Quentin Tarantino Lists His 20 Favorite Spaghetti Westerns

Like many film fans, I grew up famil­iar with the term “Spaghet­ti west­ern,” but I’d near­ly reached adult­hood before fig­ur­ing out what, exact­ly, Amer­i­ca’s most pop­u­lar Ital­ian dish had to do with Amer­i­ca’s once-most pop­u­lar movie genre. But even if they don’t know the spe­cif­ic def­i­n­i­tion of a Spaghet­ti west­ern, those who enjoy them know a Spaghet­ti west­ern when they see one. Ser­gio Leone’s A Fist­ful of Dol­larsFor a Few Dol­lars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; Ser­gio Cor­buc­ci’s Min­neso­ta Clay and Djan­go; Enzo Bar­boni’s They Call Me Trin­i­ty and Trin­i­ty Is Still My Name — if a pic­ture belongs in that com­pa­ny, nobody doubts it.

You’ll notice that all those direc­tors have Ital­ian names, and indeed, west­ern all’i­tal­iana, the Ital­ian equiv­a­lent of “Spaghet­ti west­ern,” sim­ply means “Ital­ian-style west­ern.” These Ital­ian-pro­duced tales of the law­less 19th-cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can west, some­times fea­tur­ing fad­ing or ris­ing Hol­ly­wood stars (as with the young Clint East­wood, who would become iden­ti­fied with Leone’s “Man with No Name”), and often shot in the Span­ish desert, rode high from the mid-1960s to the ear­ly 70s, bring­ing a fresh sen­si­bil­i­ty and vis­cer­al impact which had for the most part drained out of the home­grown vari­ety.

Trust a genre-lov­ing auteur like Quentin Taran­ti­no (and one who made his very own Djan­go a few years back) to know Spaghet­ti west­erns inside and out. While even those of us who nev­er turn down the chance to enjoy a good Spaghet­ti west­ern might strug­gle to name ten of them, Taran­ti­no can eas­i­ly run down his per­son­al top twen­ty:

  1. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Ser­gio Leone, 1966)
  2. For a Few Dol­lars More (Ser­gio Leone, 1965)
  3. Djan­go (Ser­gio Cor­buc­ci, 1966)
  4. The Mer­ce­nary (Ser­gio Cor­buc­ci, 1966)
  5. Once Upon a Time in the West (Ser­gio Leone, 1968)
  6. A Fist­ful of Dol­lars (Ser­gio Leone, 1964)
  7. Day of Anger (Toni­no Valerii, 1967)
  8. Death Rides a Horse (Giulio Petroni, 1967)
  9. Nava­jo Joe (Ser­gio Corbucci,1966)
  10. The Return of Ringo (Duc­cio Tes­sar, 1965)
  11. The Big Gun­down (Ser­gio Sol­li­ma, 1966)
  12. A Pis­tol for Ringo (Duc­cio Tes­sari, 1965)
  13. The Dirty Out­laws (Fran­co Ros­set­ti, 1967)
  14. The Great Silence (Ser­gio Cor­buc­ci, 1968)
  15. The Grand Duel (Gian­car­lo San­ti, 1972)
  16. Shoot the Liv­ing, Pray for the Dead (Giuseppe Vari, 1971)
  17. Tepepa (Giulio Petroni, 1968)
  18. The Ugly Ones (Euge­nio Mar­tin, 1966)
  19. Viva Djan­go! (Fer­di­nan­do Bal­di, 1967)
  20. Machine Gun Killers (Pao­lo Bian­chi­ni, 1968)

You can watch all the trail­ers of these Spaghet­ti west­ern mas­ter­pieces in the playlist above, cre­at­ed by The Spaghet­ti West­ern Data­base. Some may now strike you as dis­arm­ing­ly straight­for­ward about bal­ly­hoo­ing the excite­ment promised by the fea­ture they adver­tise, and you may find oth­ers sur­pris­ing­ly fun­ny and more self-aware. While I defy any­one to watch the entire playlist of trail­ers with­out want­i­ng to dive into this sur­pris­ing­ly lit­tle-explored tra­di­tion, noth­ing gets me quite as excit­ed about watch­ing a movie — old or new, sub­tle or schlocky, genre or oth­er­wise — as Taran­ti­no’s con­ta­gious cinephil­ia.

via The Spaghet­ti West­ern Data­base

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Quentin Tarantino’s Top 20 Grindhouse/Exploitation Flicks: Night of the Liv­ing Dead, Hal­loween & More

Quentin Taran­ti­no Lists the 12 Great­est Films of All Time: From Taxi Dri­ver to The Bad News Bears

Quentin Tarantino’s Hand­writ­ten List of the 11 “Great­est Movies”

Watch John Wayne Star in 25 Clas­sic West­erns: All Free Online

The Great Train Rob­bery: Where West­erns Began

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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  • Dave McGowan says:

    Thank’s for the arti­cle.
    I’ve only seen three of these but thought they were great back when they were new.
    Also watched Good, Bad & Ugly not long ago and it still holds up as long as one does­n’t think too much about his­to­ry (ie:Civil War)and look too close­ly at the firearms.
    That said I think my sto­ries would make just as good a movie, depend­ing of course on direc­tor and cast.

  • Cameron Straughan says:

    Inter­est­ing list. Some obvi­ous choic­es, but includes a few I have yet to see.

    Fel­low fans of Spaghet­ti West­erns might want to check out the lost film “C’era una vol­ta in Tran­sil­va­nia” (AKA: Once Upon a Time in Tran­syl­va­nia).


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