Tag Archives: Spain

Spaghetti Western Theater: Finger on the Trigger (1965)

Synopsis from Spaghetti Western Database:

A group of ex-Union soldiers, trekking towards New Mexico to set up new homesteads, come across a band of Confederate soldiers waiting in ambush for a troop of Union soldiers in pursuit of $10 million in hidden Confederate gold. The Union soldiers, pursued by hostile Indians are trapped in the ghost town where the gold is buried where they must decide to fight off the marauding Indians. Routine western produced in Spain.

Nothing revolutionary, but I enjoyed this film. The Youtube version is pretty poor, but it is a free way to see this film. I believe that it is also available on some of those multi-film DVD packs that sell for under $15.00 US on Amazon.com.

The movie is interesting because it is made by Producer/Director Sidney W. Pink. Here is the beginning of his entry at Wikipedia:

Sidney W. Pink (March 16, 1916 – October 12, 2002) was an American movie producer and occasional director. He has been called the father of feature-length 3-D movies. He is also noted for producing early spaghetti westerns and low-budget science-fiction films, and for his role in actor Dustin Hoffman‘s transition from stage to screen.

Sidney Pink was similar to Albert Band in the early role he played in the Eurowestern genre. His movies are very traditional. He came to Spain to make low budget westerns with American actors. However, he did work with European production companies and talent.

El Dedo en el gatillo (1965) 2

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Coming Soon! Spaghetti Western Trailers: “Seven Jackals” (1974)

 

Here is the trailer for the 1974 film Seven Jackals, directed by Jose Luis Madrid. Having just come across this trailer, I am pretty excited about the movie but have been unable to find a copy so far. The film is not a western, but is instead set in the mountains of Spain during the chaos of the Napoleonic Wars. It is about a band of brigands. While not a western, it looks like it is modelled after them. The director helmed several westerns. And the cast is an great assortment of Eurowestern favorites. Here is cronosmantas’ description of the video:

English trailer for the 1974 Spaghetti Western “Seven Jackals” (aka “7 Jackals” and “Siete Chacales”) starring Anthony Steffen, Gianni Garko and Eduardo Fajardo. Directed by José Luis Madrid.

 

Here is a little bit more information from FlickAnt.

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Weaving authenticity and meaning in genre film: “SHOOTING ‘SIX BULLETS TO HELL’ IN ALMERIA’

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Danny Garcia had an interesting post late last year over at his A Spaniard In The Workz blog. In it, he briefly wrote about wrapping up shooting on a low budget western titled ‘Six Bullets To Hell’. He wrote:

They said we were crazy. And yes, it was hot, it was dusty, it was real hard work but it was also great fun to shoot a real Spaghetti Western with a bunch of great actors and a great crew right in the middle of July AND right in the hottest spot of Spain: the desert of Tabernas in Almería

Almería had been the European Hollywood in the 60’s and 70’s, a good number of films where shot in that area of Spain every year. Fifty years ago, there’d be a couple of movies shot there everyday. Everybody in the small town of Tabernas would be somehow involved in the productions: the shops, the restaurants, horse wranglers, drivers, electricians, carpenters, extras, etc.

The great Frank Braña (R.I.P.), who worked in Almería hundreds of times (even with the Master Sergio Leone in all his westerns) told me there wasn’t a single hotel in Almería when they started shooting there in 1964. The cinema industry helped that city grow big time. . .

. . . As fans of the old Spaghetti Westerns, this was the perfect chance for all of us to shoot in legendary sets like the Oasys (aka MiniHollywood), Sergio Leone’s set, the very same set he built with Carlo Simi in 1965 for For a Few Dollars More (and was also used in classics like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Hannie Caulder, Doc, etc) and also at Fort Bravo, where Ringo Starr did Blindman and where greats like Lee Van Cleef, Jack Palance or Charles Bronson starred in great westerns like Death Rides a Horse, Chato’s Land, etc. So we were literally standing on the footsteps of giants.

