A Taste of Spaghetti…Westerns

Spaghetti WesternsGuest blogger Rick 29 presents his picks for the 10 best Spaghetti Westerns:

The long dusters. The dirty towns. Extreme close-ups. Lengthy stares. Dubbed dialogue. And, of course, the Ennio Morricone music. I love a good Spaghetti Western! Here are my top 10 films in this popular genre from the 1960s and ’70s.

1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) – I never cared for the slang term “horse opera,” but “operatic” definitely describes what I consider to be Sergio Leone’s masterpiece. This sprawling saga of a dying West boasts interlocking stories, some marvelous set pieces, a terrific Ennio Morricone score (with unique themes for each of the four leads), and memorable characters (which both support and defy Western film stereotypes). My favorite parts are the opening (it’s a long wait but I love the payoff) and the almost over-the-top showdown between Charles Bronson’s mysterious Harmonica and Henry Fonda’s vile villain Frank.

2. For a Few Dollars More (1965) - My favorite of the Leone/Clint Eastwood collaborations is almost a rehearsal for Once Upon a Time in the West. In the latter film, Charles Bronson wears a harmonica around his neck–and we learn why in the flashblack that explains his need for revenge against Henry Fonda’s character. In For a Few Dollars More, Lee Van Cleef carries a watch that serves the same purpose. Eastwood’s sarcastic humor and Van Cleef’s steely resolve make them a great pair.

3. Trinity Is Still My Name (1972) – The sequel to They Call Me Trinity is funnier than the original, with Terence Hill and Bud Spencer back as the West’s most unlikely–and filthiest–brothers. Hill became a big European star, but his success never translated in the U.S. (though he tried in movies like March or Die with Gene Hackman). His oddball humor works very well in the Trinity Westerns, especially playing against the gruff, burly Spencer. Hill (real name Mario Girotti) and Spencer (Carlo Pedersoli) appeared as a team in numerous films, including other Spaghetti Westerns and contemporary action comedies.

4. The Five Man Army (1969) – I’ll admit upfront that I’m a sucker for movies where someone assembles a team to accomplish a mission (e.g. The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Magnificent Seven, The Dirty Dozen). So, here we have Peter Graves–who knows something about impossible missions–assembling a team of specialists to rob a moving train. Horror film maestro Dario Argento co-wrote it (he and Bertolucci also worked on Once Upon a Time) and Morricone contributed yet another memorable score. Plus, where else can you find James Daly and Bud Spencer in the same film?

5. Red Sun (1971) – OK, it may not technically be a Spaghetti Western, since it was made in Spain with an international cast. Also, I confess there’s not much of a plot (a valuable Japanese sword is stolen and everyone goes after it). But Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune make a fine odd couple, Alain Delon does his patented good/bad guy, and Ursula Andress…well, she’s just there. Still, it’s surprisingly entertaining and holds up well.

6. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) - Most Spaghetti Western buffs probably list this in the No. 1 or No. 2 spot. I might have, too, until I watched it recently. Certainly, the cast is excellent (especially Eli Wallach) and Morricone’s score is his most famous. Many critics highlight how the plot plays out against an elaborate backdrop of the Civil War. Actually, that’s the part I don’t like; it lengthens the film for me and detracts somewhat from the interplay between the three stars. Still, many of the battle scenes are impressive. And, yes, I know I’ll take some heat for placing a classic at number six…

7. Django (1966) - The plot recalls A Fistful of Dollars (see #10), with a mysterious stranger coming between two warring factions in a small town–but the similarities end there. Religious images abound, starting with the film’s protagonist dragging a coffin through the mud and ending with Django, both hands crushed, trying to balance his pistol on a cross as he awaits a graveyard showdown a band of bad guys. It’s an uneven, violent picture (banned in some countries), but the climax may be surpassed only by Once Upon a Time among Spaghetti Westerns.

8. My Name is Nobody (1974) - Another unlikely Leone teaming: this time between Fonda as a veteran gunslinger and Hill as an up-and-coming one. (Techincally, Leone did not make this film, but his influence is all over it and some sources claim he directed some scenes). More an essay on celebrity than a Western, it benefits from an offbeat sense of humor.

9. Sabata (1969) - Van Cleef made other Spaghetti Westerns (including Death Rides a Horse, which I haven’t seen), but this one probably confirmed him as Eastwood’s successor as a solo star. It also helped popularize the “trick weaponry” used in other Westerns (e.g., Sabata carries a pistol that fires from the handle).

10. A Fistful of Dollars (1964) - Obviously, it’s my least favorite of the Leone/Eastwood films, even though it was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. Still, it’s historically significant and the final shootout is a classic.

What’s your favorite Spaghetti Western? Let us know in the comments!

