Film Independent Study on Spaghetti Western Genre

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Another goodie from IB Film. Really just wanted to see if the format works on Booksie, if not, I'll take it down and post in essay format.

Submitted: April 29, 2018

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Submitted: April 29, 2018




Compare the Spaghetti Western genre to traditional Western films. How are they different?

--A Documentary Script--



The following documentary script will be comparing and contrasting the Spaghetti Western genre to that of traditional Western genre. One of the most important aspects is defining a clear difference, especially when considering cultural origin. Another key detail is setting the mood, and therefore a contemporary Western track is alluded to in the script. Additionally, visual aspects will be comprised of stills and short montages of alike shots and concepts, while still making clear the differences between the two genres.





Music fade in: Red Dead Redemption Original Soundtrack- Exodus in America


















V.O. Western movies have been a staple of cinematic culture since the beginning of the 20th Century, where the genre gained fame through movies such as The Great Train Robbery (1903),


Stagecoach (1939),


and The Searchers (1956).


These films were definitive because of, “central plot of the western film is the classic, simple goal of maintaining law and order on the frontier in a fast-paced action story” (


In the words of esteemed film critic ANDRE BAZIN, “he once referred to the western as a form in search of a content” (Understanding Movies, Giannetti 377).


What’s more, the Western genre became a staple of American culture, referred to as, “nearly allwesterns share a central conflictbetween civilization and wildernesscivilization is encroaching orderlaw-enforcement organized settlementsupstanding citizens establish railroadsand cultivated soil wilderness is the untamed aspect of the West wide-open country” (1:15-1:39 transcript) (Genre- “The Western,” DaVega, 2009).


As the V.O fades out, For a Few Dollars More from the Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More (1965) plays.






It wasn’t until the mid-1960’s, years after films like The Great Train Robbery, that the Spaghetti Western genre emerged.


The Spaghetti Western was originally a derogatory term by American critics for Western films made by Italian filmmakers. This was either because of a prejudice against their films, the directors themselves, or the belief that the films were somehow inferior to those of American or Western origin.


The first in the genre was actually viewed as the precursor to the movement that would spark later. Il fanciullo del West (The Boy in the West) was a 1943 film by Italian director and producer Giorgio Ferroni. “Considered the first western parody of Italian cinema and the precursor of the spaghetti western genre” (wikipedia).







The most famous of the Spaghetti Western genre, however, was Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy.


Seen as the establishing point, with director Leone credited with having “invented,” or “redefined” the genre.

These films were noted for their use of extreme close-up shots, singularity of sound (which is the isolation of individual channels of audio that are amplified against a larger backdrop), and, in relation to the actors, the breakout success of Clint Eastwood. His character, “The Man with No Name,” helped to define the genre, and also redefined the Western demographic as a whole.


Given director Leone’s background, one would not have thought his perception of the American West would have been as cohesive as that of a native director. After all, Leone was Italian, and he spoke little English, relying more on action to communicate with his actors who did not speak his language. This was apparent in features like his Dollars trilogy, which connects back to the method of audio isolation, to make a scene come to a still.


Combined with the extreme-closeup shots, landscaping establishments, and the feeling of diegetic isolation between audience and screen, it defined a generation of film.


Something else to take into consideration, though, is that before Leone’s series of movies came out, the American West was portrayed as a rough, yet equally opportunistic landscape.

Films like The Great Train Robbery (1903) reflected this sentiment, with images of bandits storming an economy-class train, which is in itself was a product of the capitalist ideals that took the landscape by storm during the early 1900’s.


The way that directors like Leone changed audience perception of the American West was drastic. It did not paint the morality of the land as a black-or-white issue, but rather recognized the ‘grey area.’ It gave the West a breath of life, in that it removed the American idealistic stance, and instead focused on telling a story where there were no heroes or villains.



As the V.O fades out, The Great Silence by Ennio Morricone plays; from the soundtrack of the film The Great Silence




Leone himself chose the title of his third movie in the series, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” (1966), to show this non-dualistic attitude towards the West.


Named so for the three main characters of the film, each portrayed a different aspect about what Leone thought made the West the genre it had been associated with, and made a storyline.


Instead of relying on American tropes of civilization and sophistication, he rejected these standards and painted a more realistic picture that would provide the groundwork for later films like Django Unchained (2012) & No Country for Old Men (2007), the former of which was a portrayal of the American South, with heavy influence from Spaghetti Western tropes.


