Growing up I loved watching the late late show. Kids today will never know the thrill of getting permission to stay up and watch the last movie on TV before the station went off the air for the night. My mom and I used to stay up together and watch the Bowery Boys, Universal Studios Monster Movies, and quite a few Spaghetti Westerns.
Many people assume western movies mainly appeal to American or Western audiences but in fact they have an extensive global appeal. Many countries have produced westerns over the years. The Spaghetti Western or western all'italiana (Italian-style western) was a phrase first coined by a Spanish journalist Alfonso Sánchez. This term refers to westerns movies which were produced and directed by Italians.
Other terms began to emerge as other countries began to explore the western movie genre. Paelle Western referred to westerns produced in Spain and Eurowesterns referred to westerns produced in Europe. A great number of westerns were co-produced by two or more countries. Between 1960 and 1978 more than six hundred European westerns were made with the Spaghetti westerns being the most well-known among American audiences, thanks in part, to American actor Clint Eastwood.
Eastwood and Italian director Sergio Leone, had a lot of success together. Spaghetti westerns had been a popular genre in Italy and Europe before this time but it was the work of Eastwood and Leone that really began to capture American audiences. Their Dollar Trilogy (Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) is still loved by western movie fans today.
This success did not come without some controversy. A Fist Full of Dollars was seen as an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1961 movie Yojimbo. Kurosawa won a lawsuit and was awarded all Asian right to the movie as well as 15% of the international box office. Despite this dispute, the Dollar Trilogy went on to be a success for both actors and the director. These movies are still regarded as some of the best westerns of the time. We'll explore more of Leone's westerns in future blogs.
If you haven't seen these movies, I suggest giving one or all of them a try.