Pasta Pistoleros: 10 Essential Spaghetti Westerns

 

Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café, on Facebook and Twitter . He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course.

  • http://www.themoviewaffler.co.nr/ The Movie Waffler

    “The Great Silence” belongs on this list! Nice picks otherwise though.

    • Jasonrfleming

      The Great Silence is an excellent film I’d also recommend Navajo Joe, The Hellbenders and Companeros all directed by Sergio Corbucci. The only filmmaker who could consistently rival Leone.I’d also recommend A Bullet for the General starring Klaus Kinski, Gian Maria Volonte and Lou Castel. Directed by Damiano Damiani.

    • Rick29

      Definitely need to watch THE GREAT SILENCE again. Also just watched DEATH RIDES A HORSE and was pretty impressed.

    • Ganderson

      “The Great Silence” has such a downer of an conclusion, it’s hard to think of it with anything but queasiness.  It was actually shot with two endings, both of which appear in the recent DVD release, but I still can’t think of it with any affection at all.

  • Aaron

    1. “The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly”
    2. “For A Few Dollars More”
    3. “Fistful Of Dollars”
    4. “Once Upon A Time In The West”
    5. “A Minute To Pray,A Second To Die”

    I haven’t seen the other films on that list.

  • Aaron

    1. “The Good,The Bad,and The Ugly”
    2. “For A Few Dollars More”
    3. “Fistful Of Dollars”
    4. “Once Upon A Time In The West”
    5. “A Minute To Pray,A Second To Die”

    I haven’t seen the other films on that list.

  • Wayne

    Wish I could think of the name of that Italian/Spaghetti western made in 3-D in the 60′s..it wasnt close to the best..but it sure would give the worst one a run for its money!  Does anyone out there recall it?

    • Rick29

      Could you be thinking of Tony Anthony’s COMIN’ AT YA? It was made in 1981, but was a Spaghetti Western and was in 3D. In fact, it started the fad again.

      • Wayne

        You got it, Rick29…wow, was only off by 12 yrs.!  Good job and many thanks…next time will put on my 3D glasses when I watch it…it was pretty blurry the first time, but maybe that made it better… ;)

  • Bryankr

    As far as my favorite to watch, is concerned, I’ll have to go with A Few Dollars More. I am a Clint Eastwood fan leaves me there. When it comes to showing the tremendous acting ability of an actor, THAT leaves me with Once Upon A Time In West! Henry Fonda, a bad guy!? He pulled that off with such fineness that could only be compared with his portrayal of the President in Fail Safe. I love both movies, though.

    • Rick29

      I love the scene in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE where the villain is playing the music from the watch as he’s about to kill Lee Van Cleef…then we hear the same music overlapping and realize Clint is standing there there with Lee’s watch. Brilliant direction.

  • Blair kramer

    Yeah… ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is a unique film, but its subtext is more than a little suspect. Sergio Leone had one major shortcoming that he was never able to shake… He was a silly communist!  OK… You say that doesn’t matter… Not anymore, anyway.  I beg to differ. Allthough his lack of economic understanding didn’t (much) mar his western reworkings of the Japanese films, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is entirely something else. It tells the story of an evil capitalist who hires a killer to eliminate anyone (including children) who gets in his way! You see,  it’s not that there may be something psychologically wrong with the villains of the film.  Oh, no…  The underlying message is quite clear: Capitalism is evil!  It leads to greed! And greed will cause you to do great harm to your fellow man! Yeah… I know… Most westerns are revenge fantasies, and on its surface, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is no different.  But the bad guy isn’t just out for himself as he tends to be in most other westerns. Here,  he’s a tool of the greedy capitalist.  Basically,  it’s thinly veiled communist propaganda!  As a result, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is a great deal less than the masterpiece it pretends to be.  Moreover, superficially speaking, it’s much too long and pretentious.  But hey… How ’bout that Ennio Morricone score?!   

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

      If “Once Upon a Time in the West” is communist propaganda, then the original “Wall Street” is simply capitalistic propaganda that in turn makes the case for “Once Upon a Time in the West.”  Further, in discussing communism, it is also useful to recognize that communism is not a monolithic entity.  Like capitalism, its leaders and adherents have their separate approaches.  For example, the cold war communism of Stalin and and Mao was in no way compatible with the ‘communism’ of Tito’s Yugoslavia or many of the world’s perfectly legitimate communist parties in Italy, Canada or France.  

      “West” may be an anti-capiitalist rant yes, but that does not detract from its ultimate achievement of being one brilliant piece of filmmaking, its anti-capitalist rant notwithstanding.    