Music fade out: The Great Silence


Music fade in: Red Dead Redemption Original Soundtrack- Dead End Alley




The West was an untamed land.



Writer CHARLES EDWIN WINTER put it best in his novel “Four Hundred Million Acres: The Public Lands and Resources,” saying this:


When the culture of the East, its chief characteristic, is added to the strength of body and the strength of mind of the [West], its special contribution, and these two great characteristics are constantly imbued with the spirit of independence and love of liberty which lives in the hearts of the dwellers of the mountain of their main quality added to the national character, there is every reason to believe that we shall have a people and institutions such as will be permanent…”




“With such wealth of resources, of such high education and intelligence, and of such vitality, of such longevity, of such devotion to freedom and hostility to centralization and tyranny as shall enable this Nation of ours to stand indefinitely... ...and to maintain in the future years its manifest destiny of leading the peoples and nations of earth in the principles of free government, constitutional security and individual liberty.”


Under these and under these alone, the faculties, the aspirations and inspirations of mankind may be unfolded into their full flowering to the fruition of an ever greater and more humane civilization.”  


The West has been a frequent genre. A canvas that was once literally and figuratively clear of the mundane influence of external culture, a setting for the, “American Dream,” has become tired colloquialism of a second nature. Point to films like No Country for Old Men (2007) which paints a despot future for the land in its neo-western setting.




Critic RICHARD GILLMORE said that, “it is, and is not, a western. It takes place in the West and its main protagonists are what you might call westerners. On the other hand, the plot revolves around a drug deal that has gone bad; it involves four-wheel-drive vehicles, semiautomatic weapons, and executives in high-rise buildings, none of which would seem to belong in a western” (Gillmore 32).


Co-Director JOEL COEN talked about the movie and its genre, and what it means within that genre. “interesting in a genre way; but it was also interesting to us because it subverts the genre expectations. He did not consider the film a western because "when we think about westerns we think about horses and six-guns, saloons and hitching posts."

The movie itself explores a modern take on the disillusionment of the West.


In an era of syndicate crime, it is dichotomous to the rough, bandit-style commonly associated with the Old West. A Western film, with elements of Spaghetti Western involved, No Country is a contemporary example of the genre.

Music fade in: The Professional Gun by Ennio Morricone; from the soundtrack of Liberta (1969)




By the early 60s, the western had been replaced in the public's imagination. Big-budget historical epics such as Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments,and Spartacus, and the Italian genre-film industry took the film industry by storm. Continuing the contrast, and wishing to differentiate itself from its (ironically) Western cousin, the Spaghetti Western focused on several key production elements to set it apart.


The first was location. A majority of the Spaghetti Western films were only partially filmed within the United States. In fact, Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy had filming that principally took place in Spain & Italy.



Leone wanted to distance himself from the stagnance of the American West, and the genre it had become.

Leone is claimed to have become dissatisfied with the unbelievability of the archaic genre, and had observed the ways in which American audiences scoffed at Italian productions of the American West. Therefore, he set about reinventing the genre, and subsequently the Spaghetti Western as a whole.


Mr. LEONE himself had this to say about the process as a whole (interview provided from Youtube, original source unknown, claimant 1984):


“After I did a Fistful of Dollars, I did For a Few Dollars More straight after...and I finished the trilogy with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly… [Following this], I didn’t want to do any more Westerns. I had totally done that kind of story, and I wanted to do Once Upon a Time in America (Leone is referring to a film he completed the year he died, hence his last film, that centered around organized crime within New York City: otherwise stated, a far cry from his typical work within the genre)...


Continuing his thought process, LEONE said:

“I had been told, the first time I came to the States, what a success my movies had been here. And they said they wanted more Westerns. I was free to do [Once in America], but first, westerns...Each was supposed to touch upon a historical point in America, a period of time, much like the structure of the [Dollars Trilogy] had been, styled almost episodically” (Leone 1984).


Actor CLINT EASTWOOD spoke about Leone after his death, and his personal involvement in the films. Specifically, what had set them apart from the rest of the established Western genre (and some of which Eastwood had made appearances in):


I think [the Leone films] changed the style, the approach to Westerns [in Hollywood]. ... They made the violence and the shooting aspect a little more larger than life, and they had great music and new types of scores. ... They were stories that hadn't been used in other Westerns. They just had a look and a style that was a little different at the time: I don't think any of them was a classic story—like [John Wayne's 1956] The Searchers…”


“[It was] that—they were more fragmented, episodic, following the central character through various little episodes."


