Spaghetti Westerns and Why They’re so Awesome

Ethan Kearns, Writer

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During the 1950’s and 1960’s the western genre was one of the most popular genres in the United States. Westerns dramatized the American Old West full of gunslingers, outlaws, sheriffs, and much more.

A hit movie during the 1950’s, and probably one of the best rated westerns at the time was The Searchers (1956). This took on the classic style of the American Western.

So What the heck is a Spaghetti Western?

A Spaghetti western is a type of western film that was filmed in southern Italy or Spain, and directed by Italian directors. So are Spaghetti Westerns and the classic American Westerns different?

One key difference is the budget for these films. American Westerns had a major budget, where as Spaghetti Westerns have a much lower budget. This can be seen by the filming style, and the music, which is a defining factor between the two.

American made films had much higher filming quality to them, and had a noticeably cleaner look to them. Most American made westerns had a more honorable protagonist to them, but with less complexity to their character.

Spaghetti Westerns on the other had a lower filming quality, but this actually gave these movies a personality that we love to this day. The filming style a Spaghetti Western had was more gritty and has a darker mood to it due to the low budget.

The usual protagonist was a character with mixed morals. They are neither good nor bad, and would help both lawmen and outlaws to gain a profit from both sides.

Both American and Italian made westerns have similar themes, but the execution between the two can differ greatly, which leads us to music.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. A movie needs an amazing musical score to be both memorable and give more emotional depth.

Considering that American made western films had a big budget, this created more dramatic orchestral scores that are very memorable. Theme songs for movies and show were huge in the 1950’s when compared to today.

While American Western orchestral scores sound amazing, the Spaghetti Western sound is friggin’ awesome. Those are the family friendly words I can say.

The low budget of a Spaghetti Western introduced a brand new style of music while retaining depth to give more emotion. This was done with more than some violins, cellos, drums, and what-not.

The use of a reverbed, twangy guitar brought a whole new meaning to western music. Not only that, but things like whistling and a beat that resembles a galloping horse just make songs from a Spaghetti Western sound just so epic.

Gunshots also replaced sounds from the big orchestral scores of the American Westerns.

A theme song would be used when the main protagonist made an appearance in every scene, and the same can be said with the antagonist too. The first Spaghetti Western, A Fistful Of Dollars (1964) is a great example.

In A Fistful of Dollars, a whistle would be played when Clint Eastwood would make an appearance in a scene. When the audience is introduced to Eastwood, he rides into town on horseback while an amazing song plays. Talk about iconic!

From years to come A Fistful Of Dollars would inspire many more western films, and some Spaghetti Western themes can be seen in western films and games (Red Dead Redemption) to this day, and that’s why Spaghetti Westerns are so awesome.

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