Tag Archives: Italian Western

Simon Abrams “After ‘Django’ came ‘The Great Silence,’ a spaghetti western about bounty killers in Utah”

After 'Django' came 'The Great Silence,' a spaghetti western about bounty killers in Utah   Capital New York

At Captial New York, Simon Abrams wrote a piece lauding Corbucci’s second movie in what you might call the “Django series.” Sergio Corbucci had a habit of remaking the same movie over and over if it were successful. After Django (1966), he essentially made two variations on the plot/character/theme in The Great Silence (1968) and The Specialist (1969). 

Abrams writes:

The Great Silence is an atypical spaghetti western in the sense that Corbucci doesn’t emphasize black humor and surreally sadistic scenes of violence as much as he does in a film like Django. . . 

. . .The Great Silence is an unconventional spaghetti western that takes place, as an intertitle imperiously announces, one “Winter [in] 1899,” in Snowhill, Utah. This is, in other words, a film set in a specific historical moment. And yet it has no more respect for rules than any other spaghetti western: Amorality and a fatalistic air of pessimism dominate Corbucci’s film. . . 

. . . The Great Silence stands up as well as it does today because it takes that intense cynicism we’ve come to associate with the spaghetti western and given it a new context. Tarantino would do well to draw on as much of that sort of innovation as he can.

However, Abrams misses the point when he writes that in The Great Silence “Corbucci doesn’t emphasize black humor and surreally sadistic scenes of violence as much as he does in a film like Django”. The Great Silence plays as though it is an intense, serious, cynical tragedy. And, in some ways, it is. . . almost. When you look at Corbucci’s entire oeuvre, you will find that he makes irreverent burlesques of the Western genre that almost verge on spoofs. He is always putting the audience on. In fact, that is what I think that is going in The Great Silence. I will not ruin the experience with spoilers, but I will ask to think about what Corbucci is actually up to after the impact of the movie passes over you. 

In a future podcast, I will cover the movies of Corbucci. It may be awhile, however, as I have a lot of topic I would love to talk about.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Kevin Phipps at AV Club on Spaghetti Westerns for the unitiated

Spaghetti Westerns · Gateways To Geekery · The A.V. Club

 

Good introduction to the genre by Kevin Phipps. 

Pop culture can be as forbidding as it is inviting, particularly in areas that invite geeky obsession: The more devotion a genre or series or subculture inspires, the easier it is for the uninitiated to feel like they’re on the outside looking in. But geeks aren’t born; they’re made. And sometimes it only takes the right starting point to bring newbies into various intimidatingly vast obsessions. Gateways To Geekery is our regular attempt to help those who want to be enthralled, but aren’t sure where to start. . .

. . .Geek obsession: Spaghetti Westerns

Why it’s daunting: Europe’s fascination with the American West dates back to before the Old West could rightly be called old. German author Karl May began writing about the Native American hero Winnetou and his German blood brother Old Shatterhand in the 1890s, and his stories seeped into the water of European popular fiction and inspired several films from the 1920s through the 1960s. So it wasn’t that odd, really, that Italian director Sergio Leone would decide to shoot a Western in Europe: It had been done before. But the 1964 release of A Fistful Of Dollars, starring minor U.S. television star Clint Eastwood, started a deluge of European Westerns. They quickly came to be known as spaghetti Westerns, thanks to Leone and the number of Italian directors making them, but they were often European co-productions shot in southern Spain with casts drawn from across Europe and the United States. Between 1964 and 1976, hundreds of spaghetti Westerns saw the light of day. As with any vibrant genre, the quality varies greatly from film to film. Furthermore, Leone’s work tends to overshadow his contemporaries’, meaning a lot of good-to-great movies tend to get overlooked by those who stick with the master.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Vincenzoni was known as a spaghetti western scribe, to his chagrin”

RIP Vincenzoni

“Vincenzoni was known as a spaghetti western scribe, to his chagrin”

Co-writer of For A few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. From a syndicated New York Times column from last year, whenVincenzoni died.

