Saloon, telegraph office and wooden water tower along the dirt road of an old American western town

Spaghetti Western, also known as Italian Western or Macaroni Western, is a broad subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone’s film-making style and international box-office success. –Wikipedia.

Are you familiar with Spaghetti Westerns? Over five hundred of these films were made in the sixties and they are now cult classics. Wildly popular in Europe, they were low budget and released first in Europe and then in the states.

Probably the most well-known of the Spaghetti Westerns are Clint Eastwood’s Dollar Trilogy, also known as The Man with No Name Trilogy and included, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Clint Eastwood became the first megastar of the Spaghetti Western with these films.

Where American Westerns featured the white hat hero with strong moral fiber, the heroes of the Spaghetti Western were cynical loners with a less than honorable past. These heroes are what is referred to as the Delta Hero. He’s dark and dangerous. Typically, a damaged hero who exiles himself from society and takes on loner/outlaw status. Will he do the right thing in the end? The only thing that’s certain is that he is unpredictable.

The cinematographic style of Spaghetti Westerns made the scenery another character in these movies. Desolate, dusty, dry towns and countryside evoked an imagery of death and doom. The films over-utilized long shots, suspense and the element of surprise.

The musical score too is far more memorable and intrinsic to these film than the American Western, often utilizing rock scores and the electric guitar heavily. The music built an increasing sense of tension and suspense. You most likely can remember the music to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Can you recall the thematic music to any American Western? I’m guessing not.

Fistful of Dollars
For a Few Dollars More
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

From the Spaghetti Western Database, I give you the top ten Spaghetti Westerns voted the essential classics of the genre.

1. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -1966 starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

2. Once Upon a Time in the West -1966 starring Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale and Jason Robards.

3. For a Few Dollars More -196 starring Clint Eastwood, Klaus Kinski and Lee Van Cleef.

4. The Great Silence -1968 starring Klaus Kinski and Jean-Louis Trintignant.

5. A Fistful of Dollars -1964 starring Clint Eastwood.

6. Django -1966 starring Franco Nero.

7. The Big Gundown -1966 starring Lee Van Cleef.

8. The Mercenary -1968 starring Franco Nero and Jack Palance.

9. Companeros –1970 starring Franco Nero.

10. Death Rides a Horse -1967 starring Lee Van Cleef.

How about some favorite lines from Spaghetti Westerns?

When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk. – Eli Wallach, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig. -Clint Eastwood, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly.

Alive or dead, it’s your choice. –Clint Eastwood, For a Few Dollars More.

The heart, Ramon. Don’t forget the heart. Aim for the heart, or you’ll never stop me. –Clint Eastwood, A Fistful of Dollars.

Are you a fan of the Spaghetti Western? Any favorites?

Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win a print or ecopy of Falling for the Cowgirl. Two winners! International readers welcome!

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She won the job…

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A freelance writer for over twenty years, Tina Radcliffe has sold over two dozen romances to Woman’s World. Tina is an RWA Honor Roll member, a two-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, and a 2014 ACFW Carol Award winner. She is a 2018 ACFW Mentor of the Year and a 2018 Carol Award finalist. She currently resides in Arizona, where she writes fun, heartwarming romance. Visit her on the web at http://www.tinaradcliffe.com/ 

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  1. Any Clint Eastwood movie is a winning choice. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has to be my number one. He is still a heart throb.
    Enjoyed the history lesson. Thank you.

  2. Good morning and welcome. Well I have loved many of these Westerns, but this was all fascinating news to me that they were spaghetti westerns. Clint Eastwood definitely has left his mark on the film/movie world. Thanks for such an amazing blog.
    May you have a great weekend.

  3. What an interesting blog. I’ve never heard the term ‘spaghetti western’ before. I love Clint Eastwood westerns. I love his gritty, bad guy out for the greater good, rugged characters he portrays. My first movie date was to a Clint Eastwood movie, back when we only had the downtown single screen movies, boy am I old! It was to Sudden Impact, I believe though, and it was not a western. I do like Van Cleef westerns also so I’d have to catch up on my “spaghetti westerns” before I could pick a favorite.

  4. My favorites are the Clint Eastwood Westerns. He knew how to bring it to the movie. Interesting post. God Bless Clint Eastwood who is still do i g movies.

  5. Tina, what fun, and how nice to see you in another venue.
    I’m not familiar with this genre, but enjoyed black-and-white Westerns in the Fifties and am rediscovering them on Retro TV. They’re pretty cool, although they sometimes have holes in the plot you can drive a Zamboni through. But one way or another, we always remain fascinated by the West.
    You don’t have to enter me in the drawing, I bought the book and am about 2/3 of the way through, nice job.
    Your old friend Kaybee

  6. Love old western movies. I have a extended western movie collection from my father in laws. Both were big fans. I have every movie Audy Murphy starred in. All john Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Lee Van Cleef is another favorite of mine. Did you know that Clint Eastwood is a distant cousin of mine. 10 times removed. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Any movie with Clint Eastwood is well worth watching and I love the old westerns myself. I can remember watching them with my dad when I was growing up.

  8. Ennio Morricone’s musical scores are masterpieces. He was a brilliant composer, and I love the way he works those wordless, high soprano voices into his music (like in Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly). I must point out, though, that The Magnificent Seven and The Big Country are American Westerns with memorable scores too. But then, I love movie scores.