      • Blair kramer

        Buffalogrs:  There is no flaw in my “theory.” Jill and her husband may have been entrepreneurs, but they certainly weren’t ruthless businessmen who would do anything, including commit murder, to achieve their ends. Therefore, my “theory” still holds up.

        Gordon:  There is no such thing as “…a perfectly legitimate communist party…”  Marx clearly said that communism involves the “dictatorship of the proletariat” (and, of course, every communist government that has ever existed has been an evil dictatorship). No one in his or her right mind would support any form of dictatorship.  We know what that leads to.  Therefore, since communism always leads to dictatorship… Well…  That means that it is also ALWAYS illegitimate. As such, you may count me out!

        • Jasonrfleming

          “No one in his or her right mind would support any form of dictatorship” actually several million Germans did support such a dictatorship. Just to name one. All through history people have willing supported them.

          • Blair kramer

            Jasonrfleming: The general history of dictatorship notwithstanding, I stand by my comment. No one in his or her right mind would support any form of dictatorship.

    • Buffalogrs

       One giant, gaping, inexplicably ignored flaw in your theory: Jill McBain and her murdered husband, Brett McBain, are ALSO capitalists, and essentially the heroes of the story. They are entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the railroad passing through the town they plan to build.

    • Nils Goering

      Then JOHNNY GUITAR (The film ‘Once Upon A Time in the West’ was based on) was the original communist manifesto.  Joan Crawford as a Lenin figure?

      • Blair kramer

        @ Nils Goering:  Since ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and JOHNNY GUITAR are very different films (to be sure, I was unaware of any connection between the two), I appreciate the satire behind your comment.  Still… Back in the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s, we know that Hollywood had more than a few wealthy and successful writers and directors who played at being “communists.”  Oh well… We all need a hobby. Personally,  I like to paint and build hobby kits…

        • Nils Goering

          The plot structure for OUATITW and JOHNNY GUITAR are the same.  In an interview with Sergio Leone he mentions that  ’Johnny Guitar’ was the inspiration for his film (look it up on the internet).

          • Blair kramer

            @ Nils Goering:  Plot structure…  Hmmm…  Good point.  However, in so far as communist propaganda is concerned, you will find it in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST as opposed to JOHNNY GUITAR. This is true for obvious reasons: Sergio Leone only made ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. He had nothing to do with the much earlier JOHNNY GUITAR. Of course, this isn’t unusual. Films that were “inspired” by earlier works always have their own elements, content, and style. Even re-makes are often, if not usually, very different from the original. THE FLY, starring Jeff Goldblum, is nothing like Al Hedison’s original version of THE FLY.  By the way… Leone may well have been inspired by JOHNNY GUITAR, but I contend that the two films are very different. Whatever relationship there may be, it’s far from obvious. 

          • Jasonrfleming

            If Once Upon a Time in West is thinly veiled communist propaganda. What does that make It’s a Wonderful Life? In it you have the evil capitalist who’s willing to cheat and steal and throw people out of their homes. And in the end jimmy Stewart is saved by the “collective”.

          • Blairkramer46

            @ Jasonrfleming:  I agree with you wholeheartedly!  Frank Capra, the director of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, certainly wasn’t a communist, and yet Mr. Potter, the villain of the film, was as greedy and evil as you can get!  Heck, he evil stole ten thousand dollars! And why did he do such a terrible thing?  Well, he discovered that the money belonged to his rival and competitor!  But surely Mr. Capra,  of all people,  wasn’t trying to offer any kind of communist propaganda, was he?  Well…  No… Apparently, Frank Capra was just a man of his time. You see, banks and wealthy businessmen were demonized during the depression and too many people bought into the demonization. Mr. Potter, The evil, greedy banker, was also a man of his time. He was nothing more than a convenient, one dimensional villain. I guess you might say that he too was a victim of the depression. In any case, Jimmy Stewart and his family may have been much more altruistic,  but in the end, after all is said and done, the Bailey Savings and Loan existed for the profit motive.  They wanted to do well.  They wanted to make money.  It wasn’t an obvious point in the film,  but if they didn’t strive to earn a profit,  the business could not exist. And as such, a lot of people wouldn’t get a loan to build or buy a home. So… No… Upon closer inspection, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE really doesn’t contain any kind of supposed communist message. Whereas, we know that Sergio Leone was an avowed communist who tended to fill his films with thinly vlied communist propaganda. The difference is clear.  And so is the propaganda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. But your point about the “collective” at the end of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE was very amusing. As we all know,  a “collective” amounts to a forced organization of labor on the part of a dictatorial government. However, Jimmy’s Stewart’s friends have gathered to lend their aid and support when they learn that he’s in financial trouble. Such a gathering hardly qualifies as a “collective!”  But thanks for the laugh! 

