I must confess to being somewhat tardy in acquiring this volume from Glittering Images, only remembering about it when I became aware of their new book in the same series on the giallo (more on which soon).
The subject of the book is the figure of the female in the western, encompassing genre classics, B-grade exploitation films and the WAI or western all'italiana, better known to most of us as the spaghetti western, and in comics, both North American and European.
Or, to be more precise, it is about the woman in the western when she was assigned a more active role than was traditionally the case in the 1920s and 1930s western – and, indeed, would continue to be the case in the majority of genre entries.
The coverage of films is chronological, beginning with the likes of Destry Rides Again (1939) and My Little Chickadee (1940) and concluding with Bandidas (2006), although the bulk of the films featured are from the 1950s through 1970s.
While some of the texts featured are familiar, the vast majority are obscurities likely only known by the specialist. Yet even here, the author's completist approach, in including – for example – Joe D'Amato productions from the 1990s whose raison d'etre is frankly of the pornographic kind (I speak from experience, having been thoroughly bored by his Calamity Jane) means that any and all readers are likely to discover something new.
This is especially apparent – at least for the film-oriented reader – when it comes to the appendix on comic books / fumetti.
The book is typically well illustrated. The stills featured might be criticised as exploitative, but another way of looking at it, one made more clear by posters and other advertising materials, is that this is the entire point.
Unfortunately all the interior images are black and white. Given that this is also the case in the giallo book, this looks to be representative of a change in Glittering Images' wider policy.
One the one hand it perhaps keeps the price down. On the other hand these are, as the imprint itself used to remind us, highly specialist books, or in other words things that are not particularly price elastic. At some level, you / we / I am going to buy it while the casual browser is not, regardless of price.
French readers should also note that, unlike many of Glittering Images' earlier releases, the text is now only in Italian and English. For Italian and English readers, meanwhile, the more parallel approach within the filmography – a one paragraph précis in Italian, followed by a one paragraph précis in English – makes for a nice parallel text for learning the other language. (Note that ironic use of the French there ;-))