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The Spaghetti West

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Mr. Arkadin
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The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 20th, 2014, 4:41 pm

Image

I thought it might be nice to have a thread dedicated exclusively to the Italian western. While the origins of the genre are well known--Sergio Leone views Kurosawa's samurai flick Yojimbo (1961), transfers the plot to a western setting, and makes history--most of what is discussed and shown in the U.S. is the "Dollars Trilogy" and/or Loene's epic, Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), which barely scratches the surface of a rich legacy that runs the gamut from revenge to comedy and sparked a resurgence in the American western at home. It is for those who seek a bit more sauce with their pasta that this thread is dedicated.

Mr. A's Top Five:

1) The Great Silence (1967)

Sergio Corbucci's nihilistic masterpiece perches atop this list like vulturous Klaus Kinski's bounty hunter Loco, who builds his business with the bodies of starving men. A young widow hires a mute gunfighter to extract her revenge.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEZR9cMcPbg[/youtube]

2) For a Few Dollars More (1965)

The Italian western begins with Leone and this is his most concise work. Some might argue that Once Upon a Time in the West is a better movie, but the ideas that permeate that film began here.
More info: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1817

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjFVOuYShp0[/youtube]

3) The Big Gundown (1966)

The third great Sergio--Sergio Sollima--made this classic about a man with political aspirations who tracks a Mexican peasant accused of killing a twelve year old little girl. Filled with social and political concerns, Lee Van Cleef's sheriff discovers that truth is not always as simple as it seems, while Tomas Milian gives a tour de force performance, equaled by a brilliant Ennio Morricone score.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I91GEjoIHS0[/youtube]

4) Face to Face (1967)

Sollima jumped from societal ideas to philosophy and ethics in this film, where a meek schoolmaster and vicious bandit form a friendship that begins and ends in blood. Easily the deepest film in the SW cannon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqG6pOpYBng[/youtube]

5) The Return of Ringo (1965)

Director Duccio Tessari translates Homer's The Odyssey to the western genre. Made at the same time as the "Dollars Trilogy", Giuliano Gemma's Ringo persona was original and different from the hordes of Eastwood imitators, most of which fell flat on their stubbled faces.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrSR4HH6ag8[/youtube]

16 more great westerns:

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
A Pistol for Ringo (1965)
Four of the Apocalypse (1975)
Django (1966)
Django Kill AKA If you Live--Shoot! (1967)
They Call Me Trinity (1970)
A Man Called Sledge (1970)
Day of Anger (1967)
A Professional Gun AKA The Mercenary (1968)
Keoma (1976)
My Name is Nobody (1973)
The Hellbenders (1967)
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
A Bullet for the General (1966)
Cemetery Without Crosses AKA A Rope, A Colt (1968)
Black Jack AKA On Your Knees Django (1968)


Plenty of loot still lies out there waiting to be discovered. To quote a famous film: You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.
Last edited by Mr. Arkadin on February 24th, 2014, 10:22 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Lucky Vassall
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Lucky Vassall » February 20th, 2014, 10:40 pm

One of my favorites was It Can Be Done, Amigo. Whenever he took off his glasses . . .
AVATAR: Billy DeWolfe as Mrs. Murgatroid, “Blue Skies” (1946)

“My ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”
“You’re lucky. Now they have immigration laws."

Mae West, The Heat’s On” (1943)

:–)—
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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 20th, 2014, 11:27 pm

Lucky Vassall wrote:One of my favorites was It Can Be Done, Amigo.


Another one I need to track down. It's incredible how many westerns they churned out and so many of them aren't even available in the U.S.. When I think of the other Italian genres like Giallo, Poliziotteschi, or Sex Comedy, they had limited runs because their very definitions often boxed them into corners. Once the genre was thoroughly explored, it was depleted. With the western, they could explore ideas such as comedy, musicals, noir, politics, etc. while still using the same backdrop.

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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Lzcutter » February 21st, 2014, 12:13 am

You know Leone, Spaghetti Westerns and Ennio's music have entered into a special realm when one of the German ice dancing teams at the Olympics this year danced to a mash up of Ennio's music from Once Upon a Time in the West.
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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 21st, 2014, 9:49 am

Morricone had done other work, but he really did not hit his stride until scoring Fistful of Dollars (1964) for Leone. From different accounts I've read, Leone did not like the traditional score he originally proposed and suggested the use of sound effects (whips, clanging bells, exotic instruments) that put him on the path he is still traveling today. By the time of Once Upon a Time in the West, Leone had such trust in his ability that he would allow him to score the film before shooting began making scenes like this one quite effective:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=526Uz_qwpm8[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 22nd, 2014, 12:13 pm

Although Spaghetti westerns fell out of favor in the early 70's there were still a few directors making these films periodically. The Italians often refer to this as the "Twilight" era, as we would categorize later Noir efforts that do not fall within the supposed classic time frame.

Silver Saddle (1978) is one of the last gasps of the genre, starring Giuliano Gemma, who was one of its original stars in the Ringo films. The film opens with a poor farmer, cheated out of his savings by a rich landowner named Barret and killed in front of his son by a hired gun. The son picks up the gun, avenges his father and steals the gunslinger's horse, which has a beautiful silver saddle. Years go by and the boy becomes a man and famous gunfighter in his own right. He is offered a large sum to kill one of the Barret clan and agrees to waive his fee simply for the revenge, but discovers that his target is a 10 year old boy.

Directed by Lucio Fulci, this is a nice closer for the SW era and proves that Fulci was not a gore hound, but a talented director, who could make great films with little or no money. One can also see ideas that Eastwood took and incorporated into his later westerns.