          • Jasonrfleming

            As to the ” demonization” of bankers quite a lot of the time its richly deserved. Most of the wannabe masters of the universe who run our economy deserve all the contempt. All they done is turn our economy into the world’s largest game of 3 card monty.

          • Blairkramer46

            @ Jasonrfleming:  ”Masters of the universe who run our economy”?!  Woa! Just a minute! I thought we were talking about western movies made in Italy! I simply pointed out the fact that Sergio leone was a silly commuinist, which, in point of fact, he certainly WAS! I don’t envy bankers. I know that some of them have done things they shouldn’t, but I have no doubt that most bankers are much like the rest of us.  They go about their day doing their jobs as best they can. They have no desire to do any harm to anyone. If you think most, if not all, bankers are evil, greedy bastards,  I suspect you may be filled with a little too much anger.

          • Jasonrfleming

            I don’t envy bankers either. When I say masters of the universe what I mean is the delusional mentality of our wal-street types. I have no belief in secret cabals who control the world. Anymore than a belief in black helicopters, death panels, the NWO, the anti-Christ or little grey aliens. As for bankers being like the rest of us unfortunately a large percentage of humanity is greedy, selfish and stupid. It’s something we all must overcome. But I doubt most people spend as much time as our bankers do on how to deduct the services of high priced call girls as a business expense. As too my anger I have my fair share.

          • Blairkramer46

            @ Jasonrfleming:  OK. As long as you’re not angry with ME!  As for bankers, my closest friend of 35 plus years was an executive with a major bank his entire adult professional life before he retired. He raised 3 daughters and stayed married to the same woman from the age of 18.  A more decent man the world has never known. Now… As I already stated in a previous post, there have been a few (MORE than a few,  perhaps) bad apples in the banking industry. But my close relationship with my friend, and other decent bankers to whom he has introduced me, has taught me one plain and simple fact: Criminal behavior is the direct result of a character flaw.  It has absolutely nothing to do with what a man does for a living. Willie Sutton famously said that he robbed banks because “that’s where the money is!” Well…  I suppose some bankers turn to crime because that’s where the money is! But their criminal behavior has nothing to do with their profession.  It’s a matter of character. 

          • Jasonrfleming

            Not angry at all as I posted in the “Do you get into fights about movies”. There’s nothing wrong about arguing over movies most movies are so bland there’s no point. And I would agree with you it is about character unfortunately it seems most of men at the very top of these firms have none. I remember when after the crash all the CEO’s were hauled in front of congress what did the say. Blah blah blah free market blah blah free market free market. As with saying free market would unburden them of any responsibility for their actions. At one point I thought I was watching a B-movie you know the kind were the villagers throw a virgin in a volcano as a human sacrifice to their pagan god. These men worship the market what they don’t seem to realize is its not free. Someone always pays usually the tax payer.

    • Ken Roche

      Detailed critique Blair…as much a history lesson also.
      I initialy got sucked in with these Leone oddities, but pretty soon outgrew them.
      The Man with no name, was at first heading towards being an inventively admireable character
      (could have been impressive in the Randolph Scott vain) but as the character developed
      he simply became a typical greed-driven moron. Lost all the flair for any real lasting interest.

      For me, Leone played like an overgrown schoolboy – - overblown and under developed – -
      Good looking as they went on…but then went on to outstay their welcome.
      Some interest generated along the way, but it had all been done better before. About all thats left is some great music. Then sadly, Eastwood went on to steal the ideas and style, bringing it to a new all time egosentric low…..

  • John Thomas

    “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” is much better tha “Once Upon a Time In The West.”
    Despite its length, every scene advances the plot.  Eli Wallach running through the cemetary looking for the right grave is the best marriage of film and music ever.  The final showdown set the standard for tension and has been copied numerous times by other directors.

  • Pbliek

    Great Silence without a doubt is top 3 with Klaus Kinski in 1st class evil mode. Taste Of Death with John Ireland & Bruno Corazzari an outstanding villain acting like a Nazi commandant is top 20.

  • Michele

    Lots of spaghetti westerns are co-productions with other European countries, including Spain, so I tend to lump them together as Euro-Westerns. And in that way “Red Sun” definitely counts. As far as my favorites: “Keoma” starring Franco Nero and directed by Castellari. And the bizarre “Four of the Apocalypse” directed by Fulci is one not to be missed.

