Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cinematic Excellence: The Spaghetti Western

From the earliest silent movie we have had numerous of what have been called Westerns. These have been known as Cowboy flicks, and since before the first moving picture there were many stories shared and published about Lawmen, Bounty Hunters, Outlaws, Desperados and Injuns involving both heroic and antiheroic motifs.

The Duke's Legacy is a lengthy one but I find the westerns with this typecast actor to be as wimpy as his real name: Marion.  After watching the craziness of Tarantino's Sukiyaki Western Django I realized that I am not the only one that finds the Italians take on the western to be quite extraordinary.  Ironically "Sukiyaki" was made in Japanese and Western themes with Japanese Actors, while many Italian Westerns copied plots from Japanese classics like Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa which was not an Italian exception with The Magnificent Seven obvious copy of the famed classic Seven Samurai These elaborate plotlines, the beautiful wide shots of the Hoyo de Manzanares or Tabernas Desert in Spain made to look like the South and Southwest United States in the late 19th century, the closeups of newfound prodigious actors such as Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero and Eli Wallach and the time-tested scores of composers like Ennio Morricone. He wasn't the first Italian to make memorable music set to western themes as you might see with one of my favorite and most renown composers, Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini.

Sergio Corbucci made his mark with the original Django starring Nero and had many exceptional westerns to come. Sergio Leone made an even greater mark with the No Name Trilogy in which Eastwood starred and later with Once Upon a Time in the West with Peter Fonda playing largely against type as villainous Frank. Although famous for their violence and testing the established film rating system in many countries, one can see the beauty of these films and their vision of the west.  When one watches these films it is hard not to accept these directors' view of a popular film theme as exceptional. I advise you, the reader, to start with Clint Eastwood's very first western, Leone's Fistful of Dollars, and you will see what I mean.

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