Spaghetti westerns, beyond Leone - my 20 faves

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it wouldn't be a fair fight if I included Leone really, so many more ppl know those films and let's be honest they're head and shoulders above the rest - but the rest is a lot of fun!

Poll Results

The Great Silence (Sergio Corbucci, 1968) 7
A Bullet For The General (Damiano Damiani, 1967) 2
Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) 2
Face To Face (Sergio Sollima, 1967) 1
Massacre Time (Lucio Fulci, 1966) 1
The Specialists )Sergio Corbucci, 1969) 0
Matalo (Cesare Canevari, 1970) 0
Sartana's Here...Trade Your Pistol For A Coffin (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1970) 0
Return Of Sabata (Gianfranco Parolini, 1971) 0
10,000 Dollars For A Massacre (Romolo Guerrieri, 1967) 0
Johnny Hamlet (Enzo G. Castellari, 1968) 0
Navajo Joe (Sergio Corbucci, 1966) 0
Cemetery Without Crosses (Robert Hossein, 1969) 0
I Am Sartana, Your Angel Of Death (Giuliano Carnimeo, 1969) 0
A Pistol For Ringo (Duccio Tessari, 1965) 0
Run Man Run (Sergio Sollima, 1968) 0
The Great Gundown (1967, Sergio Sollima) 0
Bandidos (Massimo Dallamano, 1967) 0
Day Of Anger (Tonino Valerii, 1967) 0
Texas, Adios (Ferdinando Baldi, 1966) 0

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 September 2023 18:57 (one week ago) link

Django Kill

School of RAAC (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:25 (one week ago) link

which is surreal enough to not count tbf

School of RAAC (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:26 (one week ago) link

Original Django is excellent tho

School of RAAC (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:26 (one week ago) link

Have you seen Matalo? Similar vibe to Django Kill.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:27 (one week ago) link

Half of these films were probably called Django something in Germany.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:27 (one week ago) link

I was about to admit I haven't seen enough of these

School of RAAC (Noodle Vague), Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:28 (one week ago) link

Gotta go with Il Grande Silenzio just for Kinski's unhinged performance.. and of course the snow

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:28 (one week ago) link

Yes, I love me a wintry western and The Great Silence is a top rank one.

A Bullet for the General is probably the 'best' of these that I've seen, but as a Fulci loyalist I had to vote for Massacre Time, which does in some ways anticipate his gorefests later on, it's really intense in an unhinged way (again, similar vibe to Django Kill).

Last Italian Western I saw and enjoyed was Castellari's Kill Them All and Come Back Alone (1968), which sort of reminded me of a Shaw Brothers Kung Fu movie like Five Deadly Venoms - Chuck Connors leads a gang of mercenaries all with different mad skills, almost non-stop action.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 14 September 2023 19:51 (one week ago) link

Thank you for this, I've only seen Django.

ian, Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:02 (one week ago) link

Not seen too many of these but then you can't always rely on the titles as a guide, I've heard plenty of the soundtracks though! Silence, General, Django all top notch.

Monthly Python (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:08 (one week ago) link

The occasional spaghetti western used to show up at odd hours on some of the Freeview channels but I haven't seen any for years.

Monthly Python (Tom D.), Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:09 (one week ago) link

write in vote for tombstone

close encounters of the third knid (darraghmac), Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:20 (one week ago) link

Haven't seen many of these, tbh, but one title on my watch list that is not on this one is "They Call Me Trinity."

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:35 (one week ago) link

Il Grande Silenzio is incredible, so bleak, so beautiful. And my favourite Morricone score to boot

or something, Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:36 (one week ago) link

Winter westerns are few and far between but they rule.

Josh in Chicago, Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:41 (one week ago) link

Now we're talking. I think I've seen every one of these except for Bandidos and Johnny Hamlet. My pick is A Bullet for the General, which nails the political angle that so many spaghettis strive for, plus it's exceptionally well acted.

Runners up: The Great Silence, The Great Gundown (aka The Big Gundown), Django, and A Pistol for Ringo. The first two Ringo films are very different and both worthy, and I just like Giuliano Gemma as a gunslinger.

Josefa, Thursday, 14 September 2023 20:44 (one week ago) link

Ok, it's a Leone film, but an overlooked one: Duck You Sucker! aka "Fistful of Dynamite" with James Coburn and Rod Steiger... it's starts out kinda lighthearted almost and then goes just completely bleak and nihilistic.. great score as well

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 14 September 2023 21:07 (one week ago) link

The Great Silence

Ive only seen that and Django off the list though

Saxophone Of Futility (Michael B), Thursday, 14 September 2023 21:14 (one week ago) link

¡Vamos A Matar, Compañeros! needs to be here.

SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Thursday, 14 September 2023 21:39 (one week ago) link

also The Mercenary by Sergio Corbucci

Andy the Grasshopper, Thursday, 14 September 2023 21:56 (one week ago) link

I've not seen Companeros or The Mercenary yet, saving them up cause it'd be kinda sad to have no more Corbucci classics to look forward to. Also haven't seen any Trinity, I fully endorse the farting and punch ups ethos of Spencer and Hill in theory but worry that sitting through an entire film might be a bit much.

Damiani fully rejected the label of course, arguing that Italians making a film about Mexico has zilch to do with westerns. Which is true but come on, Gian Maria Volonté shooting people in the desert, that's a spaghetti western baby!

In the hater department: I found Kill Them All to be severely lacking in the cast charisma department (Wolff excepted) and the fact that the baddies behaved like grunts in a video game on easy mode really undercut the action. Fistful Of Dynamite, despite the great score, feels like Leone flailing, struggling to keep up with the zapata/political western trend; the pathos is overblown and the worldview conservative bullshit. My Name Is Nobody is also him flailing but this time he's trying to incorporate the comedy western.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 September 2023 22:24 (one week ago) link

Josefa, Bandidos is by the guy who did the cinematography in the first two Dollar films and it really has that Leone sheen, just a very visually striking film. Johnny Hamlet is Castellari doing Hamlet in the West, very silly but I dig it.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 14 September 2023 22:28 (one week ago) link

My list would include The Price of Power, another Giuliano Gemma vehicle that reimagines the JFK assassination in the Old West. Fascinating.

Josefa, Thursday, 14 September 2023 22:31 (one week ago) link

The plot summary of Bandidos rings a distant bell, but I couldn’t swear I’ve seen it. And come to that I’m not totally sure I’ve seen Matalo. I’ve been fortunate to see most of these on the big screen as Film Forum in NYC showed a massive spaghetti western series some years ago. Something like 30 films and I caught the majority of them but some films blur together in memory.

Josefa, Thursday, 14 September 2023 22:41 (one week ago) link

Sweet, I own (but have not yet seen) most of these, and the ones I have seen have been great. Django is certainly the best of those, Ringo or Massacre Time the most 'fun'.

Prop Dramedy (Old Lunch), Thursday, 14 September 2023 23:29 (one week ago) link

I think it's between Gundown and Massacre Time for me, although the first Sartana film captures something the later ones don't and I think $10,000 is underrated.

Hello I'm shitty gatsworth (aldo), Friday, 15 September 2023 08:05 (one week ago) link

thanks for this, lots of great stuff to check out here. "Johnny Hamlet" is a great name!

Critique of the Goth Programme (Neil S), Friday, 15 September 2023 08:26 (one week ago) link

BTW, quite a lot of these are on YouTube in pretty decent versions.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 15 September 2023 09:30 (one week ago) link

ha i started looking for them last night but was apparently too pished to operate youtube

whatever happened to gravy brain? (Noodle Vague), Friday, 15 September 2023 09:32 (one week ago) link

No love for Face To Face on ilx? Gian Maria Volonté is a big city intellectual whose fascination with bandit Tomas Millian leads him down a criminal path of Nietschean madness. Political, psychosexual and weird as fuck, plus a great Morricone score.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 15 September 2023 13:49 (one week ago) link

I wonder if anyone has seen all the Sartanas. I think there’s about eight of them. I have a dvd boxed set that I doubt I will ever make it all the way through.

Josefa, Friday, 15 September 2023 17:51 (one week ago) link

I've got the 'Complete Sartana' box set that Arrow put out, which has five films, though there may well be Django-esque Sartana knock-offs not included in it. I've only watched the first one in the set so far, If You Meet Sartana... Pray for Your Death, which was fine, but certainly not top tier. Will have to give Daniel's picks a go too.

Confusingly (for me!), I also have the three-disc Masters of Cinema Sabata set.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 15 September 2023 18:47 (one week ago) link

It’s confusing bc most classic Sartanas have Giuliano Carnimeo directing Gianni Garko, but Carnimeo directed one with George Hilton instead of Garko, and Garko acted in one not directed by Carnimeo. And then there are the less reputable ones…

Josefa, Friday, 15 September 2023 19:01 (one week ago) link

Giuliano Carnimeo meaning, er… Anthony Ascott

Josefa, Friday, 15 September 2023 19:08 (one week ago) link

lol, just did a Sartana search on Letterboxd (which includes alternate titles in the results) and...yeah. Looks like at least 18-ish Sartanas? Probably still nowhere near the number of ersatz Django films.