  • Orsh549

    My favorites are many since I have a collection of them. The Trinity Movies and My NAME IS NOBODY in which Leone directed the beginning of the movie, and as far as the Wild Bunch is concerned they did a good job at depicting them because there were over 100 of them. I just got a great collection  from Timeless Media Group  called The Best Of Spaghetti Westerns featuring  all widescreen and totally remastered movies . These movies look like they were made yesterday, and feature many stalwarts of the genre  Giuliano Gemmma, Klaus Kinski, Anthony Steffen, George Martin, Stephen Boyd, and the best bunch of bad guys you will ever see. Great soundtracks by some of the best DeAngelis and Morricone   Another of my favorites is TEDEUM with Jack Palance and Lionel  Standard  a very funny western and Jack is really great and his roll is very funny. I could go on and on so many good ones out there. 

  • Magman

    Ohhhh….all good selections, but you forgot A Fistful of Dynamite !

  • Acolleen1

    My favorite is Once Upon a Time in the West – loved the characters and that great music – had to track down the CD!!

  • Omar Soliman

    As a spaghetti collector, I am very impressed with this fairly brave list by Rick29. Your top 3 are consistant with my tastes. I might not include Red Sun (your own comments about it are fairly wishy washy. I think that matches the film’s tone). I wouldn’t include 5 Man Army either. Tho I might include Have a Good Funeral my Friend. Sartana Will Pay (or some other Sartana movie).

     Once Upon A Time in the West is transcendent. It is a masterpiece that rises to above all of the rest. Undeniably aided by Morricones ethereal score. Although I can see the thought behind Mr. Kramer’s communist theory. It strikes me that exactly the opposite is more the case. It is more anti-communist propagada. Is there really ANYONE in the cast who isn’t out for themselves? Is there anyone with interests that are not greedy and self-interested? Look who wins in the end? Also we are left with Frank coming to find Harmonica to face him down. Long after your evil capitalist is gone from the picture, two self-interested individualists sway the entire story.  Love Trinity, Django & Nobody. Love Sabata (in spite of the music there). Don’t know that I would include Great Silence. Though it is highly regarded among critics, I just do not really enjoy the film (maybe that makes it art). It has a stylish pace that seems to go nowhere. Much like McCabe and Mrs. Miller, the existential (literally a lead character who has no voice) downer ending is not satisfying enough to warrant the time spent on the journey to get there. Whereas, films like Peckinpaugh’s Wild Bunch and Good, Bad & Ugly have endings that genuinely DO satisfy your time spent getting there. They are practically cathartic. But you could say the Great Silence virutally ends somewhere in the middle backend,… leaving several characters just loitering with extreme intent during the last quarter. A Minute to Pray, A Minute to Die,.. again very stylish. But I do not enjoy it enough. Taste of Death is a good choice. Fistful of Dynamite & Death Rides a Horse are good choices. I would vote for It Can Be Done Amigo or Buddy Goes West, as well.

    • Crbarclift

      I couldn’t agree less about McCabe and Mrs. Miller.  I thought that the concluding shoot out in the snow was one of the most beautiful, artistically rendered set pieces that I’ve ever seen.  It was worthy of the entire film, which was character-driven. 

  • Nils Goering

    FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE remains my favorite spaghetti western.  ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is epic and I enjoy it more than THE GOOD, THE BAD and THE UGLY (which is also epic but it does sag in the Civil War sequences).  Lee Van Cleef did a spaghetti Oater called SABATA.  It’s a crazy western and I still can’t figure out his character in the film.  Is he a good guy a bad guy or just a self centered bastard?  The other characters are just as enigmatic and interact confusingly with Van Cleef.  There’s a guy named Banjo (a definitely self absorbed bastard) who packs a rifle inside his banjo and has an on/off relationship with Sabata and there are two ‘sidekicks’ for Van Cleef – an overweight slob who wears a winter coat throughout the film (even in the blazing sun) and an acrobatic indian named Alley Cat.  The plot is muddled and the dialogue is maddening.  One wonders if ,during the dubbing session, the post-production folks just made up words to fit the actors’ mouth movements without any thought to providing an accurate translation from the original screenplay.  As a result, there are plenty of awkward and bizarre speaking moments.  If anyone else saw this movie, can you explain it to me?

  • Don

    The first Italian western I remember seeing is “A Stranger in Town” ,starring Tony Anthony. Lots of peril ,action and suspense; the music was kind of cool & kinky,too. Thanks for your comments & memories; all good . Don

  • SteveInSedona

    Can’t argue with any of the selections here, but I’ve always loved Any Gun Can Play (sometimes called Go Kill and Come Back).  Gilbert Roland was major cool, George Hilton had a Bruce Dern-like quality, Edd Byrnes did a good job, and the big-busted redhead that was Roland’s girlfriend was just plain awesome.  The music was good, although not Morricone-quality.

