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drinkanddestroy
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« Reply #120 on: July 22, 2012, 07:55:11 PM »

Frayling's book on SW is just a Leone's book in disguise. I give it 3\10, at best. He didn't watch the movies, he can't understand italian, he doesn't know much about italian cinema and I have the suspicion he, apart from Leone, doesn't like SW either. The Hughes book on western, as it starts from Stagecoach, I assume doesn't cover the first 40 years of western movies. 

I just re-read parts of Frayling's book "Spaghetti Westerns,"  and I don't see how you can possibly say the above. Frayling has an encyclopedic knowledge of Italian cinema. He discusses SW's extensively. There's no doubt that his particular area of expertise is Leone's works (and Leone's are the most famous and generally considered the best SW's) and he devotes special attention to those movies; but how can you possibly say that Frayling didn't watch the movies? So he's bullshitting when he discusses all those SW's? He never really watched them? How do you know that? And he seems to actually hold Italian cinema in much higher regard than many critics did in the 60's. I have no clue whether or not he understands Italian, and if not, whether he saw those movies dubbed into English or with English subtitles or what. But I can't imagine that he write extensively about all these movies without even watching them.

There are other problems with the book. As cigar joe mentioned above, it is not the easiest read. I found it very difficult to understand much of the terminology. I don't know if it's cuz I am not familiar with lots of movie terminology or cuz he didn't write it well, or some combination thereof. There are mistakes there, though as Groggy mentioned in a recent post, to his credit Frayling included a forward to the reprint where he pointed out his mistakes.

Thankfully, his writing improved tremendously by the time he wrote STDWD. But IMO "Spaghetti Westerns" is an indispensable volume for any Leone fan, and probably an interesting read for any SW fan (though I can't say for sure; I've only seen 5 SW's besides Leone's).

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« Reply #121 on: July 23, 2012, 06:17:29 AM »

Frayling can't speak italian and, sadly, didn't even bother to learn to read it. He states, honestly, in the preface of one of his books, that he hired an interpreter to interview the italian subjects. I don't remember all the crap he writes, I just remember off the cuff , that he lists Le pillole di Ercole (tr. lit. Hercules Pills: a modern day comedy about some miraculous pills) as a sword and sandal movie (of course the title deceived him). I'd be willing to bet he didn't watch, at the time he wrote the movie, more than 20-30 SW's, but even conceding he watched more, say 50, that wouldn't  authorize him to be dubbed an "expert" let alone write a book on the subject.  About his knowledge of italian cinema, I ought to re-read his book to list all the errors but, believe me, he doesn't know what he's writing about. And it couldn't be otherwise if you don't understand italian, as only a small part of the production was available to english speakers, all the more so at the time when F. wrote his books.
Frayling's work is useful for some  informations not to be found elsewhere but, as I wrote, each of this informations should be checked twice.

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« Reply #122 on: July 23, 2012, 09:06:09 AM »

Frayling can't speak italian and, sadly, didn't even bother to learn to read it. He states, honestly, in the preface of one of his books, that he hired an interpreter to interview the italian subjects. I don't remember all the crap he writes, I just remember off the cuff , that he lists Le pillole di Ercole (tr. lit. Hercules Pills: a modern day comedy about some miraculous pills) as a sword and sandal movie (of course the title deceived him). I'd be willing to bet he didn't watch, at the time he wrote the movie, more than 20-30 SW's, but even conceding he watched more, say 50, that wouldn't  authorize him to be dubbed an "expert" let alone write a book on the subject.  About his knowledge of italian cinema, I ought to re-read his book to list all the errors but, believe me, he doesn't know what he's writing about. And it couldn't be otherwise if you don't understand italian, as only a small part of the production was available to english speakers, all the more so at the time when F. wrote his books.
Frayling's work is useful for some  informations not to be found elsewhere but, as I wrote, each of this informations should be checked twice.
Titoli, I respect your opinion but I disagree. Frayling may not be an expert on SW in general, but he is certainly an expert on Leone. You cannot crucify the man because he doesn't speak or read italian. Leone didn't speak any english, yet as we all know, his research in the USA was fundamental for the creation of his masterpieces. Frayling has started praising Leone in the 70ies, if not 60ties, when everybody else was still bashing Leone, including almost all italian film critics. And let's face it, as I have stated in a similar thread some years ago, being italian, I feel ashamed that the most exhaustive Leone biography was written by an englishman and not by an italian. There are extremely few italian writers who recognized Leone as a great director 30-40 years ago: Oreste De Fornari and Franco Ferrini are the only ones who readily come to my mind (Gabutti, Kezich and the others followed much later).
Si I'm more then willing to forgive some flaws and small errors here and there in his book, but I still think he has done a great job and he is certainly regarded as an authority when it comes to Leone and rightly so, I may add.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 09:09:31 AM by Leonardo » Logged
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« Reply #123 on: July 23, 2012, 10:10:29 AM »

