Monday, January 7, 2013


I’ve loved Westerns for as long as I can recall, but I must admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I was not always a fan of Spaghetti Westerns.  It wasn’t that I disliked them – I was too much of a snob to give them a chance.  (Ironically, I had seen and enjoyed several, and not realized where they were made.)   My great awakening came with a wonderful show at The Autry Museum of Western Heritage in 2005, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ITALY, the first major museum show anywhere on the films of Sergio Leone.   

After I devoured all of the Leones, I went to the fabled video store Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee HERE , which has a tremendous selection of DVDs and VHS Westerns for rent and for sale, and asked for recommendations.  They turned me on to DJANGO, THE HILLS RUN RED, and many others.  It’s seven years later, and I’m an addict of the pasta genre.

Despite my reputation, I occasionally speak to people who are not particularly Western movie fans, and it’s always great to introduce them to this wonderful genre.  Coming up to the release of DJANGO UNCHAINED, I’ve talked to many Tarantino fans, not normally western-watchers, who wanted to be emotionally prepared for the film.  Others have seen it, been intrigued by the genre, and are eager to see more.  For them, and for those of us who have seen a lot, but would like some suggestions of further fun, I’ve asked several Spaghetti Western aficionados from around the country which films they would recommend – and I’m asking you, the Round-up reader, to send me your suggestions. 

I’ll start the suggestions by saying that seeing the films of Sergio Leone (FISTFUL OF DOLLARS; FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE; THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY; ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, DUCK, YOU SUCKER, and MY NAME IS NOBODY) is a must, and the films of Sergio Corbucci (DJANGO, et al) are a must as well.

Here is Quentin Tarantino’s top twenty list (with my comments after some titles):

1)      THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966), starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach, and as with all the Leones, with a brilliant Ennio Morricone score

2)      FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), starring Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef

3)      DJANGO (1966), starring the European icon of Spaghetti Westerns, Franco Nero

4)      A PROFESSIONAL GUN/THE MERCENARY (1968), directed by Corbucci, starring Franco Nero, Jack Palance and Tony Musante

5)      ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (1968), Leone’s epic Western, starring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Jason Robards

6)      A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), the one that started it all in the U.S., starring Clint Eastwood

7)      DAY OF ANGER (1967), starring Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma

8)      DEATH RIDES A HORSE (1967), starring Lee Van Cleef and John Philip Law.  This is on practically everyone’s list.  With a great Ennio Morricone score.  I’m told Wild East Productions has the very best quality version.

9)      NAVAJO JOE (1966), directed by Sergio Corbucci, starring Burt Reynolds and the great Aldo Sambrell (read a fascinating interview with Sambrell in Courtney Joyner’s excellent book, THE WESTERNERS)

10)   THE RETURN OF RINGO (1965), starring Giuliano Gemma

11)   THE BIG GUNDOWN (1966), starring Lee Van Cleef, directed by the 3rd Sergio, Sergio Sollima

12)    A PISTOL FOR RINGO (1965), starring Giuliano Gemma

13)    THE DIRTY OUTLAWS (1967), starring Andrea Giordana (as Chip Gorman)

14)    THE GREAT SILENCE (1968), starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Vonetta McGee, directed by Sergio Corbucci.  Instead of the usual sun-parched desert, his one takes place during a blizzard, and concerns a  deaf mute gunman facing a string of bounty-hunters.

15)    THE GRAND DUEL (1972), starring Lee Van Cleef

16)    SHOOT THE LIVING AND PRAY FOR THE DEAD (1971), starring Klaus Kinski

17)    TEPAPA (1969), starring Tomas Milian and Orson Welles.  Yes, that Orson Welles.

18)   THE UGLY ONES (1967), starring Tomas Milian

19)    DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN/VIVA DJANGO (1968), starring Terence Hill.  Starting out as Mario Girroti, playing villains in Karl May German Westerns, when Franco Nero wouldn’t play Django again, Hill was made up as a dead ringer for Nero, and became Django.  He’d soon become a huge star in the TRINITY films, and still makes Westerns today – he starred in TRIGGERMAN and DOC WEST back-to-back in 2009!  

