The Secret History of Italian Cinema 4: Spaghetti Westerns

The new series of screenings and restorations for the Secret History of Italian Cinema 4, part of the programme of the 64th Venice Film Festival (29th August – 8th September 2007), will be devoted to the Spaghetti Westerns. The Festival is directed by Marco Müller and organised by the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia, chaired by Davide Croff, and by Telecom Progetto Italia, the subsidiary of Gruppo Telecom Italia  that organises cultural events throughout the country, involving bodies, institutions and the public in the rediscovery of Italy’s cultural and artistic heritage.


 As part of the permanent activities and cultural holdings that have been rediscovered and restored, the selection of the Spaghetti Westerns represents the ideal continuation of the work undertaken with the Secret History of Italian Cinema, started in 2004 and which has, for the past four years, successfully relaunched the ‘invisible’ Italian cinema, alongside the parallel initiatives of the Secret History of Asian Cinema in 2005 and Secret History of Russian Cinema in 2006.

The Secret History of Italian Cinema 4 – Spaghetti Westerns programme will be curated by Marco Giusti and Manlio Gomarasca, with L’Officina Filmclub (Paolo Luciani and Cristina Torelli), in collaboration with leading Italian and foreign scholars of films of this genre. It will include the screening of 32 feature films during the 64th Venice Film Festival, selected on the basis of the relationship between great importance and high degree of ‘invisibility’: films that have not been in circulation for at least a decade, and are here restored and reconstructed in their integral version, which Telecom Progetto Italia will also support through an in-depth analysis activity on its own website

As for the first edition of the Secret History of Italian Cinema in 2004, the “godfather” of this initiative will be the great American film-maker, Quentin Tarantino, a profound connoisseur and admirer of Italian cinema.

Alongside Tarantino, directors, producers, actors, script-writers, photographic directors and stuntmen featuring on prominent Spaghetti Westerns, will also be present in Venice.

The appeal of the spaghetti Western, more than 40 years after the release of Sergio Leone’s A fistful of dollars, seems as strong as ever, considering the homage dedicated it recently from different directors, such as Tarantino, and also Martin Scorsese, Johnnie To and John Woo in their films. Spaghetti Westerns are the films that have done most to influence the image of popular cinema in the past few decades, and which have founded one of the most important currents in “New Cinema” (and political cinema) Italy has ever known. The homage of the 64th Venice Film Festival to Spaghetti Westerns does not end with the retrospective of the Secret History of Italian Cinema 4: as occurred in 2006 with Johnnie To’s Exiled and with Piotr Uklanski’s Summer Love, there will be many contemporary and new references to the spaghetti Western present this year, offered as world premieres in the various sections of the Festival. There will be no lack of surprises in this regard, bearing witness to the still fruitful influence of the “Italian-style Western”, an infinite, timeless genre, on many film-makers from different continents.

It is well-known that many of Quentin Tarantino’s favourite directors are Italian. The American director, scriptwriter, actor and producer is a fervent admirer of Sergio Leone’s cinema, to the point of including a special dedication to the Italian director in his recent successes, Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 2, as did Clint Eastwood in his Unforgiven (1992). Tarantino is also a profound connoisseur and keen “fan” of the films of Giorgio Stegani, Franco Rossetti, Ferdinando Baldi, Enzo G. Castellari, Nando Cicero, Sergio Corbucci, Giuseppe Rosati, Giancarlo Santi, Duccio Tessari, Giulio Petroni, Sergio Sollima, Giorgio Ferroni. His oeuvre is packed with homages and more or less veiled references to Italian Westerns.

