The history of the SW genre

(Silvanito) #1

There was talk of a thread dealing with this some time ago, I think it’s about time now :slight_smile:

How did this genre come about, and who were the pioneers of European-made western movies?

There was an early Eurowestern called Savage Guns by English director Michael Carreras, anybody seen this?

And then of course we have the series of German-made Winnetou movies shot in Yugoslavia.

How did the history progress from this point on?

scherpschutter, go ahead! :wink:

(scherpschutter) #2

I’m working on the Winnetou movies
I present them here on the forum for the time being, so people can add some comments

See what I can do about the rest
Read an interesting article about the origins in Italian some time ago
It was about Fistful, Jolly films and another western that was made at the same time, and that got a bitter budget (I think it was Le pistole non discutono)

(Silvanito) #3

[quote=“scherpschutter, post:2, topic:900”]I’m working on the Winnetou movies
I present them here on the forum for the time being, so people can add some comments[/quote]

Yes I know, and that’s great too. There’s no hurry with this thread!

Others can of course also present their theories of SW history!

I think Stanton had some things to say as well

(Lode) #4

When I read this an idea of a forum-user-based book about sws came to my mind. We have enough opinions to fill a book. The Spaghetti Western Database printed. THE book about SWssick

(Silver Wolf) #5

Spanish DVD of Savage Guns/Tierra Brutal was released about year ago, same as old Spanish letterbox VHS, I’ve heard. Interesting early production with nice Spanish locations, bit too dialogue-oriented to be really enjoyable with Spanish dub, though. Influence of US westerns if clear but it also has some rugged, more SW-styled scenes and characters. It’s worth noting that the film was made few years before German Winnetou movies, which are usually seen as the primal inspiration of SW genre. As far as I know no US money was involved, Carreras (who was British) produced the movie himself as co-production with some Spanish company. Quite lonesome forerunner of SW genre, interesting in many ways. Spanish/Italian Zorro- and other “masked avenger” films predated Carrera’s film as first “modern” Italian/Spanish westerns but Savage Guns is the first which has some “real” spaghetti western atmosphere. Maybe I should watch it this evening just to see if it really is as SW-styled as I remember.

(Stanton) #6

The Winnetou films were SW forerunners because they showed that an european made western was able to have a tremendeous success. Not so much for their style or their stories, and surely not for being the first.

(Stanton) #7

[quote=“Lindberg, post:3, topic:900”]Yes I know, and that’s great too. There’s no hurry with this thread!

Others can of course also present their theories of SW history!

I think Stanton had some things to say as well [/quote]

I always wanted to write a SW history for the german wikipedia, and then watch how it’s altered by other members.

But I’m too lazy.

(Silvanito) #8

I was thinking that information and opinions from this thread we can use as a basis for a new “Introduction to SWs” on the main page, so your input will be very valuable and greatly appreciated!

Stanton, you don’t have to write the whole history, but please post some of it :wink:

(Bad Lieutenant) #9

Terrore dell’Oklahoma, Il
Year: 1959, Director: Mario Amendola
Anyone seen this?
Il paesino di frontiera chiamato Rio Placido ha il nome in testa, tale è il quieto vivere dei suoi abitanti. Tanta pace viene però sconvolta dall’arrivo di alcuni fuorilegge, attratti da una ricca miniera d’oro situata nei dintorni. Con i consueti metodi violenti, i banditi tentano di indurre i pacifici paesani ad abbandonare il luogo: ma costoro non intendono cedere al ricatto e assoldano un abile e determinato pistolero noto come “Il terrore dell’Oklahoma”…

Western autarchico in anticipo di qualche anno sul filone “spaghetti”. Alcuni bei nomi del teatro brillante italiano fanno mostra di sé per ragioni puramente “alimentari”.

(Silvanito) #10

We have this earlier post from a member, I thought it would be approriate to include it here, and it could maybe get the debate started a little:

[quote=“Squonkamatic, post:2, topic:832”]The thing that interests me the most about this movie (Re: THE MAGNIFICENT TEXAN) is the year it was made: 1968. From the way I reckon things there are four or five specific periods of evolution that Spaghetti Westerns went through. A “Pre-History” period of roughly 1962 to 1964, and “Experimental” era from 1964 to 1965, the “Classic Era” 1966 - 1969 period, a “Revisionist” era from 1970 until maybe 1973, and then a 1974 - 1977 “Parodic” phase where the genre started to consume itself and fell into decline. There is of course overlap between each of those segments (i.e. Corbucci’s first DJANGO film has an experimental era nature to it but technically falls withing the classic period) and there was also the resurgence era in the mid/late 1980s with films like SCALPS and DJANGO RIDES AGAIN.

But 1968 is an odd year, there seems to have been a push/pull effect going on with most of the films from that year which I have been fortunate to see, with Leone’s ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST being the defining moment from which the genre received a huge burst of confidence by having the Italian/Spanish industry produce a film that was on the same epic scale of stuff like THE SEARCHERS, but without the iconoclasm of THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY.

There was a resurgence of Experimental approaches that seems to have started after two films in specific from 1966 and 1967, DEATH RIDES A HORSE and THE BIG GUNDOWN (some might also cite DAY OF ANGER as another), which are almost “pure” examples of the Spaghetti genre in the sense that they are nearly devoid of any over references to American Western genre filmmaking and have their own unique vocabulary that is generally unconcerned with making a traditional cowboy movie. The films have a flavor and look that becomes an idiom unto itself, and in my opinion the result was a conscious attempt by some of the filmmakers to try and delve deeper into this vocabulary of filmmaking and create forms that were as unconcerned with traditional Western conventions as Leone was with appropriating those conventions and turning them on their side.

The result was movies like THE MAGNIFICENT TEXAN which seem to have their own flavor: They are readily identified as Spaghetti (and in this case feed off DEATH RIDES A HORSE) but have what I can only describe as a dynamic tension that harkens back to the experimental era where oddball combinations are paired to create a juxtaposition between the “serious” look of a Western and something more resembling a cartoon or graphic novel – DJANGO functions in a similar manner. Another good example of this oddball dynamic is Jose Luis Merino’s REQUIEM FOR GRINGO, which is a bizarre movie regardless of genre and seems completely unconcerned with the “reality” of the Western as a genre, and instead uses those conventions (gunfights, horses, whiskey, cowboys) to create a unique form. BEYOND THE LAW would be another example in that it seems to take a step backward from the stylistic excesses seen in stuff like DEATH RIDES A HORSE and the Leone “Dollar” films and instead almost tries to be a traditional cowboy movie – which is what I am seeing in THE MAGNIFICENT TEXAN, even so far as to include a Lone Ranger type hero wearing a mask & living a dual identity. But at the same time the visual vocabulary being used is 100% Spaghetti right down to the good old sand pit scenes and overt violence (in one scene a woman gets a rifle butt smashed into her face) that would never be acceptable in a Hollywood style production.

So 1968, an interesting year for Spaghetti in that it seemed to spawn two different approaches: An epic approach ala ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and TEPAPA, and then a more cartoon like approach best exemplified by the “Sartana” series with Gianni Garko, which also got it’s start in 1968. By 1969 these two formulae had branched off into separate methods of approaching the idea of making a Spaghetti Western, but in 1968 they seemed to see a combination within individual films, and the result is a very unique “feel” to movies like THE MAGNIFICENT WESTERN, which may not have contributed much that was new to the idiom so much as continuing those skeins that came before.[/quote]