A taste:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Un2xjphuYg[/youtube]

The complete film:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnPgT4djuKI[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 25th, 2014, 10:26 am

A great documentary made while the genre was in full flower. Interviews with actors, directors, and behind the scenes footage of classic films:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIiL4AwQkSw[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuM2Ltk4gzU[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » February 28th, 2014, 1:07 pm

An invaluable resource. Want to find that crazy movie you saw at 3AM? Search here:

http://us.yhs4.search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt= ... /Main_Page

Also has a top 20 list:

http://www.spaghetti-western.net/index. ... p_20_Films

DVD releases, forums, and more!

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 3rd, 2014, 2:04 pm

When Mr. ChiO held a poll for best Shakespeare adaptation last year, Enzo G. Castellari's 1968 flick Johnny Hamlet was one of my picks. I knew the film had no hope of winning, but it remains perhaps the most surrealistic Spaghetti Western ever released, challenged only by Keoma (1976) made by the same director eight years later in the Twilight era.

Castellari seems to have absorbed Fellini's dreamscapes and color of 8 1/2 (1963) and Juliet of the Spirits (1965) respectively, while still maintaining a tight plot of revenge. This is a difficult film to track down, but well worth viewing. Also includes a nice score and title song--see below:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AR_p6yjArs[/youtube]

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Rita Hayworth
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Rita Hayworth » March 3rd, 2014, 2:35 pm

TCM PRIMETIME - WHAT'S ON TONIGHT: ENNIO MORRICONE
THURSDAY, MARCH 6TH



STARTING AT 8PM EASTERN AND 5PM PACIFIC
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Death Rides a Horse (1969)
Mercenary, The (1970)
Five Man Army, The (1970)

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 3rd, 2014, 2:50 pm

Thanks for posting. They will also be showing Guns for San Sebastian (1968), which I have been wanting to see for some time. TCM premiered it over a year ago, but I missed it. Good things come to those who wait.

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 6th, 2014, 9:04 am

The Spaghetti in prime time tonight!

Some good films showing with For a Few Dollars More (1965) heading the list in its rightful place as the most influential film of the genre. Death Rides a Horse (1967) is derivative of Leone's film and written by the same script man, Luciano Vincenzoni, who also penned my pick of the evening, The Mercenary aka A Professional Gun (1968). While Zapata westerns had been made before (A Bullet for the General [1966]), The Mercenary infuses action and humor in a refreshing new way that had not been seen previously. Leading men Franco Nero and Tony Musante are superb, while Jack Palance plays one of his nastiest villains, Curly (whose name would be resurrected for the City Slickers films).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe86D3DEKX4[/youtube]


Guns for San Sebastian (1968) has been on my wish list for awhile now. My father had the soundtrack and the score is awe inspiring:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-DBIavPlnY[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 9th, 2014, 10:04 am

Although originating in America and becoming popular in the 1950's, the psychological revenge western is the basis for much of the Spaghetti genre. While this concept was played in various forms, Gianfranco Baldanello's Black Jack aka On Your Knees Django (1968) pushes these ideas to the utmost limits, with Robert Wood giving a maniacal performance as a man who has lost everything and lives only to make his enemies suffer.

The story begins with Jack masterminding a bank holdup, but things turn sour when the gang tries to double cross him. Although he escapes with the loot, he is betrayed by an Indian, who rapes and scalps his sister, while the rest of the group take the money, cripple him, and leave him for dead. Jack swears vengeance and begins tracking his prey, unaware that with each kill, he becomes more like the very men he despises.

The film:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjdKimDRheA[/youtube]

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 12th, 2014, 1:21 pm

Image

Although he made all kinds of films, Antonio Margheriti is best known for his horror output of the early sixties. His collaborations with cult siren Barbara Steele (Castle of Blood [1963], The Long Hair of Death [1964]) are immersed in gothic style, which seems to permeate his entire body of work. And God Said to Cain... (1970) is more horror flick than western, helped greatly by Klaus Kinski as Gary Hamilton, a man who seeks repayment from a friend, who stole the loot, his girl, and sent him to prison for ten years. Most of the story occurs on a single night during a tornado and ends in a fitting Lady of Shanghai (1948) tribute, as the two men face down in a room full of mirrors and flames.

While I can't say this is a top notch Spaghetti, it is entertaining and Margheriti knows how to create a mood. Kinski often sold himself to the highest bidder to finance his his lavish lifestyle, but he always gave good performances. Perhaps the biggest flaw is that that he did not do the dubbing. He was a man fluent in six languages and his voice would add so much to a film like this, but for all that And God Said to Cain... is a decent movie and Margheriti's best entry into the western genre.

For some reason I cannot get this trailer to embed, but here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9qW0WIxbWQ
Last edited by Mr. Arkadin on March 21st, 2014, 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Spaghetti West

Postby Mr. Arkadin » March 14th, 2014, 2:45 pm

Death Rides a Horse (1967) might be considered Giulio Petroni's best film by SW critics, but I much prefer And For a Roof a Sky Full Of Stars made one year later with the great Giuliano Gemma. Where Death Rides seemed to emulate the Leone formula, Sky Full of Stars opened many doors in the Italian west, creating new layers of depth and complexity.

Comedy westerns were not a new idea (Seven Guns for the MacGregors had been released three years prior), but And For a Roof a Sky Full Of Stars was one of the first to bookend a series of comedic episodes with serious action at the onset and finale, adding poignancy and explaining the film's title about a man who is never able to settle down.

The astonishing opening sequence features a stagecoach massacre where all the occupants are slaughtered. Ennio Morricone's beautiful score begins as the camera settles on one of the deceased, a young woman, dust slowly collecting on her face until Gemma's hand enters the frame, wiping her cheek. An interesting western more people should see.

The film:

phpBB [video]
Last edited by Mr. Arkadin on November 28th, 2015, 10:01 am, edited 3 times in total.


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