Friday, 4 May 2007

A Spaghetti Western Top Ten

A top ten, deliberately limiting myself to one film per director to avoid the dominance of Leone and Corbucci and omitting Once Upon a Time in the West as being more a classic western than an Italian western, as signalled by Leone's desire to say farewell to the Dollars films by having the three gunmen who meet Harmonica essayed by Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach.

1. The Good the Bad and the Ugly – a great film, period.

2. The Big Gundown – Morricone, Sollima, Van Cleef and Milian all at the top of their game, plus some of the most impassioned singing I've heard courtesy of Christy.

3. The Great Silence – the logical extension of the laconic Man of no Name, the baddest of the bad and the bleakest of the bleak - landscapes and endings - make for an unbeatable package.

4. Death Rides a Horse – another dark, complex and satisfying revenge tale; another great Morricone score.

5. Companeros – the best of the political spaghettis, successfully combining its message with solid entertainment, the latter half of the equation being the one that all too many “committed” filmmakers forgot about.

6. The Return of Ringo – the Odyssey as spaghetti western #1 and a beautiful reinterpretation of the classic American western style and mythology.

7. Cemetery without Crosses – what could easily have been nothing more than formulaic Leone pastiche becomes a genuine tribute from filmmakers who really understood what he was doing.

8. Keoma – yes, even with the singing, no worse than Leonard Cohen in McCabe and Mrs Miller; Castellari's post-Leone, post-Peckinpah action sequences bring it all back home once more.

9. Django the Bastard - the supernatural western, with Anthony Steffen's impassive acting style being to the benefit of the whole and another of Luciano Rossi's delightful wackos.

10. My Name is Nobody – the Odyssey as spaghetti western #2 and a fitting farewell to and summation of the spaghetti form.

Let's hear yours...

8 comments:

cinebeats said...

It's really hard to pick a Top 10, but I gave it a go. Here's my list (we share a few favorites):

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966, Sergio Leone)
2. The Great Silence (1968, Sergio Corbucci)
3. A Bullet for the General (1966, Damiano Damiani)
4. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968, Sergio Leone)
5. For a few Dollars More (1965, Sergio Leone)
6. Django (1966, Sergio Corbucci)
7. Massacre Time (1966, Lucio Fulci)
8. Death Rides a Horse (1967, Giulio Petroni)
9. My Name Is Nobody (1973, Tonino Valerii & Sergio Leone)
10. Shanghai Joe (1972, Mario Caiano)

Keoma and Companeros almost made my last as did A Bullet for Sandoval and Duck, You Sucker.

I've never seen Cemetery without Crosses or The Return of Ring, but I'd like to.

K H Brown said...

It is difficult. Even with only seeing somewhere between 70 and 100 spaghettis, admittedly the best ones, I found it a challenge, hence my limiting it of one film per director and the excuse with Once Upon a Time in the West.

Django, Massacre Time and Shanghai Joe were all films I thought about, believe it or not. Django as a competitor with The Great Silence for the Corbucci slot - certainly more influential - and for prefiguring it in the mud, translated to snow in The Great Silence, but also the grotesque element - the ear eating etc. With Massacre Time I probably prefer Four of the Apocalypse, but regardless I think Fulci was an underrated spaghetti director, albeit with part of my evaluation coming from seeing his westerns in horror terms. Shanghai Joe is just such fun - the grotesqueries of his opponents - but also serious in the way that spaghettis were, with the anti-racist element. Also, I like Caiano's style...

cinebeats said...

I completely forgot about Four of the Apocalypse, which is a great film! I do prefer Massacre Time though out of Fulci's westerns.

After thinking more about it, now I wish I would have included Django, Kill... and Django the Bastard as well. I really love the Django series.

I've only seen maybe 30 or 35 spaghetti westerns but even I had a very hard time picking favorites.

Sartana said...

Hi, Keith! Here's my top 10:

1. Great Silence
2. 10.000 Blood Money
3. Cemetery Without Crosses
4. CompaƱeros
5. 15 Forche Per Un Assassino
6. Django, Kill!
7. Tepepa
8. A Bullet for the General
9. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
10. Johnny Yuma

Take care!

Jeremy Richey said...

Fun but hard, here are my personal favorites...

1. The Great Silence
2. For A Few Dollars More
3. Keoma
4. China 9 Liberty 37
5. Django
6. Django Kill
7. A Big Gundown
8. Bullet For The General
9. Four Of The Apocalypse
10. Stranger and The Gunfighter

I posted additional comments and some near misses over at my blog...thanks for starting the topic.

Marty McKee said...

Hi, Keith. I posted my wordy Top 10 list over
on my blog

posterazzi said...

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Son of Django said...

I thought your top ten was limited to one film per director? It seems like Corbucci sneaked in a second. (Great Silence and Companeros)

Anyhow, based on your criteria here's my top ten.

1. The Good the Bad and the Ugly (Leone)

2. Return of Ringo (Tessari)

3. Big Gundown (Sollima)

4. Tepepa (Petroni)

5. Bullet for the General (Damiani)

6. Great Silence (Corbucci)

7. Cemetery Without Crosses (Hossein)

8. $10,000Blood Money (Guerrieri)

9. Johnny Hamlet (Castellari)

10. The Bounty Killer (Martin)

Almost rans were And God Said to Cain (Margheriti), Day of Anger (Valerii) and Django Kill (Questi)