What stuck me as I read this was how it showed just how profoundly the Italian westerns of the 1960s-70s completely transmuted the Western genre. The term ‘Spaghetti western’ was coined by American film critics that wanted to mark out these Italian films as cheap knock-offs and fakes. In fact, this is how the Italian filmmakers initially viewed them as well. Look at how the names of directors and actors were changed in order to fool Italian audiences into believing that these were American productions. The most famously example is, of course, Sergio Leone appearing under the alias ‘Bob Robertson’ in the opening credits for Fistful of Dollars (1964) (an alias that actually goes back to his director father and the silent film era).

After Leone had the resources to make big budget productions, he made an interesting choice. He planned on shooting much of his masterpiece Once Upon A Time In The West (1968) in the ‘real West,’ Monument Valley, Arizona. Of course, this was John Ford country. Here, the legendary American director had filmed many of his most iconic Westerns. In deciding to film there, Leone was creating a link with these places, locations, and films. From them, he was gaining something . . . authenticity.

However, after the economic, artistic, and cultural success of Leone and other European filmmakers in remaking the Western from Italian, Spanish, or German perspective things changed. Today, when young filmmakers want to give their films a link to the classic cinematic images and experiences of the past, they don’t travel to John Ford country. They travel to Leone country, the Almerian desert in Spain. In his blog post, Danny Garcia promotes his film by focusing on the locations and actors that provide a link to the Eurowestern boom of the 1960s.

As Chritopher Frayling points out in this great biography of Sergio Leone: Something To Do With DeathLeone inverted the situations and rhetoric of the Hollywood Western to create new and interesting effects. Perhaps this is the ultimately the most interesting inversion that he accomplished.

 

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Context of the Spanish Western

Somewhat interesting video about what was going in Spain at the time that the Marchent brothers, Leon Klimovsky, and others were making westerns. The Marchent family was close to Franco.

The Spanish westerns are something of a enigma to me. The typical story involves a doomed main character whose innocent actions lead to disastrous results. In these movies, violence corrupts the protagonist, making it necessary for society to purge them. This fascinating and strange story has to have something do with the fallout of the Spanish Civil War and life in Franco’s Spain. Does anyone know anything about this? If so, please leave a comment below!

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Short review: Apache Fury (1964, José María Elorrieta)

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Apache Fury (1964, José María Elorrieta)

El hombre de la diligencia

7/10 on the Eurowestern rating scale:

Why so high? A pleasant surprise. Quality direction by Elorrieta elevates this early Spanish b-western above similar movies by directors like Klimovsky. Intelligent use of widescreen, staging, composition in depth, texture, and camera movements reduce the need for multiple shots. At the same time, this technique saves the movie from the static feel of so many other low budget Spanish westerns. Solid low budget film-making ~~ this is why I rate this movie a little higher than I would have expected going in to it. Pan and scan versions would remove this element from the movie and make it much less interesting. However, the mass action is shot in a much more pedestrian manner.

A small group of people at a stage station fight Geronimo’s Apaches and each other in a bid to stay alive. There are a few silly, awkward scenes (including a stage coach attack), but for the most part it works. A very interesting review of this could be written, placing this movie in its context of Fascist Spain. This film is something of a companion piece to Kliimovsky’s inferior Ballad For A Bounty Killer, with the same sets and much of the same cast.

Like other early Spanish westerns, this movie is “leisurely paced” with lots of dialogue, so if you are looking for lots of action this movie will not satisfy you. However, it should be noted that it is no slower or talky than the most near-contemporary b-grade American Indian v. Calvary siege films on which it was modeled.

I am now eager to see José María Elorrieta’s other film in the same vein ~~ Massacre At Fort Grant (1964). Vengeance of Pancho Villa (1967) is increasingly widely available. It is not as successful as this movie, but it is a fairly average Spanish western of middling quality (I gave it 5.75 / 10 stars). He also directed a late western If You Shoot . . . You Live! (1979) that I have not seen available. If you know where to get a copy, I would like to know.

Note: I watched a fairly faded Spanish language version. A fansub .srt was available, but seemed damaged or incomplete.

~~ El Vengador Errante

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Lauching new podcast in August!

I have not added a great deal of content to the site as it has been under construction. However, I will launching a podcast here in early August! There will be bi-weekly episodes and blog posts exploring the Eurowestern genre and reviewing films. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable!

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