My father shared his love of Westerns with me. Over the last few years I find myself thinking about movies that I barely remember—I know that I watched pretty much everything John Wayne ever did, more than once for some of them, but all of these classics are a blur now. Most of these are available in collections for ten or fifteen dollars, so I find myself making plans to go way back and watch them all.
The time for quality entertainment is now, so I purchased a Clint Eastwood box set and started with a Fist Full of Dollars (directed by Sergio Leone). What I realized, was that I had heard the term “Spaghetti Western” all of my life but never watched one. I can’t count all the cowboy movies I have enjoyed since I was old enough to watch television, and yet I have let this entire sub-genre slide by as a foot note.
My trip down memory lane is thus given direction and specificity. A Fist Full of Dollars was hugely entertaining, despite the obvious overdubs and whatnot. I love the music and found the plot fascinatingly similar to modern action movies (go figure). A little research shows that the genre focused on scenery, action, and not so much dialog so that distributing the films in multiple languages would be easier.
I am not going to rate or review A Fist Full of Dollars because most people who are going to watch it probably already have and could teach me a thing or two about Sergio Leone movies. Suffice to say that I enjoyed it and found the minimal amount of money spent on an evening’s entertainment to be well worth it.
A Fist Full of Dollar was released in Italy (after being filmed in central Spain if I am not mistaken) in 1964 and the United States in 1967. The good news is that I have fifty years or more of movie watching to get caught up on. I also plan to dip into my current collection (Tombstone, 3:10 to Yuma, Gettysburg, The Outlaw Josie Wales, Ride with the Devil, and even the Last Samurai). With luck, I will hit the movie theaters to experience Bone Tomahawk, Salvation, and more on the big screen.
The next audio book on my list is Gunsights (by Elmore Leonard).
Why all of this genre immersion? Well, I love these stories. And I am writing my first Western and wondering why I haven’t written here before. My work-in-progress really has me right now. I can’t wait to share it with beta-readers.
Last night I found Once Upon a Time in the West (C'era una volta il West) on Netflix. The opening scene shows the difference between modern action thrillers and even most of the new westerns. There is so much build up to the initial gun battle, which is short. Lots of setting and character visuals. Over the next few months I plan to explore Netflix for all of the old classics. I don't have time to write a long article on this movie, but hope to check in later during the week.
Once Upon a Time in the West
Directed by Sergio Leone
Written by Sergio Donati and Sergio Leone
Staring Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale
Benjamin Walker Colt
Writes westerns driven by suspense, strong characters in bad situations, and the panoramic greatness of the adventurous age.