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Author Topic: A Sad Observation  (Read 5833 times)
cigar joe
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« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2013, 03:58:04 AM »

I've only seen about 5 or so spags besides Leone's, so I am no scholar on the subject. so taking your givens, that there were only about 20 good movies out of 500, a handful of good directors and one legend, and the sub-genre was dead within a decade:

Firstly, IMO Leone is the greatest director ever and no one else is even close, so for me, if a genre produced Leone's 5 Westerns, it is worthwhile and a smashing success even if it produced five thousand pieces of crap. But let's set that aside:

I recall Frayling saying how Italian cinema in those days was, one successful movie would come out, and then a million others would try to copy it, before it ran out of steam; then another successful movie from a different (sub)genre came out, everyone tried to copy it, before it ran out of steam and then moved on to the next one, etc.

eg. you had the muscleman movies and the sword-and-sandal movies before the spags. so perhaps it's not like the rise and fall of the spag was a sad epoch in the history of Italian cinema; maybe it was just one part of a predictable cycle?


Additionally, look at the effects the spag had on the AW. The bastard child influenced the distinguished father! If spags introduced and influenced the AW, and perhaps movies in general, on the ideas of violence and bad guys with dirty faces and dirty-looking towns and heroes who wear grey hats, isn't that a great accomplishment? Sometimes, even more impressive than introducing a new concept is influencing your predecessors to follow in your example!

Wouldn't you say that the effect that the spag had on the AW -- and perhaps on movies itself -- was great?

Finally, if you are looking at the spag on an equal footing with other 9sub)genres, then it may seem disappointing. but you can't look at it that way. Rather, look at it for what it was: a bunch of mostly very cheaply-made movies that had very little respect from critics and the long-time Western stars and Hollywood stars in general, which were considered bastardized children to say the least, and ultimately actually had a significant influence and a cult following and made a solid handful of really good movies -- far better than any of the "classic" Western peeps would have imagined or given them credit for.

Imagine like the bastard child is born with no arms or legs or brain and he does much better than can be expected with what he has. maybe if you compare him to the first-born strong healthy son, he would look pathetic, but say, compared to what he had and what he was given and what was expected of him, he did damn good for himself! Would most people living during the spag craze have imagined (even if they had known that there would be home video) that there would be websites and fan clubs nearly 50 years later dedicated to their beloved bastard-child sub-genre?

Considering all that, maybe the bastard child sub-genre did pretty well for itself!

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now, if none of that rambling convinces you, and you still want a sad morbid thought to chew over, how about this one: what would the spag sub-genre be without Leone? at least with Leone, they have their one shining star, who shines brightly even when compared with directors of other cinema. But without that one man, would the spag genre have any respect at all? sure, there were a handul of guys that, as cj says, were solid, but were they only solid as in "these are among the better spag directors"? or would they be respected even in a conversation of all-time  great Hollywood directors? Can a genre or sub-genre be respected if it's entire legitimacy comes from one man?

if you say that, here is one more thought for you to chew on, in response: where would the AW be without John Ford? Sure, there are other directors that are considered great and made movies that are considered among the best of the genre, but almost any top-1o list of AW's is dominated by Ford films. Not only that, but all the "anti western AW's" the ones going "against the conventions of the genre," perhaps can be said, just as accurately, to be the "anti Ford," or "going against the conventions of Ford"?

(of course, there are other greats, most notably Howard Hawks, who made 2 AW's routinely considered in the top 5 of all-time. But I think the point about Ford remains. If Hawks didn't exist, the AW would be missing two of it's greatest movies ever -- maybe THE TOP 2 greatest ever -- but the genre would still be there. Without Ford, could you not analogize the AW to the SW without Leone?




Oh, yes it did well, I'm just lamenting that it didn't last long enough to fully mature like it may have otherwise.

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