Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Italian Western-The Opera of Violence

  For those not "in the know," so-called spaghetti westerns were/are motion pictures made by Italians, usually in Spain and on occasion with German financing, depicting the American West in ways that Gary Cooper never would have approved. Sex, extreme violence, highly stylized direction and often stunningly original musical scores are the highlights of the best spaghetti westerns such as THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY and SABATA. Many of these films starred American actors such as Clint Eastwood--who became a big star in Sergio Leone's films-- and Lee Van Cleef, always a trivia question in this, his own country, but a huge international star in the seventies. Other TV actors such as Chuck Conners and Richard Crenna tried and failed to make it in Italian westerns so ultimately they invented their own stars such as Tomas Milian and Mario Girotti. Dubbed and with a name change to Terence Hill, the latter became quite popular in America in westerns such as THEY CALL ME TRINITY and MY NAME IS NOBODY, so popular that the big studios tried to capitalize by putting him in big American productions such as MARCH OR DIE with Gene Hackman only to realize that Hill really couldn't speak English well! The book above is probably the first of many books to deal with this peculiar Europeon style of film, a 1974 British volume that spends a lot of time comparing the epic violence of the Spaghetti Western to Grand Opera. 

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