Retro Relapse: Top 50 Spaghetti Westerns of All-Time

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Originally written in 2015.

Spaghetti westerns are better than westerns, at least in my opinion. Sure, there are fantastic American-made westerns but as a whole, the Italian-Spanish (sometimes German) films are superior. There is more grit, more bad ass shit and a level of violence that adds realism and authenticity to a genre that has typically been family friendly in the U.S.

The greatest film of all-time is a spaghetti western. And many of the other greatest films ever also fall into this genre.

I have spent the last several months watching a lot of these films. I have always been familiar with the greats but I had to delve deeper into the more obscure reaches of the genre. A special shout out goes to the Spaghetti Western Database for the hours of research I was able to accomplish in mostly one place. Also, thanks to Amazon, Hulu and YouTube for providing several of these films. The rest were an adventure to track down.

This list is the result of my hundreds of hours of film watching.

1. The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
2. Once Upon A Time In the West
3. The Great Silence
4. The Big Gundown
5. For A Few Dollars More
6. Django
7. A Fistful of Dollars
8. The Mercenary
9. Face to Face
10. Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot!
11. A Bullet For the General
12. Compañeros
13. Duck, You Sucker! (A Fistful of Dynamite)
14. Day of Anger
15. Keoma
16. Sabata
17. Return of Ringo
18. Death Rides A Horse
19. Cemetery Without Crosses
20. My Name Is Nobody
21. The Grand Duel
22. A Genius, Two Partners and A Dupe
23. A Pistol for Ringo
24. If You Meet Sartana, Pray For Your Death
25. The Dirty Outlaws
26. Django, Prepare a Coffin (Viva Django)
27. Run Man Run
28. Tepepa
29. Navajo Joe
30. Four of the Apocalypse
31. Massacre Time
32. Shoot the Living, Pray for the Dead
33. Mannaja
34. Django Strikes Again
35. The Return of Sabata
36. A Few Dollars For Django
37. Light the Fuse… Sartana Is Coming
38. Machine Gun Killers
39. Beyond the Law
40. Ace High
41. The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones)
42. Trinity Is Still My Name
43. Hellbenders
44. Django the Bastard
45. God Forgives, I Don’t
46. Minnesota Clay
47. God’s Gun
48. They Call Me Trinity
49. Ringo and His Golden Pistol (Johnny Oro)
50. Arizona Colt

Film Review: A Bullet For the General (1966)

Also known as: El Chuncho Quién Sabe? (Italy)
Release Date: December 7th, 1966 (Italy)
Directed by: Damiano Damiani
Written by: Salvatore Laurani, Franco Solinas
Music by: Luis Bacalov, Ennio Morricone
Cast: Gian Maria Volontè, Klaus Kinski, Martine Beswick, Lou Castel, Jaime Fernández

M.C.M., Indipendenti Regionali, AVCO Embassy Pictures,Warner-Pathé, 118 Minutes (Italy), 115 Minutes (USA)

a-bullet-for-the-generalReview:

I’ve been watching through a lot of spaghetti westerns that I haven’t seen before, mostly stuff that was critically acclaimed or touted a lot by film historians of the genre. I’ve especially been trying to see more Zapata westerns (films that focus on events surrounding the Mexican Revolution). I had heard people talk about A Bullet For the General but never saw it until recently.

Directed by Damiano Damiani, who would later go on to work with spaghetti western maestro Sergio Leone, this film is one of the very best in the genre. It has epic landscapes, geographical desolation, intense action, political and social commentary, a good amount of violence, a lot of humor, an intense musical score and colorful characters – all likable in their own way.

The film is heavily accented by the great acting talents of Gian Maria Volontè and Klaus Kinski.

Volontè, who played the villain in A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More, plays a character who is just as ruthless but is totally different in tone. It is exciting to see if you are a fan of his work with Leone, because Volontè isn’t cold and impersonal in this film, he is the polar opposite – warm, exciting, over the top and hilarious.

Kinski plays the brother of Volontè’s character and he has a very religious nature even though he is a cold-blooded bandit full of political idealism. This is one of my favorite roles that I’ve seen Kinski play (next to Count Orlock in the beautiful Nosferatu remake of 1979).

Lou Castel rounds out the cast as the American who gets mixed up with the two bandit brothers and their involvement in the Mexican Revolution. He is mostly a despicable character but the performance by Castel is top notch. And he is a character that is full of surprises: adding some good twists to the plot.

A Bullet For the General is one of the top five spaghetti westerns I have seen that wasn’t directed by Sergio Leone. It has a big budget feel for a time when there were dozens upon dozens of lesser spaghetti westerns that reeked of cheapness.

If you are a fan of the genre and you haven’t seen A Bullet For the General, you are missing out. And if you want to experience a Zapata western, this is a good starting point.

Rating: 9/10