Spaghetti Western

Spaghetti Western

Spaghetti Western, also known in some countries in mainland Europe as the Italo-Western, is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960s, so named because most were produced by Italian studios, usually in coproduction with a Spanish partner.

The typical team was made up of an Italian director, Spanish technical staff and a cast of Italian and Spanish actors and sometimes a falling Hollywood star. The films were primarily shot in the Andalusia region of Spain, and in particular the Tabernas Desert of Almería, because it resembles the American Southwest. (A few were shot on Sardinia.) Because of the desert setting and the readily available southern Spanish extras, a usual theme in Spaghetti Westerns is the Mexican Revolution, Mexican bandits, and the border region shared by Mexico and the U.S..


Originally Spaghetti Westerns had in common the Italian language, low budgets, and a recognizable highly fluid, violent, and minimalist cinematography that eschewed (some said "demythologized"Fact|date=September 2008) many of the conventions of earlier Westerns — partly intentionally, partly as a result of the work being done in a different cultural background and with limited funds. The term was originally used disparaginglyFact|date=September 2008, but by the 1980s many of these films came to be held in high regardFact|date=September 2008, particularly because of influence they had on other Westerns.

Paradoxically enough, the movie that qualifies as the very first Spaghetti Western, "The Savage Guns / Tierra brutal" (1961), showed no Italian involvement at all, being a British-Spanish coproduction, but it was shot in Almería and featured the very heterogeneous cast that later became typical of any film of the genre (in this case combining ex-Hollywood US actors Richard Basehart and Alex Nicol with the Spanish "folklóricas" Paquita Rico and María Granada); the whole being directed by an English specialist in horror B movies, Michael Carreras.

The best-known and perhaps archetypal Spaghetti Westerns were the Man With No Name trilogy (or the Dollars Trilogy) directed by Sergio Leone, starring then-TV actor Clint Eastwood and with musical scores composed by Ennio Morricone (all of whom are now synonymous with the genre): "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964), "For a Few Dollars More" (1965), and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966). Atypically for the genre, the last had a relatively high budget, over one million $USD. Leone's next film after the so-called "trilogy" was "Once Upon a Time in the West," which is often lumped in with the previous three for its similar style and accompanying score by Morricone, although it differs by the absence of Clint Eastwood in the starring role.

Notable films

*"Tierra brutal" / "The Savage Guns" (1961)
*"El llanero" (1963)
*"Gringo" / "Duello nel Texas" (1963)
*"Cavalca e uccidi" / "Brandy, el sheriff de Losatumba" (1964)
*"Relevo para un pistolero" (1964)
*"A Fistful of Dollars" (1964)
*"For a Few Dollars More" (1965)
*"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1966)
*"Navajo Joe" (1966)
*"Django" (1966)
*"The Big Gundown" (1967)
*"A Bullet for the General" (1967)
*"Face to Face" (1967)
*"Day of Anger" (1967)
*"Death Rides a Horse" (1967)
*"A Minute to Pray" (1967)
*"Ace High" (1968)
*"The Great Silence" (1968)
*"If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death" (1968)
*"The Mercenary" (1968)
*"Once Upon a Time in the West" (1969)
*"The Price of Power" (1969)
*"Sabata" (1969)
*"Cinque figli di cane / América rugiente" (1969)
*"Compañeros" (1970)
*"A Fistful of Dynamite" (1971)
*"They Call Me Trinity" (1971)
*"Storm Rider" (1972)
*"Trinity Is STILL My Name!" (1972)
*"My Name Is Nobody" (1974)
*"Four of the Apocalypse" (1975)
*"Keoma" (1976)
*"China 9, Liberty 37" (1978)

Notable personalities


*Enzo Barboni
*Ricardo Blasco
*Mario Caiano
*Enzo G. Castellari
*Sergio Corbucci
*Jesús Franco
*Sergio Leone
*Joaquín Luis Romero-Marchent
*Sergio Sollima
*Ramón Torrado
*Tonino Valerii
*Lucio Fulci


*Tony Anthony (actor)
*Alex Cord
*William Berger
*Maite Blasco
*Barbara Bouchet
*Frank Braña
*Mario Brega
*Charles Bronson
*Claudia Cardinale
*Lee van Cleef
*Clint Eastwood
*George Eastman
*Jack Elam
*Henry Fonda
*Tito García
*Gianni Garko
*Giuliano Gemma