  • PATRICK PROVO

    YOU ARE SO CLOSE TO GETTING IT RIGHT!  “ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST” IS #1 FOLLOWED BY THE VERY CLOSE 2ND PLACE “THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY”.  YOU ARE ALSO CORRECT IN YOU TAKE ON ELI WALLACH!  HE WAS REALLY SPECIAL IN THIS MOVIE.  HE COMPLEMENTED EASTWOOD IN EVERY WAY.  I AM 65 YRS. OLD AND I HAVE WATCHED ALL THE WESTERNS FROM THE EARLY 50′S ON UP.  HOP CASSIDY, GENE, ROY, CHEYANNE BODIE “CLINT WALKER” AND THE WORKS.  IN MY OPINION, THE #1 MAN OF THE WEST WILL ALWAYS BE …….. CLINT EASTWOOD!!!!!

  • Darth Bloggs

    What no Death Rides a Horse?!

    • Rick29

      I just saw it recently and was pretty impressed. I might bump SABATA for it now.

  • Fogtrope

    Point is well taken as to the CW being a distraction to the G,B&U for me it was a not a problem. Also you may want to compare Fistful of $ to Bruce Willis’s ‘Last Man Standing’. Same plot two warring families and an enigmatic stranger comes into town and becomes a hired gun to the highest bidder. Story is set around the late 1920′s so in that sense it is not a ‘true’ Spaghetti Western. However most all the other elements are the same. 

  • John kline

    I went to spain in 2008 to almeria had a heineken in the bar lee van cleef walked out of the movie set is now a theme park and there are old cameras in the bank of el paso. for few dollars more is the most action packed but for the wandering stranger fistful of dollars is the best its really all about clint eastwood himself and by the way a quote  MY MULE DON’T LIKE PEOPLE LAUGHING LOL

  • John kline

    I HAVE TO TOOT MY OWN HORN AS A SPAGHETTI WESTERN LOVER CATCH http://WWW.YOU-TUBE CATCH CHANNNEL JOHNNY 9148 ONCE UPON A TIME ON A FARM MY HOME MADE VIDEO THIS IS @ FILM FESTIVALS AROUND THE COUNTRY, IN CANADA, AND YES ITALY

  • Joefalls

    For sure it has to be The Good ,Bad and Ugly…..  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ER2E2GJI2X2ND3ZBDYDA57KC3E nickk

    I agree with six of the writers ten. First, Red Sun is in no way a spaghetti western. I am not a big fan of the Trinity films, Sabata, and have not seen ‘Five Man Army’. For me the top ten, eight of which belong to two men. Sergio Leone and Corbucci. To the list this writer has, add Fistful of Dynamite (did the writer not have it because it takes place in Mexico?) Finally add The Great Silence, (Maybe the greatest non-Leone Italian Western ever) and The Hellbenders (If Shakespeare had written a western perhaps this would have been it) In tenth it is a three way tie, Death Rides A Horse (I think Van Cleefs best non Leone Western) Bullet For the General, (With Gian Maria Volente as the good guy, and perhaps something of a Marxist Western) Finally Keoma, (Franco Nero is a late 70′s western, and what a fantastic final shootout, showing the genre was not dead)

  • Nysav

    ..i love “the great silence” and “death rides a horse”

  • Usagiyojimbo6

    Where is “A Fistfull of Dynamite”?   Truly a hidden gem of spaghetti!

  • Shawn

    I have at 200 SW’s so it’s hard to pick a top ten but these are some of my fave’s y’all might want to check out.
    Fistful of Dollars-influenced more films than any other SW
    For a few Dollars More
    The Forgotten Pistolero
    Sartana
    Light the Fuse…Sartana is Coming
    Cemetery Without Crosses
    Johnny Yuma
    Duel of the Eclips
    Big Gundown
    Big Showdown
    Bullet for Sandoval-Ernest Borgnine plays a mean s.o.b.
    Great Silence
    Cut-Throats Nine
    The Return of Ringo
    Adios Gringo
    No Room to Die
    Death Rides a Horse
    Stranger in Town
    The Stranger Returns
    Texas, Adios
    Bounty Killer
    Massacre Time
    Four of the Apocalypse
    Gentleman Killer
    Mattalo!
    Blindman
    Beyond the Law
    The Grand Duel
    The Man Who Killed Billy the Kid
    I am Sartana…Your Angel of Death
    Taste of Killing

    If you get a chance watch the Fistful of Dollars dvd with the cmmentary to undersrand how that film changed the whole genre. I love the strangeness and
    gritty fairytale quality of SW’s. I like the way the bad guyys are more psychopathic and nihistic than American Westerns of the day. By the way there’s 3 amusement parks of Western towns in Spain where over 90% of the SW’s were filmed.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/KNCBOSKK5TD5FNKVGBIG2JX5XI Gene

    High Plains Drifter is one of the best of all time.   I can’t belive no one else has mentioned it.

