Which films are better with subs instead of dubs?


(Mortimer) #1

I was thinking about subtitles v. dubs last week after watching Massacre Time. Like many SWs I felt it suffered from poor acting by the people who did the English dub. Especially the lower tier films suffer from English dubbing by annonymous, lowest cost, quickest work, voice actors who either aren’t very good at what they do or don’t care.

And I wondered why am I watching all the Italian films with English dubs? If I were going to watch a non-genre Italian film I would ONLY watch it in Italian with subtitles. The same for a French, German, Korean, or Japanese film.

But the SW falls into a strange gray area. Many of the high profile, high quality films feature English speaking actors who dub their own voices, thus the acting is the image and their English language spoken voice. (Some giallo fall into this same category). But what of films with English speaking actors who DO NOT do their own voice dubs? Who is the real actor then?

Also, were most of these films shot silently and dubbed into various languages later or were the films with primarily Italian casts filmed with sound?

My copy of Massacre Time doesn’t not have an Italian language option. If it did I would have watched it again in Italian with English subs. Did Franco Nero and the rest use thier own voices?

Are there films you think are much better in Italian with subtitles because the overdub actors are not as good as the actors seen on screen?

Looking forward to your opinions and insights, and info about filming techniques used during the era of the SW.


(Chris_Casey) #2

DJANGO has the worst English language dubbing known to man! Thus, it is imperative to always watch that one in Italian with English subtitles.
I agree with you on MASSACRE TIME, as well (my Japanese SPO disc has both English and Italian audio options with English subs available, too).
I also prefer to watch another Franco Nero film in Italian with English subs…and that is TEXAS ADIOS.

Believe it or not, Franco Nero’s own voice was not used in ANY of the films mentioned above–not even in the Italian versions!
It was felt that Nero’s speaking voice sounded too young and that he needed a more mature sounding voice for these films.
Nero dubbed his own voice in the English version of THE MERCENARY, but I believe the Italian version of that film does not feature Nero’s own voice.
If I recall correctly, the first Western that featured Nero’s own voice in both the Italian and English version was VAMOS A MATAR COMPANEROS.

I have heard that THE GREAT SILENCE is also better in Italian with English subs, but I have never had the opportunity to see it that way.


(Mortimer) #3

Thanks for your reply Chris. It’s probably anathema to confess this here but I’ve only seen Django once, and I didn’t like it. This was before the invention of the DVD. I saw it on a washed out grey market video tape, full screen, in English. Now that you’ve mentioned this I’m going to give it another shot with the widescreen DVD in Italian with English subtitles (can’t understand Italian).

I thought The Mercenary was Franco’s own voice. I’m quite surprised he didn’t speak his own lines in most of his westerns.

Do you know how most of these films were made? Filmed silent with intent to do multiple different language voice dubs? Filmed in Italian with various dubs?


(Spaghetti Monkey) #4

This is a great topic as the Italian movies tend to be a bit of a crapshoot as to whether the English or Italian dubs are better.


(scherpschutter) #5

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:2, topic:2121”]DJANGO has the worst English language dubbing known to man! Thus, it is imperative to always watch that one in Italian with English subtitles.
I agree with you on MASSACRE TIME, as well (my Japanese SPO disc has both English and Italian audio options with English subs available, too).
I also prefer to watch another Franco Nero film in Italian with English subs…and that is TEXAS ADIOS.

Believe it or not, Franco Nero’s own voice was not used in ANY of the films mentioned above–not even in the Italian versions!
It was felt that Nero’s speaking voice sounded too young and that he needed a more mature sounding voice for these films.
Nero dubbed his own voice in the English version of THE MERCENARY, but I believe the Italian version of that film does not feature Nero’s own voice.
If I recall correctly, the first Western that featured Nero’s own voice in both the Italian and English version was VAMOS A MATAR COMPANEROS.

I have heard that THE GREAT SILENCE is also better in Italian with English subs, but I have never had the opportunity to see it that way.[/quote]

This is correct. Nero also speaks between his teeth, he is not very easy to understand in Italian, even though he has no strong accent (he’s from the North, accents are much stronger in the South). Hill & Spencer were dubbed in Italian until relatively late in their careers, Milian first spoke his own lines in Tepepa (and the Italians fell in love with his Spitaliano, a combination of Spanish and Italian). Like I’ve said before: voice actors are quite common in Italian. As a result, Italian soundtracks often sound better: you’re listening to professional voice actors! Eastwood was impressed by his voice actor Salerno (from Bandidos) and according to many, he adopted his slow voice for his western roles. I’m currently watching Rawhide, and Eastwood’s voice is indeed remarkably different from his voice in the Dollar movies, while there are only a few years between them.


(Chris_Casey) #6

Virtually all of the Italian Westerns, especially those made between 1964-1970, were shot silent in order to facilitate post-production dubbing and so forth. There was rarely any live sound done, outside of recorders for “guide tracks” to help actors remember what they said for looping later.


(Silver) #7

This is certainly true. It’s funny when it’s sometimes said that the film is better in it’s “original Italian” and yet i have seen some of these westerns where they were obviously shot with the actors speaking English and so the English track synchs up ok but the Italian dialogue, a lot of the lines are actually different. So what exactly is the “original” format? This first became apparent to me while watching an Italian audio/Eng subs version of God In Heaven etc…where the subs matched what the actors were saying mostly and the spoken dialogue often did not…


(Frank Talby) #8

It depends on the movie but I prefer original language tracks to dubbed any day. The aforementioned Texas Adios and Django is definitely one worth hearing in Italian and I won’t waste my time on the dubbed versions. I also prefer seeing anything by Shaw Brothers in the original Cantonese or Mandarin. I believe Shaw movies were also filmed silent and dubbed in post-production as well.


