8 to 9 stars: Genre Classics.

 

DeathSentenceMassacreTimeTheGreatSilence

8 to 9 stars: Genre Classics.

These movies remain within the limitations of the genre, but they are the classics that defined it. They continue to influence contemporary popular culture and are of interest to audience beyond Eurocult film fans. Examples: The Great Silence, The Return of Ringo, The Big Gundown, Massacre Time.

ReturnOfRingoMassacreTime

9 of 9:

The Great Silence (1968,Sergio Corbucci)

Why? Sergio Corbucci’s masterpiece. A stunning reversal on everything you expect from the genre. But even though the movie will move and shock you, in the end it is something of a gag by Corbucci. Ultimately, this movie is akin to the Franco and Ciccio burlesques of popular films ~~ but Corbucci’s insight was to play them straight.  Its not a cheap trick . . . its a great film. This movie is also #4 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

For A Few Dollars More (1965, Sergio Leone)

Why? In the second Dollars film, Leone really flexes his cinematic muscle. A tour-de-force of visual and aural storytelling. One the greatest final gunfights in the genre. This movie is also #3 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Fistful of Dollars (1964, Sergio Leone)

Why? Against the low-budget odds, this film defined the Italian western. Though Leone is the focus of praise, the contributions of Eastwood, Morricone, and others was essential. If any of these individuals was not involved the Italian western ~~ the Spaghetti western ~~ would never have existed. This movie is also #5 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

The Return of Ringo (1965, Duccio Tessari)

Why? Duccio Tessari’s masterpiece. Among the most operatic of all Italian westerns. Over-the-top in terms of story, visual style, and score. This movie is also #18 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

DjangoDjangoKillTheBigGundown

8.75 of 10:

Django Kill (1968, Guilio Questi)

Why? Giulio Questi’s surreal anti-western based on his experiences as a partisan in the Italian countryside after the fall of Mussolini. Stunning and strange. Some might find it slow. This movie is also #19 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

The Big Gundown (1966, Sergio Sollima)

Why? Sergio Sollima’s best film. He would have more compelling stories (Face to Face) and better execution (Run Man Run), but in this movie all of the elements come together. A pulp masterpiece with a populist/ Marxist message, two great actors, and a wonderful score. Genre defining. This movie is also #7 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Massacre Time (1966, Lucio Fulci)

Why? Lucio Fulci’s best western film ~~ maybe his best film ~~ a strange, angular, surreal movie that made George Hilton a star. This movie is also #31 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Django (1966, Sergio Corbucci)

Why? Sergio Corbucci establishes his style (deadpan satirical slapstick?) in this gritty, funny, transgressive film. Genre defining. This movie is also #6 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Keoma (1976, Enzo Castellari)

Why?  Enzo Castellari’s improvised masterpiece, a nostalgic look back to Django and the classic period of the Italian western. You will probably hate the folk score . . . but it will grow on you. This movie is also #15 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

AndForASkyTheUglyOnesKeoma

8.5 of 10:

The Bounty Killer (1967, Eugenio Martin)

Why? Finest of westerns with the JL Marchent “Iberian” narrative. Very cleverly executed. Milian’s first role and one of his best. This film was #15 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

Death Rides A Horse (1967, Guilio Petroni)

Why? Guilino Petroni’s first western has a great Leonesque style. It expanded on the mentor/novice dynamic of For A Few Dollars More and influenced dozens of other films. This movie is also #9 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

And For A Roof A Sky Full Of Stars (1968, Guilio Petroni)

Why?

Cemetery Without Crosses (1969, Robert Hossein)

Why? Robert Hossein’s interesting, somewhat lyrical take on the Italian western. This movie is also #16 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

The Forgotten Pistolero (1969, Ferdinando Baldi)

Why? Ferdinando Baldi’s best film in every aspect ~~ visual style, score, story ~~ is one of the best of the family dramas like Massacre Time and The Return of Ringo. A great example of the Italian western style. This movie is also #41 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

My Name Is Nobody (1973, Tonino Valerri)

Why? Best film of the underrated Tonino Valerri, in collaboration with Sergio Leone, a smart funny revisionist western. This movie is also #17 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Duck, You Sucker (1971, Sergio Leone)

Why? Sergio Leone’s late Zapata western is flawed but moving. Essentially, it is a sober and sad sober look at A Bullet for the General from the violent “Time of Lead” and in the context of the constant failure of Italian political and civic culture. Funny, sad, great score, great cast. This movie is also #12 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

The Mercenary (1968, Sergio Corbucci) / Companeros (1969, Sergio Corbucci)

Why? Fans like to argue about which of Corbucci’s first two Zapata westerns is better ~~ The Mercenary or Companeros. I think that they both rate about the same ~~ both are funny, hey have great scores, essetially the same ‘Bullet for the General’ stories ~~ though each is flawed in its own way. Of course, for Corbucci the revolution was just popular setting for a comedic story. This movie is also #8 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

The Wind is Whistling Beneath Their Feet (1976, György Szomjas)

Why? . . .

Antonio Das Mortes (1969, Glauber Rocha)

Why? Glauber Rocha’s White God Black Devil was a landmark of Brazil’s Cinema Novo, recognized at the Cannes festival and influencing many filmamkers with its battles between outlaw cagnacieros and the government in the blaek Serrao. This film was a more accesible follow-up that was passed-off as a Spaghetti western by distributors. However, it contains many stylistic flourishes which resemble the Italian western. So it is included here as a Eurowestern ‘clone’ ~~ apologies to cinephiles. This is an excellent, interesting, somewhat surreal film.

YankkeDeathRidesAHorseAdiosGringo

8.25 of 10:

Yankee (1966, Tinto Brass)

Why? Tinto Brass’s classic Italian western. Bascially it is a standard bounty hunter plot, but it is executed with incredible style and a fun group of actors. It is unfortunate that Brass did not direct more westerns, as he took Leone’s styles and developed them in his own unique way.

Death Sentence (1968, Mario Lanfranchi)

Why? Perhaps the best of the psychadelic Italian westerns. Non-linear plot, wonderful over the top performances, and a fun lounge-singer score. It takes the essential Italian western set pieces and strips everything else out. This movie is also #45 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!). Also, it is #18 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

Day of Anger (1967, Tonino Valerii)

Why? The pairing of screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi and director Tonino Valerri is as important as the paring of the actors Lee Van Cleef and Giuliano Gemma in making this a pop western classic. An archetypal Italian western. This movie is also #14 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Adios Gringo (1965, Giorgio Stegani)

Why? Most Eurowestern fans are really fans of Leone and his imitators. This means that films in other styles tend to get over-looked. This is one of those films. Stegnani and Ferroni were two directors who used a cinematic plainer style, though I think it is a mistake to say that it is in the American style. This movie is the best in the this style, a stark and dark movie about about two societal outcasts. It is one of the few films in the genre in which rape is something more than a plot device ~~ its implications are explored.

Deadlock (1970, Roland Klick)

Why? Incredible near modern day German western with film noir overtones. Very much in the Italian style. Dark, dirty, desperate . . . not to be missed. Perhaps should rate it higher. Interestingly, it may almost be a companion piece to And For A Roof A Sky Full Of Stars.

Face to Face (1967, Sergio Sollima)

Why? A near masterpiece that could have transcnded the genre . . . but still a very good political western from Sergio Solllima. Great score and incredible performance from Gian Maria Volonte. This movie is also #10 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Johnny Hamlet (1968, Enzo Castellari)

Why? Classic psychadelic western from Castellari, a western Hamlet. Great bold visuals, score, and fun actors. This movie is also #40 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!). Also, it is #4 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

Tepepa (Guilio Petroni, 1969)

Why? Classic Zapata western in the Bullet For A General mold. Strong presence from actors Milian and Welles. Perhaps not as well crafted in some ways as Petroni’s other westerns, but still quite good and effective. This movie is also #29 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Requiescant (1967, Carlo Lizianni)

This movie is  #42 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Jaider’s Gang (1973, Vockler Voegler)

The Price of Power (1969, Tonino Valerri)

Why? Gastaldi, Valerri, and Gemma reunite in a movie about a presidential assasination and cover-up and the troubled relationship of Gemma’s character and two father figures. Very well exectured in a manner similar to Leone’s mature style (Once Upon A Time In The West). The political melodrama is heavyhanded and naive, but this is still an very good and interesting western.

10000BloodMoneyLemonadeJoeDeadlock

8 of 10:

$10000 Dollars For A Massacre (1967, Romolo Guerrieri)

This movie is #27 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!) Also, it is #1 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

Sabata (1969, Ginafrano Parolini)

This movie is #23 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!). Also, it is #16 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

My Name Is Trinity (1970, Enzo Barboni)

Trinity Is STILL My Name (1971, Enzo Barboni)

This movie is#46 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!). Also, it is #19 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot (1975, Damiano Damiani)

Why? Under-rated, fun comedy. Not deep in any sense, but well-made with a good cast. Sequel to My Name Is Nobody.

A Pistol For Ringo (1965, Duccio Tessari)

Why? Movie in which Duccio Tessari defined his western style as a smirking counterpoint to Leone’s. This film inspired numerous imitators. Genre defining. This movie is also #30 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!)

Bandidos (1967, Maximo Dallamo)

Why? This movie is also #33 on SWDB’s list of the best Eurowesterns as voted for on their forums (voting is ongoing!). Also, it is #17 on SWDB’s Alternative Top 20.

Seven Pistols for the Macgregors (1966, Franco Giraldi)

Why?

Lemonade Joe (1964, Oldrich Lipský)

Why? While most genre fans would do a double take at this rating of a silly Czech comedy, I found this to be a very clever and fun satire of the westerns and western capitalism ala Dudley Dooright silent film antics. Very enjoyable.

Speedy Gonzales (1970, Ere Kokkonen)

Why? Perhaps I have rated this a bit too highly, but I really enjoyed this silly Finiish western filled with clever (and not-too-clever) sight gags and slapstick. It riffs on western conventions in cock-eyed manner. Had at least one sequel.

The Good, The Bad, And The Weird (2008, Jee-woon Kim)

Why? Excellent, well-made homage to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. Great action, fun actors. It misses the deeper core of the Italian western, but  it is a very good glossy period action film.

Rating the Eurowesterns: 7 to 7.75 stars: The Good.

To Rating the Eurowesterns: What the Ratings Mean

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