    We have a fun spaghetti western card game called Bang–players play the sheriff, outlaws, deputies, and renegade in essentially one massive shootout. All the cards have instructions in both English and Italian. It’s great.

  9. I grew up with my mother loving all Clint Eastwood westerns, so that is all I know! I remember them well. 🙂

  10. Have to Go with A Movie called “Shane”. Loved it. Starting Alan Ladd. Watched it as a child. And cried when the little boy screamed Shane at the end. Always stuck with me. Lol for almost 43 years….good movie

  11. I haven’t watched a single old western. I would much rather read western drama than watch it. Don’t ask me why it makes a difference in my silly brain! Lol

  12. I love anything Clint Eastwood has put out Sphaghetti Westerns and all. I love Western Movies of any kind but especially the older classics.
    Tina Radcliffe your book sounds wonderful and would love to read it.
    Have a Blessed Evening

    • Glenda! Thank you for the sweet words, every author loves to hear. If you don’t win the book, head over to my web page and sign up for my newsletter. I give away a lot of books!

  13. This book could potentially be the first western type book I have ever read, lol. Sounds like a good one. Thanks for the chance to win it.

  14. I Love spaghetti western, I well remember sitting in front of the tv when I was young and just watching them, They were so much fun. And as others have said they are Classics. I don’t have a favorite as I love them all.

  15. I never saw any of the spaghetti westerns in the theater and really have not watched them on TV.. I have seen parts of a few, but never watched the whole thing. I have watched part of some of Clint Eastwood’s movies. I did watch most of Once Upon a Time in the West -1966, but it was so dark and depressing I didn’t finish it.
    Falling for the Cowgirl sounds good. So typical that women have to prove themselves when they want a job that isn’t what people, mostly men, think is normal for them to do. Too often we must be more than twice as good as a man to get even half the recognition. Thank you for the giveaway.

  16. I’ve only seen a few spaghetti westerns, I think, with Clint Eastwood being the most memorable, along with the sound tracks as has already been mentioned. I guess you’d say I was a mainstreamer who grew up with John Wayne as an idol (esp. The Searchers), and all the TV series from the late ’50s and early ’60s.

      • About The Searchers:

        ” Since its release it has come to be considered a masterpiece and one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It was named the greatest American western by the American Film Institute in 2008, and it placed 12th on the same organization’s 2007 list of the 100 greatest American movies of all time. Entertainment Weekly also named it the best western. The British Film Institute’s Sight & Sound magazine ranked it as the seventh best film of all time based on a 2012 international survey of film critics and in 2008, the French magazine Cahiers du Cinéma ranked The Searchers number 10 in their list of the 100 best films ever made.”

        “The Searchers is a 1956 American Technicolor VistaVision Western film directed by John Ford, based on the 1954 novel by Alan Le May, set during the Texas–Indian Wars, and starring John Wayne as a middle-aged Civil War veteran who spends years looking for his abducted niece (Natalie Wood), accompanied by his adoptive nephew (Jeffrey Hunter). Critic Roger Ebert found Wayne’s character, Ethan Edwards, “one of the most compelling characters Ford and Wayne ever created”.


        P.S. In my post above I meant to say I constantly watched COWBOY TV shows as a kid–not just any TV shows! Cheyenne and Maverick to name two.

      • You’re certainly welcome, Tina. I obviously love talking about westerns! I apologize that these are not spaghetti westerns; I’m obviously off topic. 🙁 In case you’re interested, though, these are the only westerns on the American Film Institute’s Top 100 American films list (2007):

        12. The Searchers (John Wayne)
        27. High Noon (Gary Cooper)
        45. Shane (Alan Ladd)
        68. Unforgiven (Clint Eastwood)
        73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Newman and Redford)

        BTW… There are other lists that include ALL westerns and The Searchers and Once Upon A Time in the West generally rank in the top ten. IMDb sends you to The Playlist that has these two at #3 and #7 respectively. It also has The Good, the Bad & the Ugly at #11, and The Unforgiven at #12 (both Eastwood–yeah!).

        Rotten Tomatoes has a different all western list and order (yeah for Eastwood again!)
        2. The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
        4. The Searchers
        6. Once Upon a Time in the West
        7. The Unforgiven
        9. A Fistful of Dollars

        I’ll stop NOW! Promise!

  17. Yes, Tina, I saw several of the spaghetti westerns and Clint Eastwood became a favorite of mine because of Rawhide on TV and The Good,The Bad and The Ugly. I must say that I preferred the more typical westerns but that is probably because they were what my Daddy loved!

  18. I have heard of spaghetti westerns, of course, but I don’t think I have seen any. At least not those listed. I am a fan of westerns, though, and we have a big collection of John Wayne movies.
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your book.

  19. Music in a Western … Silverado! I love the music in Silverado. I’m that person whose never watched a Spaghetti Western, but when I was growing up Westerns were everywhere on TV — Wagon Train, Laramie, Cheyenne, Maverick, The Virginian, Bonanza,The Rifleman, Johnny Yuma, Lawman, Rawhide, The Rebel, Have Gun Will Travel, Broken Arrow, Hotel De Paree, on and on and on. Now why is it I can remember the names of TV shows way back when and I couldn’t tell you what I had for breakfast today? LOL

    Nancy C
    (don’t enter me in the drawing … I have and LOVE the book)

  20. I liked watching the spaghetti Westerns at the time they came out because the music in the background was so different from the regular Western. Seems like that music helped set the tone for the story and move it along.
    Some of that music is easily recognized today.

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