    • Shawn

      High Plains Drifter is good film but it’s an American Western with influences from earlier SW’s

  • joyce

    Let’s not forget Navajo Joe with Burt Reynolds
    Sabata with Lee VanCleef
    My Name is Nobody with Henry Fonda

  • tiskab

    How about The Mercenary (Il Mercenario), a 1968 spaghetti western classic with Franco Nero as a Polish gunfighter (yes, a Polish gunfighter), Jack Palance and Tony Musante?   Ennio Morricone’s film music (among his best) is an added bonus.

  • Blairkramer46

    @ Jasonrfleming:  I agree with you wholeheartedly!  Frank Capra, the director of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, certainly wasn’t a communist, and yet Mr. Potter, the villain of the film, was as greedy and evil as you can get!  Heck, he evil stole ten thousand dollars! And why did he do such a terrible thing?  Well, he discovered that the money belonged to his rival and competitor!  But surely Mr. Capra,  of all people,  wasn’t trying to offer any kind of communist propaganda, was he?  Well…  No… Apparently, Frank Capra was just a man of his time. You see, banks and wealthy businessmen were demonized during the depression and too many people bought into the demonization. Mr. Potter, The evil, greedy banker, was also a man of his time. He was nothing more than a convenient, one dimensional villain. I guess you might say that he too was a victim of the depression. In any case, Jimmy Stewart and his family may have been much more altruistic,  but in the end, after all is said and done, the Bailey Savings and Loan existed for the profit motive.  They wanted to do well.  They wanted to make money.  It wasn’t an obvious point in the film,  but if they didn’t strive to earn a profit,  the business could not exist. And as such, a lot of people wouldn’t get a loan to build or buy a home. So… No… Upon closer inspection, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE really doesn’t contain any kind of supposed communist message. Whereas, we know that Sergio Leone was an avowed communist who tended to fill his films with thinly veiled communist propaganda. The difference is clear.  And so is the propaganda in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST. But your point about the “collective” at the end of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE was very amusing. As we all know,  a “collective” amounts to a forced organization of labor on the part of a dictatorial government. However, Jimmy’s Stewart’s friends have gathered to lend their aid and support when they learn that he’s in financial trouble. Such a gathering hardly qualifies as a “collective!”  But thanks for the laugh! 

  • rogerscorpion

    Your #1 is MY #1. LOVE Harmonica!

  • mel

    I would add the film”Duck You Sucker”( A Fistfull Of Dynamite) and it’s great Ennio Morricone music score.

  • Marty

    So many to choose from. I loved DJANGO KILL…If You Live Shoot. Massacre Time, Four Of The Apocalypse, Lesser known but also good is A Minute To Pray.. A Second To Die! Fistful Of Dynamite anyone? I know that these titles aren’t the best of the genra, but they deserve honorable mention.
    Marty C
    Palmer MA.

  • Glen Schecter

    “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” is my #1 favorite! Tuco in the bathtub is a favorite scene! “If you’re gonna shoot, shoot. Don’t talk!” A funny parody of this film is on Volume 2 of “Animaniacs” “The Good, The Boo and The Ugly”

  • evrrdy1

    I saw a Guy Madison spaghetti western in the late 60s in which he portrayed Wyatt Earp, working undercover to fight a gang of land grabbing bad guys called Gunmen of the Rio Grande. It was one of the better westerns of that genre, but is nowhere to be found in any spaghetti western collections or on an individual VHS or DVD offering, except perhaps in the European format. If you go to Amazon, you can view posters, but won’t be able to find the film on video. Too bad, since I think it would easily make the list of top 10 spaghetti westerns.

  • Mike Jensen

    Top ten lists are stupid, as the comments below illustrate. Too many subjective factors and few people have seen everything, including them who made the list above, so such lists are seldom truly informed.

    • Mike Jensen

      Meant to type, “including the man who made the list above.”

  • anayjime@yahoo.com

    Vamos a matar compañeros (Franco Nero), A dollar bucatto,etc

  • Durango Kid

    What about “Shane” ?
    You didn’t even mention this classic movie!!!

  • Barney Vincelette

    One mistake Mel Brooks made in “Blazing Saddles” was in the introduction to Rock Ridge. When he showed the saloon and the tables he should have had the cowboys eating pasta.

  • Edward Thomson

    You’re right! You’re an idiot! I consider The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly one of the 10 best films of any kind, and, certainly, the best, by far, of the spaghetti westerns. The music by Ennio Morricone is unmatched in any movie. I’ve read the reviews below. Some have some good points, but most people agree with me.

