Great Spaghetti Westerns

Posted on 23 Mar 00:00


 We have dug through the archives of film history to compile a list of some of the greatest classic Spaghetti Western films. All  golden age’s true classic masterpieces.

  1. Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a phenomenal Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone. This film follows the journey of Blondie (The Good) (Clint Eastwood) and Tuco (The Ugly) (Eli Wallach) who form an uneasy alliance during the civil war while looking for treasure buried in a remote cemetery. They must also outwit an outlaw Angel Eyes (The Bad) (Lee Van Cleef) who wants to keep the riches for himself. The plot revolves around these three gunslingers competing to find the fortune. This film’s spectacular cinematography and stylistic gunfights were praised by the critics along with its long, uninterrupted and wide-angle shots fluctuating with close-ups. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is perceived as one of the greatest Western movies. 

  1. The Big Gundown (1966)

This cinematic Spaghetti Western masterpiece was directed by Sergio Sollima. It revolves around the journey of Lawman, John Corbett (Lee Van Cleef), a reputable bounty hunter for bringing criminals to justice, and who is soon to retire. Before running for senate, John (Lee Van Cleef) considers his last bounty hunt. He sets out on an adventure in search of Mexican peasant Cuchillo (Tomas Milian) accused of raping and killing a 12-year-old girl at the U.S.-Mexico border. John sets out in pursuit of Cuchillo but discovers that he may not be as guilty as he first thought. This film is well shot with many artistic scenes. The execution of this well-structured story has significant character. It’s a movie of epic proportions and contains career-making performances. 

  1. Keoma (1976)

This film is directed by Enzo G. Castellari. Great films like Keoma (1976) makes the era of Spaghetti Western films more compelling and intriguing. The film is known for its incorporation of revolutionary cinematic techniques such as slow-motion and close/medium panning shots, which enhances the experience of watching it. The plot is about an ex-Union soldier Keoma Shannon (Franco Nero), part-Indian and part-white who returns to his home town after the American Civil War. Upon returning he finds the tyranny of Caldwell (Donald O’ Brien) and his half-brothers, who allied with him, looming over the town. They rule over the town with an iron fist and make it clear that Keoma's return wasn’t welcome. Keoma then partners with his father's former ranch hand to break Caldwell (Donald O’ Brien) and his half-brothers' grip on the town. 


  1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Another masterpiece directed by Sergio Leone.  Recognized and praised for its inventive framing and exposition, shows the quality of his direction. In 2009, this film was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant. The plot revolves around a land conflict involving the construction of a railroad and a mission of revenge against a killer. The land is bought by Brett McBain (Frank Wolff), who knows that the railroad will need to pass through that area to consume the water for the steam locomotives. However railroad tycoon Morton (Gabriele Ferzetti) is determined to have the land, so he sends his henchman Frank (Henry Fonda) to intimidate McBain, but Frank kills him instead and frames the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards) for the murder. Meanwhile Jill (Claudia Cardinale), the new wife of McBain arrives on the property, and declares herself the owner of the land. Meanwhile, a mysterious gunslinger with a score to settle (Charles Bronson).


  1. The Great Silence (1968)

The 'Great Silence' is a 1968 classic Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Corbucci. The film's plot takes place in Utah before the Great Blizzard of 1899. A group of cold-blooded bounty hunters, guided by the savage Loco (Klaus Kinski), unleashes tyranny on residents in the hills. It becomes up to a mute gunslinger that goes by the name 'Silence' (Jean Louis Trintignant) to defend the town against this group of outlaws and a vengeful young widow Pauline (Vonetta McGee). As the plot proceeds, it unravels a grim tense struggle. The Great Silence is highly regarded by fans and critics and acclaimed Sergio Corbucci's greatest masterpiece. 


  1. Death Rides a Horse (1967)

It is a 1967 Italian Spaghetti Western directed by Giulio Petroni. The plot is about  Bill (John Phillip Law), a boy whose father was killed and his mother and sister were raped and murdered in front of him by a gang.  He is the sole survivor of the massacre. Seeking vengeance, he sets out on a journey of 15 to become adept and skilled with a gun. He crosses path with a seasoned gunslinger and freshly bailed out of prison Ryan (Lee Van Cleef) who shares his same desire for justice and vengeance. This is a treacherous odyssey of retribution. Remarkable performances are given by the actors and the exquisite cinematography add impactful density to key scenes.


  1. A Bullet for the General (1966) 

This classic Spaghetti Western directed by Damiano Damiani is a must watch. The film tells the story of El Chuncho (Gian Maria Volonte), a bandit loyal to the revolutionary leader General Elías (Jamie Fernandez) and Bill Tate (Lou Castel), who is a counter-revolutionary in Mexico. El Chuncho and his brother El Santo (Klaus Kinski) launch an assault on a train. Bill Tate (Lou Castel), an American passenger on the train, kills the engineer and stops the train, allowing the gang to kill the remaining Rurales and take their weapons. Posing as a former prisoner of the army, Bill joins the gang and is lured by El Chuncho (Gian Maria Volonte) in their plans for a revolution. However, Bill is hiding his true intention. The plot continuously evolves as the film progresses. It’s a film that truly engaging with its plot twists and turns. 


The Spaghetti Western came to prominence in the mid-1960s and took the world by storm. The revolutionary film style, cinematography, and stylistic gunfights delighted a wide variety of audiences.  These classic films were notorious for producing some of the greatest plot hits and featured sensational career-making roles. The films featured multilingual casts and were originally released in Italian-later dubbed in English. These few films have been listed among the best Spaghetti Westerns.

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