19 January 2013 4:32 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The director's consummate revival of the spaghetti western journeys deep into America's unpalatable past

The Italian western appeared in the mid-1960s, its aim both to compensate for the reduced number of American westerns and their lack of action. Shot in Spain by directors usually adopting American pseudonyms, they rapidly became known for ultra-violence, sadism, operatic staging, sharp colours, enormous close-ups and emphatic music. In the dubbed and heavily cut versions that reached the English-speaking world they had a crude quality that offended the few critics who saw them.

They did, however, have a vigour and a broad Marxist thrust in their attitude towards capitalism and third world exploitation. They made a considerable impact on the Hollywood western in its last days (especially on those featuring Clint Eastwood, the only American actor to become a star through working in Italy), though the name of only one Italian director, Sergio Leone, »

- Philip French

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