The work of actors like Eastwood, and directors like Leone, to subvert traditional American values of the Western genre if favor of reality was a harsh truth, and one as vast and plain as the American West itself. It wasn’t until films like A Fistful of Dollars that people considered the morality, wit, and identity of a land that had long since faded into an obscure mess of idealism. Therefore, the once-mocked Spaghetti Western genre was as Western, or American, as any film that was made in the setting to which all of the films refer to. For that, they are all the better for it.


V.O ends


Credits Roll, with the list of sources and contributing artists, along with production team behind documentary listed as per industry standards. Play The Outlaw’s Return from RDR Soundtrack






Black Screen

Slow Fade (5 sec.)



1. Landscape shot from For a Few Dollars More.

(clip excerpt from 0:05 to 0:45) opening the movie with after the title sequence


2.Fade Between several different 2a. establishing, 2b. opening clips, taken from mostly Spaghetti Western films. Particular focus on the Dollars Trilogy:


3. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) from Sergio Leone

(clip excerpt from 0:28 to 0:35) a medium wide shot of a character sitting in the shade to a wide shot of the land


4. Arizona(1940) from Wesley Ruggles

(clip excerpt from 0:00 to 0:07)


5a. Great Train Robbery (1903) is shown, from 7:02 to 7:05, characters jumping from the train


5b.Stagecoach (1939) (excerpt from 19:56 to 20:02), showing a movement of carriages and dust swelling up on a dusty trail


6.The Searchers (1956) (excerpt from 0:10 to 0:21), with a tracking medium wide shot of a woman opening a door and stepping out of her door to an empty landscape


7.A shot from Stagecoach (excerpt from 32:32 to 33:00) where a single rider is pursuing a much larger group ahead of him, in a desperate bid to keep up. It is wide, and the camera is kept still until he enters the mid-frame, and the background characters are a distant speck. In the following shot, a stagecoach enters from the right side of the frame, and moves until it has entered the background on the left side of the frame.  


8. Opening Scene from The Big Country, a wide shot that shows a country road from right to left, a wagon moving steadily along. Cut on action to a spinning wheel, supposedly from the same wagon in the previous shot.


9. Two stills of the cast from the film The Great Train Robbery


10. Pan between several shots of characters being introduced in films i.e The Man with No Name from Dollars Trilogy riding into town on his horse in A Fistful of Dollars, Sartana from A Fistful of Lead in the opening sequence, doing ditto to above.


11. A scene from Il fanciullo del West (The Boy in the West)where main character Mac Carey is absurdly getting dressed inside of his bedroom whilst his peers look on.




12. A short montage of the opening sequences from each of the Dollars Trilogy.


13. Short montage detailing landscape and Eastwood’s character The Man with No Name. It starts with a scene from A Fistful of Dollars as the Stranger (AKA Man with No Name) rides into town and promptly shoots all four men. Cut to sequence from For a Few Dollars More where the Stranger stares down Lee Van Cleef’s character Mortimer. Cut next to a scene in the graveyard of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Segue directly into next V.O bite.


14. Segue from previous V.O bite to next scene, which is from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly by Sergio Leone. Impasse that features the three title characters standing apart from each other, ready to draw: Eastwood’s the Stranger, Cleef’s Angel Eyes, and Eli Wallach’s Tuco. A shootout occurs, and the Stranger kills Angel Eyes, then proceeds to noose Tuco before shooting him down and riding away.


15. Directly from previous shot, return to The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly ending scene, immediately following the shootout, and then fade to black, indicating a contextual change in narrative.


16. Play The Great Train Robbery (1903), from the opening credits all the way to a scene where the bandits are slowing the train and proceeding to jump off (note: given the length of the film, this should be considered as a continuous sequence of shots rather than an individual shot).


17. Angel Eyes from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is shown in a short montage detailing some of his crimes he committed during the movie. At the same time, shots of the Stranger from the same film show him committing similar atrocities while still contextually being labelled as the hero.  


