Top 10 Most Pessimistic SW

Top 10 List of Most Pessimistic Spaghetti Western Films

  1. Condenados por Vivir (Cut-Throats Nine) (Marchent, 1971)
  2. Il Grande Silenzio (Corbucci, 1968)
  3. Un minuto per Pregare, un istante per morire (Giraldi, 1968)
  4. Il Tempo degli Avvoltoi (Cicero, 1967)
  5. Black Jack (Baldanello, 1968)
  6. La taglia è tua … l’uomo l’ammazzo io (El Puro) (Mulargia, 1969)
  7. Une corde, une colt (A Cemetery without Crosses) (Hossein, 1968)
  8. Sette Dollari sul Rosso (Cardone, 1966)
  9. Antes Llega la Muerte (Marchent, 1964)
  10. I Crudeli (Corbucci, 1967)

The five main criteria that underpin my classification are:

(i) death of protagonist/s;
(ii) Evil/Injustice triumphs;
(iii) inescapability of a tragic fate
(iv) misanthropy
(v) futility of human effort

I do not have a fixed opinion about the order. It is merely tentative. To note the absence of any Leone movie: I deem those chosen in this list to be more pessimistic/ nihilistic/tragic than any of Leone in spite that the term ‘nihilism’ has been used in reference to Leone’s work.

Any discussion and other suggestions are welcomed.


Welcome to the Community Amigo,

I agree with many of the films you’ve picked, but with the exception of Il Grande Silenzio and Condenados por Vivir, I don’t many SWs have the Evil/Injustice triumphs over the hero element. Une Corde, un Colt has a Greek Tragedy element for me, and because it has that karma the Greeks enjoyed using in their plays and poems, I have no problem with the ending of it. Il Tempo degli Avvoltoi I don’t think is entirely pessimistic as even though George Hilton’s character does meet an ambiguous fate, he does redeem himself, and brings out the good in the characters played by Eduardo Fajardo and Pamela Tudor. I think the same can count for Antes Llega la Muerte too.

Like you said yourself, all this isn’t a fixed criteria, and this is merely my interpretation.

Here’s my list

  1. Il Grande Silenzio

  2. Un Minuto per Pregare, un Istante per Morire

  3. Condenados por Vivir

  4. Black Jack

  5. Keoma

  6. Une Corde, Un Colt…

  7. Sette Dollari sul Rosso

  8. Dos Hombres van a Morir

  9. Sonora

  10. Due Croci a Danger Pass

My #8 pick has a very unexpected, and tragic revelation that makes the ending of this otherwise fun SW a little melancholy

My #9 pick has many unpleasant characters and a very gritty atmosphere, but still enjoyable.

I have Keoma on the list because Franco Nero truly does play a loner in a society that openly shuns him.


Pretty awesome idea for a list. I think mine would look like this…

  1. The Great Silence
  2. Cut Throats Nine
  3. Cemetery Without Crosses
  4. Black Jack
  5. A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die
  6. El Puro
  7. A Taste of Death
  8. Keoma
  9. Johnny Hamlet (Even though I’m aware the ending is a bit more positive than the original).
  10. Once Upon a Time in the West

In addition to the ones already mentioned I would ad In the Dust of the Sun and Death Played the Flute