Probably you haven't noticed, but we were talking about Frayling's book on SW and his authoritativeness on italian language, SW and italian cinema. On Leone he did what he could, which was much but we have to consider his limitations. I wonder, for example, what he could have made of Morricone's statement on roman bullies.

BTW, if you have read De Fornari's first book on Leone (and the first ever published anywhere) it  was quite critical on his subject, not laudatory and I wonder why he ever did write it.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 10:28:50 AM by titoli » Logged

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« Reply #124 on: July 23, 2012, 10:11:16 AM »

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You cannot crucify the man because he doesn't speak or read italian.

I agree wholeheartedly with this. This criticism may be valid with an historian or literary critic, where linguistic nuances can mean a great deal. Concerning films shot for an international audience and readily available in English, however, it's not particularly apt.

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« Reply #125 on: July 23, 2012, 10:26:57 AM »

I agree wholeheartedly with this. This criticism may be valid with an historian or literary critic, where linguistic nuances can mean a great deal. Concerning films shot for an international audience and readily available in English, however, it's not particularly apt.

Don't play the jenkins, please. The westerns were shot for an international audience, but were thought up and directed by Leone in roman, not even italian. All the collaborators were romans, or italians living in Rome. Only the actors were international. But then, even assuming what you write is true (and it isn't) then on the basis of your linguistical limitations you should discuss the movies and stop there. If you decide to penetrate the author's background, his frame of mind and his mental and cultural development, then you should first acquire the knowledge of the language through which this development was possible, of the cultural products he absorbed and so on. Frayling is absolutely unable to do that and he isn't even ashamed to have to admit it.

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« Reply #126 on: July 23, 2012, 10:30:41 AM »

Don't play the jenkins, please.

What did I ever do to deserve this? Cheesy

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« Reply #127 on: July 23, 2012, 11:08:56 AM »

What did I ever do to deserve this? Cheesy

I won't take from him the pleasure to explain.

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« Reply #128 on: July 23, 2012, 04:00:48 PM »

Titoli - Leonardo makes a great point about how Leone did amazing research for his movies, all about America, despite never learning English. And the fact that Frayling.... gasp... hired an Italian interpreter to interview Italians?? I mean, wtf else should he do? Leone brought along Fulvio Morsella to act as his interpreter in the meetings with Harry Grey (and probably many other times). He had English speakers (I think Morsella again) translate The Hoods to him. I understand that if you are Italian and understand the nuances of the language yes, it bothers you that someone else who doesn't speak the language can't understand the nuances and therefore perhaps can't understand everything as perfectly as if he could. But that's not really a valid criticism. (It's like with OUATIA, there mistakes that Orthodox Jews can point out. Even though they had Stuart Kaminsky fix up the script to make it Jewish, Kaminsky may have been a traditional Jew and known about their customs and he did a pretty damn good job, but I don't think he was Orthodox and there are some errors that an Orthodox Jew would spot -- eg. Jews would never enter their stores on Passover under any circumstances -- but 99% of viewers wouldn't realize it, so who cares. It's not a perfect analogy but the general point remains). Yeah, I am sure that there are nuances that only an Italian or a Roman could pick up on, but to I have to disagree with the assertion that someone is unauthorized to do research on Leone or on Italian cinema if he doesn't understand Italian. I think a researcher has to be clear and honest about his limitations and do his best with them. So, Frayling should be commended for saying honestly that his interviews with Italians were done by interpreters, and for his preface to his Spaghetti Westerns book where he corrected the mistakes of the previous editions. I think honestly is most important. And with the limitation of being an English speaker, I think he did a damn fine job. Unless you think he really never watched those movies he discusses. In that case, yeah, he should be given zero credibility. But I don't see how you can say that. I haven't seen the movies  myself but when someone discusses movies, in many cases in-depth, I think it's reasonable to assume that he's seen them! Weren't these movies either dubbed into English or with English subtitles?  (Besides,  all this is assuming your statement is correct that he really speaks no Italian; just because he couldn't speak it well enough to interview Italians, does that necessarily mean he couldn't understand it well enough to watch an Italian movie?)