  • Me darlin’ boyo

    So glad to see you had three Lee Van Cleef’s on your list! He’s one of my all-time fav’s and I love ALL his spaghetti westerns. For pure strange spaghetti western, watch Blindman! It’s literally about a blind gunslinger. Ringo Starr has a great supporting role in it too!

  • KenR

    Sorry Rick 29 (and others) The Italians and Spanish could not make a ‘good’ film about the American west. Your only fooling yourself. The British also tried it and failed. It’s intrinsic to the country of origin. Even Leone’s epic “Once Upon a time in the West” while it looked good back then, in retrospect, is filled with the same foolishness found in “Deaf Smith and Johnny Ears”

    Impossible situations, totally set-up to please the easilly impressed. The ridiculous body counts, and super nasty villans, leaving more people in Boot Hill than live in the towns. Maybe it’s time to grow up, and leave the true west to those that lived it. Great Music, lots of money and stars,
    do not, a ‘good’ film make! Yes, I love a lot of the Music, and once enjoyed some of these movies, but now see the error of my ways. We may have to agree to disagree here, to each his own folly…..

    • Shawn

      KenR- I don’t even think of American Westerns and Spaghetti Westerns as the same genre. The SW’s weren’t supposed to realistic type films. As Leone said, he wanted to create a fairy-tale of how an Italian kid growing up in a Catholic country envisioned the American West. Things like killing with no motive and the torture of one of the main characters just because the bad guys think it’s fun is something not allowed in American Westerns. Fistful of Dollars wasn’t shown in the U.S. because of the censors. I like them because of the strangeness of them, the psychopathic bad guys, and whole idea of a ‘good guy’ that ain’t good. You gotta remember, these were low budget grindhouse type films that were cranked out by the hundreds after the success of ‘Fistful’. They’re basically cult films and I have at least 150 SW’s. A lot of the great Westerns of the 70′s would never have been created without the influence of the SW’s groundbeaking cinematography, anti-hero characters, grittiness and down and dirty nastiness. I guess I posted on here last year under ‘Shawn’ a little further down on the post with some of my favorites. I guess they’re not for everyone but films like ‘Cemetery Without Crosses’, ‘The Great Silence’ and ‘Cut-Throats Nine’ were just far beyond anything you would have seen from an American Western. If you ever get a chance, watch ‘Fistful of Dollars’ with the commentary to understand the evolution of the SW’s which influenced the later American Westerns. Actually there’s 3 theme park towns in Spain that celebrate the backdrop where hundreds of SW’s were filmed back in the mid 60′s to early 70′s. Have a good one!

      • KenR

        …Nice reply Shawn, but it’s as i said, we have to agree to disagree. I prefer the ‘ground breaking’ realism and quality camera work of “The Ox Bow incident” (amid many others) Spagetti or Macaroni whatever your preference, these films offer little more than juvinile foolishness to the world we live in, and killed ‘stone dead’ the ‘western genre’ ~ where is it now, after they made a mockery off it? As for most commentaries, they can make ‘sense’ of the sensless. Leone was living his childish fantasies and out to make lots’a $Dollars on the way. Are we any better off for all the so called ‘gritty psychopaths’? I have grown out of them and now seek a more realistic view of the ‘American’ west. To each his own..?

        Well, I’m off into the sunset in search of Shane…..”Come back the pasta has past”…

  • johnny9148

    keoma and fistful of dollars also my own video of “once upon a time on a farm’ filmed in the usa hey I’m tooting my own horn john kline

  • Shawn

    Rick29-Actually, well over 90% of Spaghetti Westerns were filmed in Spain with mostly Italian and Spanish actors but many American, German, French and other Eruopeans also. Leone was the one who on a visit to Spain, saw the Almeria region as a great place to film Westerns. After the success of his Eastwood Trilogy a floodgate of hundreds of Westerns ended up being filmed in the region with the vast majority of the directors being from Italy which is probably how ‘Spaghetti Western’ got coined. In Japan, they called them ‘Macaroni Westerns’ first which may have led to the Spaghetti term in the U.S.

  • classicsforever

    “Once Upon A Time In The West”. Not just one of my favorite westerns. It’s one of my favorite movies – period. Grand and glorious in every way. The script, directing, acting, scenery and music are all the definition of perfection.

  • Gazza

    Italian westerns, dare I say weird and and for the mentally deficient. They did for westerns what the Japanese did for sci-fi films – completely degraded the genre!

  • David Richardson

    surely its a paella ift it made in spain. not a spaghetti !!!

  • Beyond Category

    Le Vent d’Est is the most unusual Eurowestern.

  • edro3111

    IMO, Morricone’s musical scores were the icing on the cake on many westerns AND dramas as well.

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