20)  GATLING GUN/DAMNED HOT DAY OF FIRE (1968), starring Robert Woods and John Ireland, and some of the best work by both men – the Dorado Films DVD is fantastic!

Rick Knight, of DORADO FILMS HERE and FIRST LINE HERE provided me with the Tarantino list, “…seven of which we at First Line own the rights to.” DORADO and FIRST LINE specialize in European action films of all sorts, including Spaghetti Westerns, meticulously restored.  Dorado has an innovative ‘screener’ program at their website – you can watch some of their movies on-line for free, to help them decide which ones are worth releasing. “We just showed ANY GUN CAN PLAY and GATLING GUN at the Spaghetti Fest in the Clinton Street Theater (in Portland, Oregon) last weekend and plan on showing more of our catalog of 65 to 70 titles around the country as we pick up more theaters who want to participate.

“My favorites for are ANY GUN CAN PLAY (1967, directed by Enzo Castallari, starring Edd Byrnes, George Hilton and Gilbert Roland), which contains all the key elements of a classic Spaghetti Western: greed, bounty killers, double and triple crosses, train robbery, military verses rebels or bandits, flighty women and of course unlikely partnerships. The opening scene has the three mock-ups of Clint Eastwood, Franco Nero, and Lee Van Cleef, all who get shot down by a bounty hunter they call ‘the stranger.’  Another film doing really good on our screeners is Anthony Steffen and Mark Damon in A TRAIN TO DURANGO (1968).  A PISTOL FOR RINGO is a great film with Fernando Sancho and Giuliano Gemma battling, one man against a bandit army. DJANGO SHOOTS FIRST, DJANGO, GATLING GUN, SEVEN GUNS FOR THE MCGREGGRORS all make my list, along with THOMPSON 1880, which includes the history angle of the Gatling and Thompson guns.  They’re always great.  The impossible odds of the lone gunman is usually found in all the genre, making them a man’s favorite and of course the usual love story, of a women falling for the bad boy.”

Wanting the input of someone who was actually involved in the making of the films, I contacted Spaghetti Western star Robert Woods, told him GATLING GUN was one of my favorites, and asked him what his favorites were, among his own works and others. “Good of you to include GATLING GUN, it is fun and one of my favorites. Others include SEVEN GUNS FOR THE MCGREGORS, BLACK JACK, MY NAME IS PECOS, FOUR DOLLARS WORTH OF VENGEANCE, STARBLACK and EL PURO.  There are over forty more Westerns to choose from...including some that I liked and some I didn't... and a bunch of others, including some Italian Comedy, Adventure, the Jess Franco films I did and of course, BATTLE OF THE BULGE.  My favorite Westerns of the past are VERA CRUZ and THE WILD BUNCH.  My favorite Italian Westerns made by other actors include almost everything Tomas Milian did and Clint's THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.”   

I asked C. Courtney Joyner, screenwriter, director and author of THE WESTERNERS, a fascinating book of interviews with Western filmmakers and stars, for his ideas.  He told me he’d worked up a list for his column in the Western Writers of America Round-up.  “I mentioned, in no particular order: CUT THROATS NINE (1972) , HELL BENDERS (1967, directed by Corbucci and starring Joseph Cotten), A MINUTE TO PRAY, A SECOND TO DIE (1968, starring Alex Cord and Robert Ryan), FACE TO FACE (1967, directed by Sollima and starring Tomas Milian), THE BIG GUNDOWN, A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL (1966, directed by Damiano Damiani starring Gian Maria Volonte and Klaus Kinski),  KEOMA (1976, starring Franco Nero, Woody Strode, and directed by Enzo Castellari), DUCK, YOU SUCKER (1971, starring James Coburn and Rod Steiger), MY NAME IS NOBODY (1973, starring Terence Hill and Henry Fonda),  SARTANA - YOUR ANGEL OF DEATH (1969, starring Gian Garco) , COMPANEROS (1970, directed by Corbucci, starring Franco Nero, Tomas Milian and Jack Palance), DEATH RIDES A HORSE, THE GRAND DUEL and NAVAJO JOE.”  Incidentally, a remake of the very violent CUT THROATS NINE, starring Harvey Keitel, was announced more than a year ago, but I’ve heard nothing since.