*Sancho Gracia
*Richard Harrison
*Terence Hill
*George Hilton
*Klaus Kinski
*Peter Lee Lawrence
*Guy Madison
*Tomas Milian
*Gordon Mitchell
*Franco Nero
*Alex Nicol
*Jack Palance
*Luigi Pistilli
*Hunt Powers
*Wayde Preston
*Fernando Rey
*Fernando Sancho
*Bud Spencer
*Anthony Steffen
*Woody Strode
*José Suárez
*Gian Maria Volontè
*Eli Wallach
*Frank Wolff
*Robert Woods


*Luis Enríquez Bacalov
*Francesco De Masi
*Ennio Morricone
*Bruno Nicolai
*Riz Ortolani
*Piero Piccioni
*Armando Trovaioli
*Piero Umiliani

Other "Food Westerns"

The name led to various other non-U.S. westerns being associated with food and drink.

*Chorizo/paella western are used for similar films financed by Spanish capital, although Leone's earlier films were actually shot in Almería.
*Publicity for the Japanese comedy film "Tampopo" coined the phrase "Noodle Western" to describe the parody made about a noodle restaurant.
*Robert Rodriguez's westerns, "El Mariachi," "Desperado" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", have been called "Burrito Westerns."
*Sometimes Hrafn Gunnlaugsson's Viking movies are called "Cod Westerns."
*The German Westerns of the 1960s, which were successful in Europe before the Italian Westerns, often made after novels by Karl May and mostly filmed in Yugoslavia are often called "Sauerkraut Westerns". The GDR DEFA Studios made "Sauerkraut Westerns" in Yugoslavia like their West German counterparts and also had a Native American as hero (usually played by Gojko Mitic).
*The Red Dwarf episode "Gunmen of the Apocalypse" has been described as the world's only "Roast Beef Western", although the British director Shane Meadows' film "Once Upon a Time in the Midlands" has been described as a "tinned-spaghetti Western."
*John Woo's Western movies were described by Roger Ebert as "Dim Sum Western."
*The Thai film "Tears of the Black Tiger" by director Wisit Sasanatieng has been dubbed both a "stir-fry horse opera" and "a Pad Thai Western" by critics.
*The "Red Western" or "Ostern" is the Soviet and eastern bloc's take on the genre.
*("Time" magazine dubbed the animated TV series "Samurai Jack," which combined elements of — among others — anime and the Sergio Leone films, a "Soba Western.")
*Monty Python's Flying Circus provided a "cheese Western" parody as a film critic discussed Sam Peckinpah's "Rogue Cheddar" film.
*An entire sub-genre of Westerns produced by the Indian film industry, and especially Bollywood based in Mumbai, is whimsically named "Curry Western." Notable as being one of the most successful box-office hits of all time in India is the "Curry Western" "Sholay."
*Danish moviemakers did a couple of westerns in the sixties, which are usually referred to as "potato-westerns". The Danish word is "kartoffel-western".
*There is supposedly a genre of French-language westerns known as the "Baguetti Western".
*In 2007, Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike directed a western called "Sukiyaki Western Django".
*Spanish filmmaker Álex de la Iglesia stated that his 2002 movie "800 balas" ("800 bullets") is a "marmitako western", being marmitako a typical Basque dish made with tuna.
*South Korean film "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" by director Kim Ji-woon, a revival of the "Manchurian western" genre, has been referred to in some sections of the media as a "kimchi western". [cite web|url=|title=South Korean movie industry places hopes in a 'kimchi western'|last=Lee|first=Min|date=2008-07-23|publisher=International Herald Tribune|accessdate=2008-10-05]

See also

* Revisionist Western
* Zapata Westerns
* Curry Western


*"Sunset Riders", a Spaghetti Western themed run and gun shooter by Konami (creators of Contra).
*"Deadlands", a role playing game sometimes described as "The Spaghetti Western... With Meat!"
*"", a Spaghetti Western-themed computer game specially based on the Dollars trilogy
*"", the sequel to "Desperados"
*"Outlaws", a Spaghetti Western-themed computer game
*"Red Dead Revolver", another Italian Western themed video game
*"Bang!", a non-collectible card game produced in Italy and translated to several languages, has a Spaghetti Western theme to it, even keeping the Italian text along with the translated text in the cards


*Weisser, Thomas, "Spaghetti Westerns: the Good, the Bad and the Violent — 558 Eurowesterns and Their Personnel", 1961–1977. (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1992)

External links

* [ A Fistful of Westerns]
* [ The Spaghetti Western Database]
* [ A Fistful of Pasta]
* [ 10,000 Ways to Die] Book about Spaghetti Westerns made between 1963 and 1973, released under a Creative Commons license by its author Alex Cox.

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