I am as frustrated as anyone else is by some blatant mistakes I've seen in Frayling's works. That's why I try to post about them, for the record, (even though I know that my posts won't even be read by 1% of the people who have read his books or watched his commentaries). But you know what, these movies were made a very long time ago, many of those involved are now dead, the ones who are alive are old and it was many years ago, people have very conflicting accounts of what happened, and in some cases people intentionally lie to take credit away from others. So this research is not easy. But I think he presents his research -- and it definitely is exhaustive -- in a careful and honest manner, stating all the various versions of the (many) stories where recollections differ. There was recently a book released called "Einstein's Mistakes: The Human Failings of Genius"  http://www.amazon.com/Einsteins-Mistakes-Human-Failings-Genius/dp/0393062937      apparently his doctoral dissertation was riddles with mistakes; the point of the book is not to criticize Einstein, but on the contrary, to show how humans are flawed, even the most brilliant.

Finally, I have to say that I am a FAR bigger Leone fan than I am a fan of SW's or Italian cinema in general. (Thus far, I've only seen 5 non-Leone SW's, and I can't think of any other Italian movies I've seen besides La Strada. They're in my queue; I hope to start watching 'em soon). So I really can't speak for certain about Frayling's expertise on SW's or Italian cinema in general. All I know is the number of movies he discusses, and if he's really seen those movies, then yeah, he knows quite a lot. And if he has not seen all those Italian movies he has discussed, well in that case he is the biggest phony that ever lived. But somehow I doubt that.

« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 04:22:40 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #129 on: July 23, 2012, 04:36:43 PM »

 I told you that I prize some informations picked up by Frayling, but I warn you they ought not to be accepted face value. About The Hoods, Leone read it in the italian translation, published I think in the '60's. And as to OUTIA, I consider it an american movie, as it was shot with an entirely american cast and written by an american (apart from the fact that it is not an italian production but an entirely american one).  Whatever you write about his last movie cannot be taken as an example of his MO for his previous movies.
I can grant  Frayling's honesty, but that doen't make him more dependable. And when you'll have a deeper knowledge of italian SW and italian cinema you'll probably be aware of his limitations (almost) like I am. Believe me, his book on SW is mediocre at the very best.

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« Reply #130 on: July 23, 2012, 06:30:34 PM »

I told you that I prize some informations picked up by Frayling, but I warn you they ought not to be accepted face value. About The Hoods, Leone read it in the italian translation, published I think in the '60's. And as to OUTIA, I consider it an american movie, as it was shot with an entirely american cast and written by an american (apart from the fact that it is not an italian production but an entirely american one).  Whatever you write about his last movie cannot be taken as an example of his MO for his previous movies.
I can grant  Frayling's honesty, but that doen't make him more dependable. And when you'll have a deeper knowledge of italian SW and italian cinema you'll probably be aware of his limitations (almost) like I am. Believe me, his book on SW is mediocre at the very best.

