View Full Version : Spaghetti westerns

06-06-1999, 11:32 AM
I was watching one of my favorite movies the other night; "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", and I started wondering what language all those great Sergio Leone movies were filmed in.

The three leads; Clint Eastwood, Warren Oates and Lee van Cleef, are all English speaking actors and it is their voices we hear in the American release. Other characters; like Tuco's brother and the Union captain, seem to have had their lines dubbed in English. I recognize both the voices as those used to dub 1960s Hercules movies.

Did the actors just speak whatever language they were most proficiant in and then let the editors and sound guys straighten it out in post-production? How did they shoot scenes between Italian speaking actors and English speaking actors?

PS - The three-way showdown in the cemetary: Absolutely the best marriage of film and music in the history of movies!

06-06-1999, 02:16 PM
>>The three leads; Clint Eastwood, Warren Oates and Lee van Cleef, >>

You mean Eli Wallach

>>are all English speaking actors and it is their voices we hear in the American release. Other characters; like Tuco's brother and the Union captain, seem to have had their lines dubbed in English. I recognize both the voices as those used to dub 1960s Hercules movies. >>

The other actors all largely Italian (some Spanish). There was not exactly a lot of dramatic vocal interplay between the actors (other than the title three) which could not have been covered up by simply filming the scene in whatever language each actor spoke and editing it together for later dubbing for each country.

06-06-1999, 10:46 PM
I agree Bermuda999, but it was my understanding that, while Leone let them speak Spanish if they wanted to, the low budget of these films (the early spaghetti westerns) simply meant also that the soundtracks were just not attended to much and the quality of the synch was not really important, as they knew they were going to distribute them to multinational audiences. The dubbing was crappy, the original mastering was crappy, because they didn't care; they were going for a wide international audience at that time and sound be damned. The synch is awful, from the master.

I must admit, "Fistful of Dollars" is one of my guilty loves. Have seen it mebbe 50 times and can recite virtually word for word. Fav line: "That is MariSol. You chust forget about her."

Have had to forget many such <sigh>.

06-06-1999, 10:52 PM
And BTW, Eastwood refers to his mount in the movie (FFD) as a 'mule.' But it sure looks like a donkey to me. I know the technical diff between a donkey and a mule, but which one is it in this case? Can anyone tell me for sure?

06-07-1999, 07:52 AM
All these movies were shot MOS, which is the technical term for "silent." Dialogue was looped in, sound effects were foleyed, and that awesome soundtract was recorded well after the filming.

The actors still spoke their lines, in order to act out their parts.

BTW, most of Leone's films were shot in Spain, which had locations that looked like the American West, plus a really cheap labor pool.

06-08-1999, 02:35 PM
To half ass-nswer the question of what is the difference between a donkey and a mule. Mules, IRC, cannot reproduce. Only female donkeys, called Jennies can.

And thus my knowledge of Animal Husbandry amazes the masses.....

06-08-1999, 10:34 PM
In some movies, not perhaps these, the American actors were given dummy lines, made up of numbers etc, which would make the italian or spanish seem natural after it was dubbed in.

06-09-1999, 12:47 AM
I don't think THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY (or any Italian film, for that matter) was shot MOS (i.e., "Mit Out Sound," apparently derived from the German accents of some early Hollywood directors).

Sound was recorded on set or on location, but it was used only as a guide for dubbing later. If you ever see outtakes or dailies from old Italian movies, you will hear the actors of various nationalities each speaking in their own native languages, even having dialogue exchanges. This is just how things worked in Italy. While shooting, they concentrated on the visual elements (camera placement, actors expressions), and figured they could handle the vocal-sound aspects with more control in the dubbing studio.

After an Italian film was edited, different versions would be dubbed for distribution in various countries, including one in Italian for the domestic audience and one in English for American export.

The same kind of thing happened with some Japanese films, such as WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS and MONSTER ZERO, which featured American stars (Russ Tamblyn and Nick Adams, respectively). On set, the Americans spoke English; the rest of the cast spoke Japanese. The American voices were dubbed into Japanese for the local audience, and the Japanese cast was dubbed into English for export.

By the way, some Italian movies (such as Dario Argento's horror-thrillers) are just shot in English to begin with, often with recognizeable American actors in the lead. The supporting Italian cast usually has to be dubbed anyway (apparently because their English isn't too good), but you can see that the dubbing voices match the movement of the actors' lips.

06-09-1999, 01:59 AM
"we don't need no stinking badges!"

Contestant #3

06-09-1999, 01:38 PM
┐Insignias? No tenemos insignias. íNo necesitamos algunas insignias apestosas!

(BTW, there wasn't dubbing in Treasure of the Sierra Madres---Huston had the Mexican extras learn their lines phonetically.)

I recently bought a DVD of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly which answers your questions. In addition to the English soundtrack, there is also Spanish and Italian soundtracks. In the Italian soundtracks, it becomes obvious that someone other than Eastood, Van Cleef, or Wallach are saying the lines, and that the extras are speaking in their real voices. The DVD also included scenes cut from the movie which only feature the Italian soundtrack.

It will never happen, but it would be interested to see an undubbed version of one of these spaghetti westerns where you hear both the English and Italian dialogue together, along with subtitles so that you can follow the action.

Incidentally, you can probably guess that I am a Sergio Leone fan from my earlier posts that featured a quote from his greatest movie, Once Upon A Time In The West. I do not dispute the greatness of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, but it is a shame that West is overlooked by many people because it does not star Clint Eastwood. This is unfair to Charles Bronson, who in my opinion, does a better job than Eastwood. Papa Bear, watch this film and see if you don't change your mind about Good having the best marriage of film and music!


"I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way..."
--Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit