Spaghetti Westerns vs. Conventional Westerns


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #1

Apologies if this topic has already been done to death.

Are Spaghetti Western fans and conventiona, traditionall western fans are completely different groups of people? I have noticed that some people who are fans of Spaghetti Westerns dislike conventional westerns and vice versa. By conventional western I’m referring to the older American style movies with John Wayne, Glenn Ford, Gary Cooper etc…as well as the newer “revisionist westerns” like The Quick and the Dead, Silverado, Open range etc…

For instance when I read Shobary’s reviews of films, he seems to penalize a film if it is “too American”. On the other hand, I noticed some reviews written by Americans who seem to dismiss any Spaghetti Western outside of the Leone films as Campy B Westerns. Perhaps they secretly resent the idea that Italians can make westerns just as good as Americans can LOL. That Sergio Leone is a master on par with John Ford, and perhaps even better.

Are any of you fans of Conventional westerns? Your thoughts?


(JONAH HEX) #2

I own hundreds of westerns, american and italian. i dig john wayne, i dig klaus kinski.


(Chris_Casey) #3

For me, Westerns are Westerns regardless of whether they are American or European. I have never understood folks who seem to have hardcore prejudices towards one side, or the other…just as I have never understood racists or elitists.
I can perfectly understand someone having a preference for either one or the other, but just a blind hate for a Western simply because it is American (or, Italian for that matter) is just ridiculous.

Having said that, I would say that many of my top favorite Westerns are Spaghettis—but, I could come up with a vast list of favorite American Westerns, as well, to compliment them.

If it is good, it is good…no matter where it came from. And, in my opinion, there are a lotta good Westerns out there from all over the Globe.


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #4

I couldn’t have agreed with you more Chris_casey. Well said. Unfortunately, not everybody thinks like us. I’m sure there are lots of people who have a biased against either type of western.

Some fans of John Wayne for example will never be able to accept Spaghetti westerns, no matter how good of a movie it is. Whatever we think of it, Spaghetti westerns are still stigmatized to some degree. And as a result, some Spaghetti western fans seem to have a counter bias against American westerns.


(Søren) #5

I don’t like the classic American westerns, they are just too black and white in my opinion. The spaghetti western often give you a hero who are neither truly good or bad (or ugly) whereas the typical (classic) American westerns presents a more ruler sharp division between the good guys and the bad guys (shoot the bloke in the black hat).

Mind you this is the classic western we are talking about and when a review states a spaghettti western as being too American it’s too ‘classic’ American western-like. A movie like Massacre at Grand Canyon is a good example of a movie falling in that ditch.

Not that I haven’t seen my share of classic American westerns. Seems that every Saturday night Danish television would send a John Wayne western and I saw more or less all of them but wouldn’t be caught near one today :slight_smile:


(Phil H) #6

I am definitely a fan of westerns, full stop. Possibly to a fault. I can sit through the most awful rubbish if there are guns and horses and the men’s hats are big enough. In fact I often thoroughly enjoy films I know many on this forum would detest with a passion and the general public would justifiably point and laugh at.

Having said that, I am also a fan of good films in general and there are a number of westerns (spaghetti and conventional) which fall into that category.

What I love about the genre is its ability to be taken in so many directions and it has a long history of dealing with diverse issues in a thoughtful way. Anyone who thinks westerns are just action films has never watched the films of John Ford, Delmer Daves and Anthony Mann. Let alone the films of Sergio Sollima or Damiano Damiani. Both American and Italian film makers have successfully used the genre in a highly satisfying and intelligent way when they have known how to handle it properly.

As for american westerns being too black and white; I highly recommend films such as The Bravados, The Searchers, Yellow Sky and Naked Spur to help you change your mind. Great films that all ask big questions of their main protagonists as well as their audience.


(flynnparadox) #7

I, too, am a fan of all types of Westerns. I love Companeros just as much as I love Red River and For A Few Dollars More just as much as Silverado. I certainly tend to go for a spaghetti more often than an American western but love them both.

Flynn


(Chris_Casey) #8

[quote=“AvatarDK, post:5, topic:709”]I don’t like the classic American westerns, they are just too black and white in my opinion. The spaghetti western often give you a hero who are neither truly good or bad (or ugly) whereas the typical (classic) American westerns presents a more ruler sharp division between the good guys and the bad guys (shoot the bloke in the black hat).

Mind you this is the classic western we are talking about and when a review states a spaghettti western as being too American it’s too ‘classic’ American western-like. A movie like Massacre at Grand Canyon is a good example of a movie falling in that ditch.

