What is a spaghetti Western? Why do is it called that? How does it differ from a regular Western?
They were shot in Italy where it was cheaper.
By the way, I live in Monterey which is pissin’ distance from Carmel. I see clint out occasionally at bars and such (he owns a few here) and I actually have seen him eat spaghetti!
Did the movies also appear to be cheaper? Or were some of the big famous westerns, (not that I can even name one) filmed in Italy? Was there any other difference in quality? On ‘Who’s Line is it Anyway?’, they always say speghetti western. No one ever asks them to perform a ‘western’. This made me think that speghetti westerns were the B movies of westerns. Is that the case?
Think early Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leoni westerns (‘Fistful of Dollars’; ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’) and compare them to ‘Classic’ John Wayne-type westerns. Usually they were darker, with unclear motivations for the main characters (or completely hidden ones, sometimes).
Most of them were shot in Spain with an Italian director, actors (except the leads) and crew.
Not all the crew was Italian. For instance, one of Sergio Leone’s assistant directors was a young John Landis (director of Animal House, the Blues Brothers, etc.) who had dropped out of high school and ran to Europe to become a filmmaker.
I heard him tell this story at a dinner with him I attended.
I suspect he wasn’t alone.
You can pick them out by watching the speach of the extras. They had to be dubbe din english later to hide the accents.
One of the reasons that the spaghetti Westerns were shot in Europe was that in the early '60’s Westerns started to go out of fashion in the U.S. but were still popular in Europe. American producers lost interest in Westerns, but European ones still wanted to do them.
For more than you ever wanted to know about the spaghetti western genre, read this article. Very thorough. Be aware that the article is continued through a link at the bottom of the page.
Well, maybe Landis was there, but he didn’t get a credit
for his work, at least IMDb doesn’t list it.
I gave up on him anyway after An American Werewolf in London.
MOST of the crews and actors were Italian.
Here is a good webpage on Sergio Leone:
The idea was that westerns did well in Europe, so why not make them there? Any subsequent success in the U.S. would be gravy. So they hired one or two has-been U.S. stars (Eastwood was considered such when the films were made) for the U.S. market and used Italian/Spanish actors for all the other roles (though often with “anglicized” names).
The films revitalized Eastwood’s career and turned him from a vaguely remembered actor from one cancelled TV series into a major star.
I dunno. I heard it from the horse’s mouth.
He also said he hung out with Hitchcock in Hitch’s later years. Sounds like he’s had a great life.
Have you considered the possibility that John Landis was making up this story about working with Leone? Fistful of Dollars came out when Landis was 14 and was presumably filmed almost a year earlier than that. It didn’t play in the U.S. until three years later. I really think that Landis was just fooling with you (or else is a pathological liar).
I dont think that the acting in thes spaghetti westerns was bad, just the sets, and costumes, and such. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, along with A Fistful of Dollars, are damn good movies.
Well, he did say he dropped out of high school to do this. It probably was a few years after a fistfull of dollars. Four years later (when he was 18) they were still making the Spaghetti westerns.
I suppose he might have been making it up, but why should he?
I don’t know why he would have made it up exactly, but then I don’t know why exactly Harlan Ellison made up a story on the spot when I asked him, “Why did you choose that particular latitude and longitude when you titled your 1974 short story ‘Adrift Just off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38* 54’ N, Longitude 77’ 00’ 13” W’?". His answer was “Because that’s the position given in the movie King Kong for Skull Island.” This is ridiculous, not only because no such position is given in any version of King Kong, but also because this isn’t in the South Pacific. It’s about 50 feet south of the corner of 2nd and H Streets NE in Washington, DC. As far as I can tell, he’s never told anyone else that story. Why would a famous person make up an easily falsifiable story to tell to one person, someone like me who’s a nobody?
Ellison is famous for telling absurd stories in speeches at science fiction conventions. I would chalk this up to just a desire to mess with people’s minds, but the stories always seem to make him look better. He has a habit of telling similar stories to people he works with too. It’s easy to assume that famous people you talk with are reliable sources of information, but some of them are willing to make up stuff for psychological reasons that are too deep for me to understand.
Looking through a fansite on Landis, I notice that he also claims to have been a gopher working on the set of Kelly’s Heroes in Yugoslavia in 1969.
The spaghetti westerns had much better sound tracks. I believe it was Ennio Morricone who was respopnsible for most of them. Consider the themes in A Fistful of Dollars, the Good the Bad and the Ugly, and Hang 'Em High. It is amusing that Italian sound tracks are now so evocative of the American West.
You want maxde up stories? You should try Harlan Ellison’s author notes on the dustcovers. By recollection, he’s been a staff-writer on Oprah, saved Brad Pitt’s life by jumping in front of a bullet at the Oscars, driving at 90 miles per hour in a van with Dave Barry (that one may be true), is actually an old black woman, and also ranted at one point about the colors that were removed from Crayola Crayons. Personally, I think he’s simply amusing himself (which I think is a damn good thing in an author).