Luciano Vincenzoni, an urbane Italian screenwriter who worked with Billy Wilder, Dino De Laurentiis and other giants of film but to his dismay was best known for writing two spaghetti westerns starring a young Clint Eastwood, died Sunday in Rome. He was 87.

The cause was cancer, said Federico Vincenzoni, a grandson.

Vincenzoni contributed to about 70 films, chiefly as a screenwriter or script doctor. His humorous touch could be found in films like “Seduced and Abandoned,” which he made with Pietro Germi in 1964, and “The Best of Enemies,” which De Laurentiis, the producer, released in the United States in 1962.

But to the general public Vincenzoni was most associated with “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” two hugely successful Italian-made westerns directed by Sergio Leone that are now recognized as classics.

“I have written movies that won prizes at Cannes and Venice,” he told Sir Christopher Frayling, a cultural historian and Leone biographer. “These were screenplays for which we suffered on paper for months. Do you know how long it took me to write ‘For a Few Dollars More’? Nine days.”

vincenzoni2

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Edd ‘Kookie’ Byrnes at Memphis Film Festival

Edd Byrnes

Toughest, ‘ginchiest’ stars come out to celebrate Westerns at Memphis Film Festival by John Beifus, The Commerical Appeal

Cool information about the career of Edd Byrnes. It would appear he followed Eastwood and Burt Reynolds to Italy to try and break out of popular TV shows and into film. Edd Byrnes starred in a number of notable Spaghetti Westerns, including Any Gun Can Play7 Winchesters for a Massacre, and Red Blood Yellow Gold.

Edd Byrnes, 80, was a slang-spouting, hair-combing hipster known as “Kookie” from 1958-1963 on the ABC private-detective series “77 Sunset Strip.”

A predecessor to “the Fonz,” Kookie became a cultural phenomenon. In 1959, Byrnes and Connie Stevens recorded a hit novelty single, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your Comb),” and fans emulated the character’s jive jargon. “I’m so far out I’m, like, still orbiting,” said Kookie, whose synonyms for “very good” included “ginchy” and “the maximum utmost.”

“Writers wrote all the jive talk and all the stuff I used to say,” Byrnes said. “It was all news to me; it was foreign to me. When the record with Connie Stevens came about, I said, ‘I’m not a singer,’ and they said, ‘You’re gonna talk-sing, like Rex Harrison.'” . . .

. . . Both Conrad and Byrnes have struggled with alcohol during their careers, but both men say they no longer have “smog on the noggin,” to quote one of Kookie’s lines.

Byrnes arrived in Hollywood on Sept. 30, 1955, the same day James Dean died in a car wreck, but he said the date did not prove to be a bad omen in a busy career that enabled him to work with such directors as William Wellman (“Darby’s Ranger”) and Roger Corman (“The Secret Invasion”), and that brought him a burst of renewed fame in 1978 when he was cast as Vince Fontaine in the musical “Grease.”

“My son always reminds me, ‘You drove out to California, you had $300, you were a high-school dropout.’ For a guy like that, I’ve been blessed.”

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Swide’s Valentina Zannoi on “Giuliano Gemma: Spaghetti Westerns’ Angel Face”

swide

Nice, short introduction to the films of Gemma.

Born in 1938, Giuliano Gemma began his acting career as a stuntman due to his physical prowess. His talent as an actor and his leading man looks though did not go unnoticed, and director Dino Risi first offered him a speaking part next to Alberto Sordi in the critically acclaimed Venezia, la Luna e Tu in 1958.

Gemma’s real break however came in 1959 in an unaccredited role, he was cast as a centurion inWilliam Wyler’s Ben Hur. His looks, and physique then lead him to star in the ironic take on the mythological genre with Arrivano i Titani, (1962) which was a huge success both at home and abroad.

Taking a brief hiatus from the more action based movies, Gemma makes appearances in Visconti’sThe Leopard in 1963, and more from the franchise like Angelica and Angelica alla Corte del Re.

