July 26 – August 12, 2012
Named for its Italian origins, the “spaghetti Western” was among the hottest dishes on the movie menu in the 1960s, with a group of brash, ambitious Italian filmmakers reinventing the most quintessentially American of genres. Though Sergio Leone was the genre's most celebrated chef, such talents as Sergio Corbucci, Gianfranco Parolini, Giulio Petroni and Carlo Lizzani, to name a few, also were drawn to the table, bringing with them a new kind of anti-establishment Western that was right at home in the era of the Black Panthers, student protests and the Vietnam War. Stripping the form of its romantic patriotism and replacing it with bare-bones brutality and satire, the spaghetti Western incorporated widescreen framing, sweaty close-ups and expressive sound design (most often courtesy of composer Ennio Morricone), changing the way Westerns looked, sounded and felt. Small budgets bought plenty of bang for the lira, and relentless action and rootless antiheroes could be counted on to deliver appreciative audiences. And unlike most films, spaghetti Westerns were easy to export given their minimal dialogue - Men With No Name typically let their guns do the talking. Actors Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Franco Nero, Tomas Milian and even Klaus Kinski were all regulars in the genre.
Following Film Forum’s lauded program in New York, the American Cinematheque inherits this comprehensive salute to the spaghetti Western, and offers a look at the Wild West from a few thousand miles east. Included in the series are THE HILLS RUN RED, DJANGO, DJANGO KILL… IF YOU LIVE SHOOT!, THE MERCENARY, THE PRICE OF POWER, DEATH RIDES A HORSE, SABATA, IF YOU MEET SARTANA PRAY FOR YOUR DEATH, THE BIG GUNDOWN, HELLBENDERS, A BULLET FOR THE GENERAL, THE RUTHLESS FOUR, KILL AND PRAY, COMPAÑEROS, TEPEPA, CHINA 9 LIBERTY 37, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY.
Praise for Film Forum’s spaghetti Western series, coming to the American Cinematheque:
“All wonderful films. Visually extremely striking, aurally distinctive, wonderfully acted, violent, mystifying, perversely inspirational.” - Alex Cox, The New York Times
“THE GREATEST GENRE EVER!” - J. Hoberman, Film Comment
“THE ULTIMATE GIFT TO FILM LOVERS!” - Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
“Those who only know Sergio Leone’s defining contributions to the genre may have a life-changing experience at this series." - Steve Dollar, The Wall Street Journal
Touring program compiled by Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan and Bruce Goldstein of Film Forum.
Program notes by John Hagelston and Jim Hemphill.