Not that I haven’t seen my share of classic American westerns. Seems that every Saturday night Danish television would send a John Wayne western and I saw more or less all of them but wouldn’t be caught near one today :)[/quote]

First off, I want to be clear that I am not attacking YOU, AvatarDK! I think you are a great guy and I mean no offence by my following statements.

Not all classic American Westerns are black and white. That is really an uninformed statement, amigo! And your statement: “I wouldn’t be caught near one today” has a twinge of cinematic prejudice to it! :wink:

What you describe in your post as “classic American Westerns” sounds like
the old B-movies of stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the like. Films that were made in the late 1930’s and throughout the 1940’s. Those, to me, are NOT classic American Westerns.

Classic American Westerns, for me start much later than that (1950’s into the early 1960’s).
I recommend you watch the films of Budd Boetticher featuring Randolph Scott, or VERA CRUZ with Cooper and Lancaster, or WARLOCK with Henry Fonda (one of Leone’s favorite movies, apparently) or any of the films that Phil H. mentioned. And how about the Westerns of Sam Peckinpah? Or John Sturges’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN? These are all classic American Westerns; but, they don’t fit the white hat vs. black hat tag you put on them.

BUT, of course…you are entitled to your opinion, companero and I respect it.
And I perfectly understand if you prefer Spaghettis over Hamburger Westerns.
:slight_smile:

And since we are talking about opinions…I just want to throw out one of my own.
Apart from RIO BRAVO (and maybe a couple of others)…I really HATE John Wayne!!
It really bugs me when people equate American Westerns with the films of John Wayne. Just as it bugs me that a lot of people equate Spaghetti Westerns with the films of Clint Eastwood.
There’s more to them than that!


(flynnparadox) #9

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:8, topic:709”]And since we are talking about opinions…I just want to throw out one of my own.
Apart from RIO BRAVO (and maybe a couple of others)…I really HATE John Wayne!!
It really bugs me when people equate American Westerns with the films of John Wayne. Just as it bugs me that a lot of people equate Spaghetti Westerns with the films of Clint Eastwood.
There’s more to them than that![/quote]

I like Rio Bravo, Red River and The Searchers. Other than those, I can’t really call myself a Wayne fan, either.


(Phil H) #10

You know what Chris? I always used to say I wasn’t a big Wayne fan either. But then I started listing the ‘exceptions’.

Rio Bravo
Hondo
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Searchers
Stagecoach
Fort Apache
Rio Grande
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
3 Godfathers
True Grit
Red River

All of which I really like.
Bugger. Looks like I’m a Duke fan after all!


(JONAH HEX) #11

Casey is right on,iv’e always wondered how american westerns got the label as being black and white,an issue i responded to in the wild bunch topic.i think a lot of people accept this idea with out checking for themselves.


(Chris_Casey) #12

[quote=“Phil H, post:10, topic:709”]You know what Chris? I always used to say I wasn’t a big Wayne fan either. But then I started listing the ‘exceptions’.

Rio Bravo
Hondo
Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
The Searchers
Stagecoach
Fort Apache
Rio Grande
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon
3 Godfathers
True Grit
Red River

All of which I really like.
Bugger. Looks like I’m a Duke fan after all![/quote]

Hmmm…I wouldn’t say your were so much a Duke fan as you are a John Ford and Howard Hawks fan! :slight_smile:

I like Hawks’ RIO BRAVO and RED RIVER. I also like (or should I say “appreciate”) John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS and STAGECOACH. But, I have a theory that almost anyone could have played the parts John Wayne played in these and they still would have been great movies.

And, just speaking for myself of course, none of the Ford films you have listed above is on par with his MY DARLING CLEMENTINE.
I have already given my opinion about John Ford elsewhere on this forum.
I understand why he is great, but he is not one of my favorites.

Never got why everyone thinks HONDO is so good. I find it merely OK, at best.

TRUE GRIT has its moments—but, being originally from Oklahoma (where the story is supposed to be taking place) I found the movie to be ridiculously funny due to the fact that they shot a lot of the film in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Oklahoma has no such scenery.
But, that is just me…


(Silver) #13

Have to agree with a lot of what has been said in the above posts. A whole genre of films should not be ignored simply because of their country of origin. Westerns were always my favourite films as a kid, and it was through watching the US ones that i eventually discovered SW’s. And as noted, it’s not true that all US westerns present a very black and white view of characters and story, plus there are quite a few oddities out there if you look for them (Johnny Guitar immediately comes to mind!). There are good and bad examples of both types of western. I do prefer the European ones but would give any (from any country) a fair go :wink:


(Col. Douglas Mortimer) #14

I personally don’t like John Wayne either, only because I believe many of the films he was in had very unflattering portrayals of native americans. Of course this is not always true, but it bothers me that many classic american westerns tend to depict whites as good and natives as either bad guys or pidgeon speaking morons. The classic “cowboy vs. indian” concept has been so slanted by american filmmakers who tried to justify the despicable treatment of whites towards natives. And this I highly resent. Other from that I do like American westerns as well, almost as much as I like Spaghettis.

Spaghetti westerns have definitely influenced american westerns. I love Clint Eastwood’s american westerns such as Outlaw Josey wales, Pale rider, and High Plains drifter. But we all know those films borrowed liberally from Spaghettis.

I also liked High Noon, The gunfighter (Gregory Peck), Butch Cassidy and sundance kid, and Silverado. But I also thought that One Eyed Jacks was Just plain overrated.


(Søren) #15

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:8, topic:709”]First off, I want to be clear that I am not attacking YOU, AvatarDK! I think you are a great guy and I mean no offence by my following statements.

Not all classic American Westerns are black and white. That is really an uninformed statement, amigo! And your statement: “I wouldn’t be caught near one today” has a twinge of cinematic prejudice to it! :wink:

What you describe in your post as “classic American Westerns” sounds like
the old B-movies of stars like Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the like. Films that were made in the late 1930’s and throughout the 1940’s. Those, to me, are NOT classic American Westerns. [/quote]
None taken and I sure am prejudiced against the American western and knew that I would kicked for my attitude towards them.

The classic American western for me is the westerns in the same vein as the John Wayne-westerns I saw on TV as a kid, and they sure were black and white I in their charactherizations. Of course I can’t dismiss a whole genre as being one thing or the other because there will always be outstanding movies in every genre but som genres you will just be more fond of than others and therefore accept their flaws (of which the spaghetti western genre sure got a bunch as well).

Thanks for naming some movies/directors from within your definition of the classic American western may be I will check some of them out just to see what the fuzz is all about.


(Phil H) #16

Good Man!
If nothing else you should enjoy spotting some faces who went on to star in italian films of the 60’s and 70’s. (Van Cleef, Fonda, Jack Elam, Woody Strode, Henry Silva and all the rest)


(JONAH HEX) #17

Again i will defend john wayne, mr.challenge has said he believes many of the films he was in were unflattering to native americans i have seen all of mr.waynes A westerns ,somewhere around forty and wayne only faught indians in five of these- hondo,the searchers,fort apache,she wore a yellow ribbon,and stagecoach.in these movies there is usually a comment by waynes character about the nobility of the native people .in either cahill or big jake his best friend is an indian and in rooster cogburn he partners with a indian kid.i dont see this often sited opinion as being true.but thats just my take. maybe im biased cause i think the Duke is the shit.


(Bad Lieutenant) #18

The imagery of Indians, or native Americans, in John Wayne movies is often condescending. Sometimes there are good Indian characters in there, but they’re always retards, whereas inteligent Indians are mostly portrayed as shrude, sly bastards. About John Wayne, I think he was a very limited actor. To me he had no charisma or screen preence whatsoever. Just a stiff, grumpy actor who smokes too much. Furthermore he was a hypocritical American patriot. Being a patriot is fine, but at least stand for what you say. He dodged serving in the army (unlike people like Lee Marvin and James Stewart), but yet he makes a pro Vietnam film to support the troops? Come on, what a joke! I thinks this puts his outspokenness in a different light. I have the feeling all he did was bitch about stuff and movies that to him were ‘unamerican’ like High Noon. Beside that, he hated spaghetti westerns, but I doubt he ever saw. Bootom line, I never cared for Wayne, even though he mad a couple of good movies. (but that’s mainly because of Howard Hawks, who was an excellent director and not so much because of Wayne).


(JONAH HEX) #19

Everybody is entitled to thier opinion but i think if you were to read michael munn’s biography on wayne you may see him in a different light…and i think he was one of the most charismatic actors ever to grace the screen.


(Bad Lieutenant) #20

No book will ever change my opinion on an actor. And no biased biography will change my mind on his persona. As far as the actor goes, I judge actors from what I see on the screen. The way I see it, he has always played wooden, even in the movies he made in the thirties. Though I couldn’t disagree with you more, I respect your stand on John Wayne. But personally I feel that there have been dozens of better, American, western actors. Let alone European ones.