Prop Dramedy (Old Lunch), Friday, 15 September 2023 19:17 (one week ago) link

(It looks like half the films in this poll were branded as Django sequels at some point/in some market.)

Prop Dramedy (Old Lunch), Friday, 15 September 2023 19:19 (one week ago) link

I once saw Tony Musante, Franco Nero’s costar in The Mercenary, do a brief speech before a screening of that film. Seemed like a very nice guy (and is a New York actor), but imo he’s a little too hammy in The Mercenary. I like him a lot more in Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage just two years later.

Josefa, Friday, 15 September 2023 20:03 (one week ago) link

Killer ( no pun! ) thread by the way!

SQUIRREL MEAT!! (Capitaine Jay Vee), Friday, 15 September 2023 20:12 (one week ago) link


The first Sartana film is no great shakes, it's trying for a giallo thing but by that I mean a mystery plot and lots of scenes set at night, not psychedelic freak out sequences and elaborate killings. Things imo get much better once Carnimeo takes the reins and the franchise becomes this quirky comic book thing. Of the two I picked, I Am Sartana... has Klaus Kinski as a character called HOT DEAD and a climax at an all-gambling town; Sartana's Here (which is the George Hilton one) has a British dandy character called Sabbath and for some reason Sartana really loves hard boiled eggs now. If you own the Arrow set tho it's worth it to watch the interview with Gianfranco Parolini, the director of the first Sartana, to see him use the interview to try to get financing for a terrible looking peplum project. Gotta respect the grindset, that dude's whole ecosystem had collapsed decades ago but he was still trying.

Then there's the crossover Django And Sartana Are Coming...It's The End, which unsurprisingly is not directed by Corbucci, Canimeo or Parolini and does not feature Franco Nero, Gianni Garko or George Hilton.

Daniel_Rf, Saturday, 16 September 2023 08:15 (one week ago) link

Watched I Am Sartana... at the weekend, and yes, definitely a big step up from the first one (and the Arrow 2K restoration looked lush). Could watch a whole Hot Dead franchise: love the scene where he kills a group of gunmen who have ambushed his stagecoach and he straps their corpses to the roof so that he can claim the rewards and fund his gambling habit. Also, the stick of dynamite in the wagon wheel - lots of good paraphernalia business throughout. Laughed at the way it so obviously wasn't Garko's hands doing all the card tricks.

Ward Fowler, Monday, 18 September 2023 10:34 (six days ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

System, Wednesday, 20 September 2023 00:01 (four days ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

System, Thursday, 21 September 2023 00:01 (three days ago) link

Not a bad result. More people need to check out Sollima tho.

Daniel_Rf, Thursday, 21 September 2023 09:28 (three days ago) link

People have mentioned having the Sartana boxed set from Arrow w/ five films... I have a different set titled 'Sartana: The Complete Saga' that has 10 films on 3 discs, from a company called Videoasia. Picture quality may not be ideal.

Josefa, Thursday, 21 September 2023 14:56 (three days ago) link

And yes the poll winner is deserving. I wonder if Sollima's The Great Gundown/The Big Gundown would get votes if were seen more. It's kind of the quintessential Tomas Milian performance and boasts an incredible theme song performed by the Italian singer known as Christy.

Josefa, Thursday, 21 September 2023 15:03 (three days ago) link

the john zorn / morricone LP is called (and opens with a seven-minute version of) "the big gundown" -- tho i don't have my vinyl copy to hand and it isn't on spotify or youtube afaics

mark s, Thursday, 21 September 2023 15:32 (three days ago) link

Great Gundown theme is so great that there's a wedding scene and after just a few beats of the wedding march the band reverts back to playing the main theme.

Daniel_Rf, Friday, 22 September 2023 09:23 (two days ago) link

Forgot to vote, would have been Gundown

Hello I'm shitty gatsworth (aldo), Friday, 22 September 2023 11:21 (two days ago) link

China 9, Liberty 37 is one of the filthiest and most profane westerns ever, and I love every minute of it. I was very fortunate to see it once in 35mm at the American Cinematheque with Monte Hellman in perfect. How can you not want to see a film that has Jenny Agutter AND Sam Peckinpah in the cast?

beamish13, Friday, 22 September 2023 19:38 (two days ago) link

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