The Spaghetti Western

You may recall I decided to dedicate Friday’s to a look at films, people, and trends related to the cinematic arts. I’m calling it – Friday Films.

Turn back the cinematic calendar to 1959 and what film would have the honor of kicking off the Spaghetti Western trend,  Il terrore dell’Oklahoma (1959), directed by Mario Amendola. It was the first of over 600 films made entirely on location in Italy by Italian filmmakers.

The popularity of the genre exploded in 1964 with the release of Sergio Leone’s  “Man with No Name” trilogy (or “Dollars Trilogy“) directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood and with the musical scores of Ennio MorriconeA Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). The success of the second film cemented Leone’s reputation as a Western director and helped make international stars of Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and composer Morricone. Sergio Leone defined the style of the Spaghetti Western.

As Sergio Leone is the man credited with bringing the genre into the mainstream it is fitting that his  My Name is Nobody from 1973 saw the spaghetti western era come to a close, giving way to kung-fu movies and porn.  Nobody is a comedy western film that poked fun at the genre. It starred Henry Fonda as an old gunslinger who watched ‘his’ old West fade away before his very eyes as he played his guitar. Terence Hill also starred in the film as the young stranger who helps Fonda leave the dying West with style.

Leon went on to direct the 1984 film, Once Upon a Time in America, an Italian mob movie that came in around four hours in the European market. Hollywood chopped it in half.

One of my favorites was another Leone film, the James Coburn, Rod Steiger effort, A Fistful of Dynamite. (Also known as Duck You Sucker.) It plays up one of the common themes of the spaghetti genre, The Mexican Revolution.

If you like the genre there is a host of great websites out there dedicated to Spaghetti Westerns.

I’d start with the Top-20 Spaghetti films of all time at: The Spaghetti Western Database.

Leave a Reply