18. Title sequence still from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” (1966)


19. Short pan from graveyard standoff scene shows each characters face in trademark Leone extreme close-up


20. Dinner scene from Django Unchained, which has Django, played by Jamie Foxx, and Candle, played by Leo Dicaprio, in an intense scene in Candle’s home. Follow shot with scene from No Country for Old Men, which has Javier Bardem’s character killing and driving away from the scene of a crime involving a deputy and a driver.


21. Scene from the movie High Lonesome (1950) and its opening that spans a vast landscape, showing carriages, mountain ranges, fire pits, rocks, earthen land, dusters, the clinking sound of boots, nightfall over prairies, and vast expanses of sparse open land. This is a sequence of shots, and is edited to fit the length of the V.O clip (i.e involves slowing down a majority of the scene to fit the monologue).


21. Shot continued


22. Pan shot from No Country for Old Men at dawn. Cut to action sequence from same film between main characters. Highlight coincidence of three main characters, and strike similarities to Leone’s Good/Bad/Ugly by showing shots of similarity.


23. More action sequence from No Country, followed by behind-the-scenes stills of some of the set and props used during filming.


24. Clip from behind-the-scenes of No Country, interview with co-director Joel Coen on genre and the making of the movie. Run for duration of monologue.


25. Cut to sunrise from opening of movie of No Country following the initial murder and subsequent getaway.


26. Various shots from Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments,and Spartacus. Aim of these shots is to provide a stark contrast from the traditional Western style of filmmaking (in context, this Western style is that of directors, and does not necessarily refer to the genre itself).


27. Stock footage of land in Spain and Italy. In particular areas where Leone was known to have filmed Dollars Trilogy (i.e Madrid, Tabernas Desert, Hoyo de Manzanares). Shots not available from films, rather independently-licensed shots.


28a. Refer to below, fade out from previous stock footage shots.


28b. Show examples of Leone’s distaste with American Western-genre era films. Notable of mind would be John Wayne’s filmography, including Big Jake, or The Searchers.


29a. Refer to below, fade out from previous footage.


29b. Play interview (note: source unknown, claimant found in Youtube video, extract file as original intended). Provide subtitles.


29c. Continued interview with director Sergio Leone


30a. Refer to below, fade out from previous shot.


30b. Interview with Clint Eastwood, by a Mr. John Eliot, also detailed on pg. 114-115 of biography on Leone. Either interview with Eastwood, or shot with narration, voiceover of content is acceptable. In either case, provide visuals.


31. Pan a fading landscape from various Western and Spaghetti Western movies. Show a timelapse from films like The Great Train Robbery (1903) to Stagecoach (1939) to The Searchers (1956) to A Fistful of Dollars (1964) to Unforgiven (1992) to Tombstone (1993) to No Country for Old Men (2007) to Django Unchained (2012).


32. Fade to black.


33. Credits roll


34. Fade out, END




Conard, Mark T. (2009), The Philosophy of the Coen Brothers, Part

1, Chapter: "No Country for Old Men: The Coens' Tragic Western", by Gillmore, Richard.


Eliot (2009), p.114-115 (Clint Eastwood Quote


Elm, Bill, and Woody Jackson. “The Outlaw's Return - Red Dead

Redemption Soundtrack.” YouTube, YouTube, 23 May 2010,


Elm, Bill, and Woody Jackson. “Dead End Alley - Red Dead

Redemption Soundtrack.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 May 2010,


Genre- “The Western,” DaVega, 2009


Jackson, Woody. “Red Dead Redemption - Exodus in America (Piano

Credits Version).” YouTube, YouTube, 8 June 2010,


Martinovic, Paul. “Looking Back at Sergio Leone’s Dollars

Trilogy.” Den of Geek, Dennis Publishing, 18 Jan. 2013,’s-dollars-trilogy.


Morricone, Ennio. “Ennio Morricone - For A Few Dollars More

[HQ].” YouTube, YouTube, 14 Oct. 2007,


Morricone, Ennio. “The Great Silence.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Aug.



Niccolai, Bruno, and Ennio Morricone. “A Professional Gun(1969)-

Liberta.” YouTube, YouTube, 9 Apr. 2008,


“Westerns Films.” An Award-Winning, Unique Resource of Film

Reference Material for Film Buffs and Others, with Reviews of Classic American-Hollywood Films, Academy Awards History, Film Posters., 20 June 2010,


Winter, Charles E. “American West Quotes (6 Quotes).” Goodreads,

Goodreads, 21 June 2004,


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