Andrew A. Erish teaches film history and aesthetics at Chapman University, and recently wrote the terrific biography COL. WILLIAM N. SELIG – THE MAN WHO INVENTED HOLLYWOOD.  “Off the top of my head, how about BLINDMAN (1971) with Tony Anthony and Ringo, the TRINITY films (BOOT HILL (1969), MY NAME IS TRINITY (1970), TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME (1971)) with Terence Hill and Bud Spencer --especially the first one.  Another Terence Hill film I recently saw called THE MAN FROM THE EAST (1972 - not to be confused with the Tom Mix film made for Selig!), the film with John Philip Law and Lee Van Cleef,  DEATH RIDES A HORSE, James Coburn and Bud Spencer in A REASON TO LIVE, A REASON TO DIE (1972). I'm sure the Round-Up readers are big fans of Corbucci - COMPANEROS is always worth mentioning - one of my favorites, as well as the original DJANGO.”

Now located in Baton Rouge, Eric Spudic operated Spudic’s Movie Empire in Van Nuys, California, and now runs it on-line.  He used to have Friday night screenings at his store, and introduced me to many of my now favorite Spaghetti Westerns.  “I loved DJANGO UNCHAINED, Henry! Maybe a bit long, but it does the trick. I would recommend DEATH RIDES A HORSE, starring Lee Van Cleef and John Phillip Law;
MASSACRE TIME (1966), starring Franco Nero; A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, starring Klaus Kinski; GRAND DUEL, starring Lee Van Cleef.  And of course the TRINITY series with Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. I just found out that films like THE UNDEFEATED and ALVAREZ KELLY were partly filmed here in Baton Rouge. Maybe I'll have to hunt down the locations!”  If you’re trying to track down hard-to-find movies on DVD or VHS, visit Eric’s site:

Rick Knight of Dorado films put me in touch with Jason Zachary Pott, who runs an independent comic publishing company called NEOtrash Comix.  Based in Portland, Oregon, he brought comic artists and writers together.  “I found that we all had a common interest in Spaghetti Westerns and being a former Film Student, I decided to start a group based around these films: The PDX Spaghetti Western Assoc. & Support Group.” 

Among Jason’s suggestions are DUEL IN THE ECLIPSE (1968) Directed by Jose Luis Merino. “A strange SW where the Gunslinger is into astrology, and times his revenge killings to take place during a solar eclipse. This is, by far, one of the weirdest SW's I have seen in awhile and you either love it or hate it. I choose love.  THE UNHOLY FOUR (1970).  Four inmates in an insane asylum inmates (one played by Woody Strode) are set free when some bandits set fire to their sanitarium as a diversion so they can rob the bank.  THE DIRTY FIFTEEN (1967) A bounty hunter and a group of bandits he is after are all blamed for a family's slaughter by an angry town. A very solid SW and worth the viewing time.  THE FORGOTTEN PISTOLERO (1969)  This is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE Spaghetti Westerns! This was the SW that introduced me to Lenard Mann and instantly I became a fan! The whole film is based on a Greek Tragedy and is absolutely brilliant!   GOD FORGIVES…HIS LIFE IS MINE!  (1968)  A solid bounty killer tale with the lead played by Dean Reed (ADIOS, SABATA!), written by Euro-Crime filmmaker, Fernando DiLeo and by the director of the Spaghetti Western classic, GATLING GUN. I love the grimness of this film.  BANDIDOS (1967) directed by Massimo Dallamano. Story about an expert gunslinger whose hands are mangled by his protege. He joins a circus sideshow to find another young gun to tutor in the way of the pistol so he can use them as a weapon of revenge. Love this one. Dallamano was Leone's director of photography on the first two "Dollar" films but was shut out of the third film by Leone himself. It is said Dallamano made this SW out of anger towards Leone and even though it was made with a minimum budget compared to the "Dollar Trilogy", some consider it equal to Leone's works.  RED BLOOD, YELLOW GOLD (1967) George Hilton, Edd "Kookie" Burns and George Martin play Union soldiers who get caught selling arms to the South. Before they are executed, they are given the choice to go on a suicide mission for a pardon. I love George Hilton SW's and this is one of his best!”