His real success and status as a heartthrob known worldwide was christened with the Spaghetti Western films, where he starred in many oeuvres directed by the biggest names like Duccio Tessari,Tonino Valerii and Sergio Corbucci.

Gemma interpreted over 100 films in his career and later in life moved towards the tv screen.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Interesting lecture by Martin Mystère on Italian Comics and the Western Genre

tex-willer

AMERICA ON MY MIND: Italian Comics and the Industry of Imagination

Looking down through this lecture, I noticed this very interesting paragraph:

Europeans never got tired of Western comics as has happened in the U.S.; Italy, in particular, produces the world’s best-selling Western strip, Tex (500,000 copies monthly). Here again, the explaination is simple: we tend to want (and to mythicize) what we don’t own, and in Europe there is nothing comparable to the Western epics. Reciprocally, popular American literature swarms with barbarians, knights, dragons and magicians: a genre, Sword and Sorcery, that has never taken root on the Old Continent, where the Middle Ages and epic-chivalric literature have existed (and are considered by many young European readers as boring “school subjects”).

 

There is some more interesting info in this lecture. Enjoy!

 

Locandina_Tex_2

 

Tagged , , , ,

More Spaghetti Western Comics “Marvel Tries To Revive the Western… With a Side of Spaghetti”

225px-CalebHammer

Once Upon A Time In The West In Comics  had a nice blog post about Spaghetti western inspired comic books from the 1970s, including an entire story about Caleb Hammer.

During the 1970’s, DC had unleashed a string of Western comics that drew from the spirit of the Italian western films. Although they also reprinted earlier stories of heroes like Pow-Wow Smith and Johnny Thunder, they had introduced more contemporary charcters like Jonah Hex, Scalphunter and Bat Lash.

Marvel, on the other hand, had produced a nearly endless string of reprints of Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid, Two-Gun Kid and Outlaw Kid. Their new Western comics were usually a new story featuring one of their old, Atlas heroes backed up by reprints of their old, Atlas heroes. They introduced Red Wolf, but his adventures were formulaic, and very similar to Atlas’ Apache Kid.

In 1980, Marvel tried to introduce a new style of Western hero. Well, new to Marvel. Caleb Hammer has the look and feel of an Italian Western. Caleb bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain high plains Drifter. And, if it reminds you a little bit of a DC Western from 10 years before, it may be because it was inked by Tony DeZuniga, the original artist on DC’s Jonah Hex.

From 1980’s Marvel Premiere #54, we have “The Coming of Caleb Hammer” by Peter B. Gillis, pencilled by Gene Day and inked by Tony DeZuniga.

 

This earlier post contains an entire early Jonah Hex story:

The recurring heroes in Western comics were traditionally cut from heroic cloth. Guys like Red Ryder, The Lemonade Kid, NightHawk… Maybe some of them wore masks, but they weren’t outlaws or bandits, just guys with secret identities. And even the guys who were “outlaws” were never really bad. Guys like The Rawhide Kid, Kid Colt, The Outlaw Kid, the Two-Gun Kid (Weren’t there any grown-ups in the West?) were branded as outlaws, but they were all falsely accused.

Sure, there were a few misfits, mostly Indians or “half-breed” characters who weren’t accepted by the folks they tried to help. But the reader knew about their troubled, noble hearts and so that was okay.

This approach lasted from the Golden Age of the late 30’s all the way through the 1960’s. And then, in 1971, a new type of hero began to surface in the fabric of American Western comics. The ANTI-hero. What’s an anti-hero?

“In fiction, an antihero is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of thearchetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis.” – Wikipedia

Jonah Hex is not a typical hero. He is not handsome (although he may have been once). He is not noble (He kills men for money). Jonah Hex is a horribly disfigured Confederate veteran who makes his living as a bounty hunter. And he’s mean. Plumb, mad-dog mean.

Enjoy his debut in All-Star Western #10, “Welcome to Paradise”

 

Tagged , , , ,