(Chris_Casey) #9

You are correct. And many, if not all, of the Hong Kong films made from the 60’s through the 90’s were shot this way, too. The difference between the Italian Westerns being shot without sound and the HK films also being shot without sound is that the folks in HK did it to avoid contamination from the insane amount of noise coming from their surroundings in such a densely populated area.
I also heard from a friend of mine that the Shaw Bros. chose to shoot this way inside their studio complex to facilitate being able to shoot several productions at one time without worrying about sound bleed-overs.


(Frank Talby) #10

[quote=“Chris_Casey, post:9, topic:2121”]You are correct. And many, if not all, of the Hong Kong films made from the 60’s through the 90’s were shot this way, too. The difference between the Italian Westerns being shot without sound and the HK films also being shot without sound is that the folks in HK did it to avoid contamination from the insane amount of noise coming from their surroundings in such a densely populated area.
I also heard from a friend of mine that the Shaw Bros. chose to shoot this way inside their studio complex to facilitate being able to shoot several productions at one time without worrying about sound bleed-overs.[/quote]

That is a very smart way to make multiple movies. I think it also allowed with the foreign distribution as well but I may be off base with that.


(Chris_Casey) #11

No, you aren’t off base. It certainly made that aspect easier, too. But, I believe that was more of an afterthought for the Asian companies, whereas it was a forethought with the Italian production companies.


(Frank Talby) #12

ah gotcha. it makes sense as watching enough Spaghetti westerns you can tell the sound was added in post-production and some are very obvious as it sounds like the actors were recorded in a cave.


(autephex) #13

I dont know if he still does this, but I remember Robert Rodriguez talking about shooting without any sound for El Mariachi and how it saves a lot on budget and shooting time to just add all the sound afterward


(Frank Talby) #14

Oh I think I heard that as well.


(Extranjero) #15

I second that! Actually, Django has pretty average dubbing by spaghetti standards, but the actor voicing Django himself is so bad that he almost sinks the film in its English language version.

Voices aside, it’s also interesting to pick up the differences in the original Italian script. The Italian version of Django is much more vehement about Jackson’s men, explicitly referring to them as “the racists”, while Django provokes the saloon shootout by calling them “Confederate pigs”!


(Chris_Casey) #16

[quote=“Extranjero, post:15, topic:2121”]I second that! Actually, Django has pretty average dubbing by spaghetti standards, but the actor voicing Django himself is so bad that he almost sinks the film in its English language version.

Voices aside, it’s also interesting to pick up the differences in the original Italian script. The Italian version of Django is much more vehement about Jackson’s men, explicitly referring to them as “the racists”, while Django provokes the saloon shootout by calling them “Confederate pigs”![/quote]

You are right! And that is why I say that film has the worst dubbing of any Spaghetti Western–because it changes a lot of the story!
The voice for Django and others, as well, are atrocious enough; but, the way they change the meaning of the lines and the story is unforgivable.

One of the classic moments of the film that the English dubbing kills is the final confrontation between Jackson and Django in the cemetery.
The original Italian has Jackson “praying” for Django and shooting bullets into the cross he is behind…saying “In the Name of the Father…” (bang!)…“And the son…” (bang!)…"And the holy ghost…"
Then, Django jumps up and says: “Amen!” and mows them all down!
That is brilliant!
The English version has Jackson telling Django he better start praying for himself. Then, he fires…“I can’t hear ya!” (bang!)…“I can’t hear ya…”, etc.
To which Django replies: “Can you hear this?” and mows them all down.
That is just stupid.
The English dubbing really dumbs down the original and sinks the movie, in my opinion.


(korano) #17

Like most have said, django is definetly better in Italian. Nero’s vocie actor sounds like a 50 something year old while Nero was something like 23 at the time. And the English dialogue is exceptionally bad.

Regarding Tepepa, I found that Milian’s performance was a little more expressive in Italian.

I remember Fabio Testi’s real voice from China 9, Liberty 37 and it is truly odd. His voice seems similar to Bud Spencer’s booming English heard in Five Man Army. Though he is Venetian. It seems that Terence Hill is the best English speaker of all the old stars as now adays, his accent is virtually undetectable.

What puzzles me somewhat is why people like Nero were so adamant to dub there own English lines. Most old Italian actors say they express themselves better in Italian but Nero seems to be able to do so in English just fine.

I remember hearing Gemma’s English in Tenebre. Very fitting


(autephex) #18

I agree with Django being better on the Italian dub… both for the voices and the translation. However, I don’t find the English track to be so horrible. Certainly a different character, but I still enjoy watching with the English dub sometimes.

In the interview on the BU Companeros disc, Nero states he liked to do his own English dubbing because in the real American West, everyone were immigrants that all had different accents, and no one talked in this stereotypical John Wayne type voice…


(Silence) #19

Anyone else think that the dubber of Ivan Rassimov in Cjamango sounds like an old guy?


(Chris_Casey) #20

I agree with that, amigo. And that is because Hill married an American girl and lived for an incredibly long time in New Mexico (he still owns a home there).