In New York City, Ally Lamaj’s WILD EAST PRODUCTIONS ( has a staggering twenty-six volumes of Spaghetti Westerns, most of them double-features, and with the highest possible standards of quality – often with interviews and other special features.  When I asked for his recommendations among recent releases, he suggested NEST OF VIPERS (1969), starring Luke Askew, which is double-billed with TAILS YOU LOSE (1969) starring John Ericson.  THE BRUTE AND THE BEAST/MASSACRE TIME (1966) stars Franco Nero and George Hilton, and their version features two different English-language soundtracks.  KILLER ADIOS (1968) comes paired with KILLER CALIBRE 32, both starring Peter Lee Lawrence, the German-born star of many Spaghetti Westerns, who died at just thirty.

I would also strongly recommend, from Wild East, KILL THEM ALL AND COME BACK ALONE, starring Chuck Connors, and ARIZONA COLT, starring Giuliano Gemma, which is paired with ARIZONA COLT – HIRED GUN, with Anthony Stephen in the lead.


Brigitte Bardot, lovely star of such westerns as VIVA MARIA! (1965), SHALAKO (1968) and FRENCHIE KING (1971), may be heading to Russia in Gerard Depardieu’s wake -- and what a wake he would make!  Depardieu (has he made any westerns?) announced his intention to become a citizen of Belgium to escape France’s 75% tax rate on the wealthy.  When he was denounced by the French government, he joked that he already had heard from Russia’s Vladamir Putin that his passport was in the mail.  Unexpectedly, Putin agreed and said Russia would be delighted to have him.  Bardot’s reasons for following are quite different.  A longtime animal activist, she denounced Lyon Zoo’s intention to euthanize a pair of 42 year-old elephants dying of tuberculosis.  On her foundation’s website Bardot says that should the elephants be put down, she will request Russian citizenship, “…to flee this country that is now just a graveyard for animals.”


The New York Daily News and TMZ have broken the story that Western star Josh Brolin, of YOUNG RIDERS/NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN/JONAH HEX/TRUE GRIT - fame was arrested just before midnight in Santa Monica on New Years Eve for ‘public intoxication on New Years Eve for 'public intoxication.' Isn't that like arresting someone for wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, or for voting on Election Day? Aside from Roy and Gene and Hoppy, in today's world, how many of our cowboy heroes would have been locked up for 'public intoxication' once a week? HAPPY NEW YEAR!.’  Isn’t that like arresting someone for wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, or for voting on Election Day?  Aside from Gene and Roy and Hoppy, in today’s world, how many of our cowboys heroes would have been locked up for ‘public intoxication’ once a week? 


For the second year in a row their float won the Exceptional Merit in Multiple Classifications Award! This year it was for CLASSIC TRACTOR FEVER! Last year it was a Roy Rogers Tribute, featuring the actual Trigger and Bullet on the float! RFD-TV shows Roy Rogers episodes and movies every week!

I'm having some software problems -- it won't let me upload pictures to go with the articles.  Well, it's almost one a.m., so I'm giving up for now.  I'll try again on Monday. (It worked on Monday!)

Happy Trails!


All Original Contents Copyright January 2013 by Henry C. Parke -- All Rights Reserved


  1. A great book on this subject is Once Upon a Time in the Italian West by Howard Hughes. And I agree with the Tarantino list - the good,thebad and the ugly is liekly the best of the genre.

  2. Here are my favorite SWs other than the Leone, Eastwood films

  3. The best book on the Spaghetti Westerns is Any Gun Can Play by Kevin Grant which came out in May 2011.

  4. What a great bunch of westerns. Like you I was a bit of a snob for some of the early movies, but today I like most of them. Have always liked the Easwood westerns

  5. I'd also like to recommend THE TROUBLEMAKERS, probably one of the few spaghetti westerns of the 90's. It was another Hill/Spencer team-up. And my favorite spaghetti western wannabe? EL CONDOR starring Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown. Written by Larry Cohen. Fantastic picture!

  6. The Great Silence is amazing and so is Death Rides a Horse

  7. Dear Henry and all spaghetti western friends, please take a look at this link:
    Yours kindly
    Anders Gullberg