgari’s adventure novels and the western all’italiana are the six episodes of the TV mini-series Sandokan, directed by Sergio Sollima in 1976.” (p. 81)


And of James Coburn in Giù la testa, playing Sean, an anachronistic IRA man; although, as Frayling somewhat sardonically concedes, “Coburn – fair, laid-back, lanky, detached – was not everyone’s idea of an Irishman” (p. 37).


Speaking as an Irishman … how can anyone non Irish dare to write such nonsense. These essays seem to be looking for controversy where none exists.

I’d say that all nationalities featured in these films are stereotyped and larger than life.

I have no problem with the depiction of Brett McBain or John Mallory … the characters are broad and entertaining … it’s the accents that ‘WE’ natives find hilarious.


The phrase “Duck, you sucker” only sounds cool in an exaggerated baritone Irish accent.


Yep … old Coburn is super cool in this one.

If more Irishmen were this laid back, we’d have a much happier society.

Mind you, JC was stoned all the time because of crippling arthritis in his hands ( Got that from a first hand source )

(Novecento) #27

Yup that’s the one - I don’t have a copy of the book, just the article

At least his last name “Coburn” was Celtic/Gaelic in origin (albeit Scottish not Irish)


To be fair, in his essay “The Quiet Man Gets Noisy” Frayling convincingly argues that Sergio Leone’s perception of “Irishness” was almost entirely informed by the films of John Ford, in particular by The Quiet Man, The Informer and his cavalry Westerns (cf. Victor McLaglen), and that Leone accordingly appropriated Ford’s stereotypes and clichés concerning Ireland and Americans with Irish roots for his own films (“a reflection of a reflection, the other’s other” [p. 44]). Hence his decision to dye Frank Wolff’s hair red in C’era una volta il West. James Coburn then, on the other hand, could hardly have complied with Leone’s stereotyped image of an Irishman. And I think that’s what Frayling is jokingly referring to in the above quote (rephrasing, by the way, an almost identical sentence from his Leone biography: “Clearly, Coburn was Leone’s sort of actor. Okay, he wasn’t everyone’s idea of an Irishman – fair, laid back, detached – but that could be all to the good as well.” [p. 343]).


Unfortunately, the prices of many academic publications have become ridiculous. Who’s willing to fork over one hundred euros for two hundred pages? And the delay between a book’s hardcover publication and its (affordable) paperback edition is getting longer and longer. For example, I still haven’t read Lee Broughton’s edited volume titled Critical Perspectives on the Western, published by Rowman & Littlefield two years ago, because there’s no paperback and the hardback costs more than eighty dollars. And now the announced price of Wong’s book is $125 / £85, while its title, Spaghetti Westerns: A Viewer’s Guide, doesn’t at all suggest an academic publication.

Further examples: Cynthia J. Miller and A. Bowdoin Van Riper’s edited collection titled International Westerns: Re-Locating the Frontier, published by Scarecrow Press four years ago, $107 / £70; Broughton’s Euro-Western, published by I.B. Tauris two years ago, £70 / $115, thanks to Sebastian I got it at a reduced price (I don’t know how they calculate their UK and US prices, but by today’s exchange rate seventy quid are worth approximately ninety-three bucks); Julia Dobson and Jonathan Rayner’s edited volume Mapping Cinematic Norths: International Interpretations in Film and Television, published by Peter Lang two years ago, €61.20 / £45; Emma Hamilton and Alistair Rolls’s edited collection Unbridling the Western Film Auteur: Contemporary, Transnational and Intertextual Explorations, published by Peter Lang this year, €57.10 / £42.

Laudable exceptions: Spaghetti Westerns at the Crossroads, which was published as a paperback (£24.99) in August 2017, a little over a year after its hardback publication (£75); Thomas Klein, Ivo Ritzer and Peter W. Schulze’s edited volume titled Crossing Frontiers: Intercultural Perspectives on the Western, published by Schüren in 2012, €24,90.

Interesting Guardian-article on (academic) publishing practices:

(Sebastian) #30

I think some of the economics of academic publishing works like this: a select number of ultra expensive copies get sold to a certain number of university libraries, then they’re slowly out of print and will forever live on in some poor students’ footnotes :slight_smile: