Strange Locations

Forgive me if this already was a topic here. I watched my fair share of spaghetti westerns, but there are still a lot to explore. The last two movies I saw were L’ira di Dio and Una lunga fila di croci, and I thought both featured some strange decisions when it comes to settings and locations. For instance, in the opening scene of Una lunga, Anthony Steffen clears a bandit hideout. Inside, it looks like a Mexican building, but outside, it was clearly a medieval Italien structure. And later on, there was a town and some kind of hacienda, both beautifully built, the story takes place somewhere in Mexico, but the landscape surrounding the towns was meadows and European mixed forest in autumn. Somehow, it felt a bit odd. So I know that the Dollar movies were shot in Almeria, Spain, which looked fantastic and very much like the Mexican desert. I assume it has budgetary reasons that they stayed in Italy for smaller films, but I wonder why they didn’t try to hide that fact in some movies … like in the Sartana movies (although I’m pretty sure that I saw an electricity pylon in one of them :wink:) Maybe you guys have some insights on that topic, I would be happy to learn a thing or two …


Could you provide some Images :smiley:

The outside of the building is the well known mill of Monte Gelato (“Mola di Monte Gelato”). In that outside area many SWs scenes were shot, for example in Hate Thy Neighbor, The Grand Duel and Johnny Hamlet, often including the waterfalls (Cascate di Monte Gelato).

That’s it, thanks! And it’s beautiful scenery, don’t get me wrong … it just doesn’t fit the area this story takes place in. I think you could sell it as a location in Virginia, maybe. But here it’s meant to be Texas … and the inside of the mill looks like a Mexican hacienda. Then they are riding off and they are in some kind of desert somehow … where did all the trees go? And then there is this Texas town surrounded by trees and farmland. So, my point is … why did they use such locations when they don’t match with the story? At first, I thought it might be budgetary reasons, but when you think about it, it might have been cheaper to film in one desert region alone than to travel to different locations and film on different sets.

And here is a screenshot of the Hacienda … you can see brownish autumn trees in the background …

1 Like

I still say it’s budgetary reasons. The cheapest way is to film right in front of your door, around Rome, or Barcelona, or Madrid. With a bit of luck the cheapos could afford sending five people (two actors, three crew) to Almería for a day or two to get some nice big vistas in the can.

Western audiences (in Europe anyway) probably expected these stories to be set in Texas or Arizona rather than in Idaho or the Dakotas or wherever, for whatever reasons, so the producers or distributors complied. It was possibly also easier to find bit part actors or extras for a Mexican border setting than for places with a population made up from Irish and German settlers, for example.

Also, as I’ve been to Texas because I have relatives there, most of it is flat and quite green, as I recall there was no hill to speak of between Dallas and San Antonio, for example. Not too different looking from a flat piece of land in Italy, in a way.

Edit: This was the first picture I got on Google Street View, randomly tapping about half way between Dallas and ole San Antone:


That’s crazy. I always assumed that Texas and the Borderlands are basically deserts … interesting. I’ve never been there, I visited Stephen King land (Maine) and the area around Boston once.
That makes these movies with those strange location choices more accurate than the American westerns. Thanks for the insights!

1 Like

There are parts of Texas that are very typical of what you would imagine. Parts of the northwest portion of the state, for example. In my youth, during the summer, I worked with horses on a ranch in Oklahoma right along the Texas border. Quite a bit of that area was nothing but sagebrush, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and the very occasional mountain lion.


Okay, so there are deserts as well … but the landscape changes of course, its a big stretch of land. I think my main problem with those location choices was that they changed so quickly, from a desert-like environment to an autumn forest and back to a hacienda surrounded by green acres of land. Very inconsistent. But I think those obscurities are part of the charm…


Absolutely! … it’s a fantasy of sorts, and as you see more of these films the similar inconsistencies reoccur time and again … they become a source of pleasure rather than a critical flaw.