Those who grew up with Spaghetti Westerns, seeing them in movie-theatres day after day, will identify with Quentin Tarantino’s partiality to "Spaghetti Western" themes. Venice will present his cult directors of Westerns, such as Sergio Corbucci, with his formidable A Dollar a Head (Navajo Joe) starring Burt Reynolds; Sergio Sollima with The Big Gundown (La resa dei conti), starring Tomas Milian and Lee Van Cleef; and Enzo Castellari with Django Rides Again (Keoma). Films to be “rediscovered”, Tarantino paid homage in Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 2, namely the Giancarlo Santi of  Hell’s Fighters (Il grande duello), a film that has not been seen in Italy for years and starring Lee Van Cleef, with great music by Luis Bacalov and the recently deceased Sergio Bardotti. The programme will also present less well-known directors and films that are also of great interest amongst Tarantino’s favourite “Spaghetti Westerns”. Starting with El Desperado by Franco Rossetti, responsible with Piero Vivarelli for the screenplay of Sergio Corbucci’s Django and here director of his only Western. Or The Ugly Ones (The Bounty Killer) by Eugenio Martin, the first Western to star Tomas Milian as a tormented bad guy (noted by all as a film worth rediscovering, although highly appreciated at the time in Spain). Plus Paolo Bianchini’s Machine Gun Killers (Quel caldo maledetto giorno della resa dei conti) with Robert Woods, Django, Prepare a Coffin (Preparati la bara) by Ferdinando Baldi and starring Terence Hill (discovered the year before for his musical talents in the successful Crazy of Gnarz Barkley), Nando Cicero’s Red Blood Yellow Gold (Professionisti per un massacre) with George Hilton, the classic Westerns starring Giuliano Gemma and Blood for a Silver Dollar (Un dollaro bucato) by Giorgio Ferroni.


Spaghetti Westerns – The Secret History of Italian Cinema 4:

The films (in chronological order)


I sette del Texas (Hour of Death, 1964) by Joaquin Luis Romero Marchent

Per un pugno di dollari (For a Fistfull of Dollars, 1964) by Sergio Leone

100.000 dollari per Ringo ($100,000 for Ringo, 1965) by Alberto De Martino

Il ritorno di Ringo (The Return of Ringo, 1965) by Duccio Tessari

The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones, 1966) by Eugenio Martin

Un dollaro bucato (Blood for a Silver Dollar, 1965) by Giorgio Ferroni

Django (Django, 1966) – uncut – by Sergio Corbucci

La resa dei conti (The Big Gundown, 1966) by Sergio Sollima

Navajo Joe (A Dollar a Head, 1966) by Sergio Corbucci

Ringo del Nebraska (1966) by Mario Bava and Antonio Román

Sugar Colt (Sugar Colt, 1966) by Franco Giraldi  

Un fiume di dollari (The Hills Run Red, 1966) by Carlo Lizzani

Yankee (1966) by Tinto Brass

10 000 dollari per un massacro (Ten Thousand Dollars for a Massacre, 1967) by Romolo Guerrieri

El Desperado (Big Ripoff, 1967) by Franco Rossetti

Il tempo degli avvoltoi (Last of the Badmen, 1967) by Nando Cicero

La morte non conta i dollari (Death at Owell Rock, 1967) by Riccardo Freda

Se sei vivo spara (Django, Kill… If You Live, Shoot!, 1967) – uncut – by Giulio Questi

Ognuno per sé (The Ruthless Four, 1968) by Giorgio Capitani

Preparati la bara (Django, Prepare a Coffin, 1968) by Ferdinando Baldi

Quel caldo maledetto giorno di fuoco (Machine Gun Killers, 1968) by Paolo Bianchini

Tepepa (Long Live the Revolution, 1969) by Giulio Petroni

La taglia è tua l’uomo l’ammazzo io (The Reward’s Yours… The Man’s Mine, 1969) by Edoardo Mulargia

Una lunga fila di croci (Hanging for Django, 1969) by Sergio Garrone

E dio disse a Caino (And God Said to Cain, 1970) by Antonio Margheriti

Lo chiamavano Trinità (My Name Is Trinity , 1970) – reconstructed definitive version – by Enzo Barboni

Vamos a matar companeros (Companeros, 1970) by Sergio Corbucci

La vendetta è un piatto che si serve freddo (Death’s Dealer, 1971) by Pasquale Squitieri

Il grande duello (Hell’s Fighters, 1972) by Giancarlo Santi

Il mio nome è Shangai Joe (My Name Is Shanghai Joe, 1972) by Mario Caiano

Una ragione per vivere e una per morire (A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die, 1972) by Tonino Valerii

Keoma (Django Rides Again, 1976) by Enzo G. Castellari