I disagree that OUATIA is an American movie, I think the Italians were as heavily involved as with Leone's movies. But that's besdide the point. When I (and presumably Leonardo as well) was talking about the fact that Leone did meticulous research on American history to make movies about America despite never having learned English, I wasn't just talking about OUATIA; I was talking about the Westerns as well. My point was just that you can know about a culture, including its movie culture (and Leone sure had vast knowledge of American movies) even without speaking English, so I presume that not speaking Italian isn't necessarily an impediment to Frayling's knowledge of Italian cinema. Whether or not he actually has that knowledge, I can't say for certain. There is no doubt that you know more about Italian cinema than I do. I don't know shit. So it's easy for Frayling to convince me that he knows a lot about it. You may well be correct that he doesn't know that much about it; I cannot honestly speak to something I don't know about. But the bulk of Frayling's work is about Leone. And that's why I bought his books. And even he wouldn't deny that; I mean, he clearly notes how the bulk of his writings is dedicated to Leone's SW's. (And that makes sense, since those were most influential; like most discussions of AW's would focus heavily, though not entirely,  on John Ford).
That's why I read his works -- because I want to read about Leone -- and (despite the frustrating mistakes), I love them and think they're great.

But he has chapters on SW's (eg. "Spaghettis and Politics," "Spaghettis and Society,") that discuss a shitload of non-Leone SW's. ( I've hardly seen any of them, but) why are you saying that you believe he hasn't seen them? Are you saying he hasn't seen the ones he discusses? or that the ones he discusses are only a tiny fraction of the total? Frayling himself talks about the fact that hundreds of SW's were made ("a terrifying gold rush," in Leone's words) and that many of them were shit. And he focuses on the more significant ones, of course (eg. those by Corbucci and Sollima). Do you want him to write chapters about all the shitty ones? Even the best books about the American Westerns probably do no mention the names of 95% of the total AW's that have been released. The books focus on the most significant/influential ones. And Frayling definitely discusses the significant ones. So again, I clearly do not have the knowledge of SW's that you do, but I I'm not exactly sure what your criticism is: are you saying Frayling has not seen all the SW's that he discusses? or that he's seen them but misinterpreted them? or that he's only seen the few he discusses but no others?

It seems to me, as an American, that Frayling set out to write a book, from an English perspective, on the Spaghetti Western, with a heavy emphasis on Leone's works. And to that extent, he largely succeeded. I readily admit that our opinions may differ because I am an American who is focused on Leone, while you are an Italian  seem to want a work that truly focuses on Italian cinema as a whole. (Similar to what Leonardo mentioned above, I'm sure it's frustrating for Italians that no Italian has undertaken as thorough a work on Leone, and that STDWD is the only definitive biography on him. But let's not blame Frayling for the fact that no Italian has undertaken a work on Leone as extensive as he has).




(But it's definitely vital point out any mistakes that he or anyone else makes, to correct them for the record. And that's why I contributed so heavily to the thread discussing mistakes in Frayling's commentaries, just as I pointed out the mistakes made in Cinema Retro in a different thread [neither of those threads were started by me], but then that dickhead Cinema Retro editor Bruce who calls himself UNCKNOWN criticizes me and says that I must have no friends cuz I live to correct others' mistakes, as if we'd be better off without those mistakes being corrected. And of course dj jumps on for a cheap laugh, even though he is the one who initially encouraged me to correct the mistakes for the record. But hey, what else can I expect from a Cinema Retro editor who took personal offense, and dj? Not much. [I am NOT criticizing Cinema Retro or any other of that magazine's contributors who are on this board; I think they do very important work and I am happy that they exist; just that one edition I saw had many mistakes]. But I digress......)  Wink


« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 07:06:18 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #131 on: September 05, 2012, 03:42:20 AM »

http://www.ebay.it/itm/Rieupeyrout-La-grande-aventure-du-western-1894-1964-ed-du-Cerf-/380459211123?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_71&hash=item589522d973

This is a reprint, I presume, brought to date of his book published in 1954 with the title: Le western où le cinéma américain par excellence. I've found at the flea market last sunday the italian edition published in 1957: the two versions seem to be apparently very rare as I can't find them on line. Anyway this is a disposable book except for some pictures I've never seen before. It has little critical value as it doesn't even mention some movies which are considered classic (f.e. The Gunfighter). The author consider the movies as a kind of filmed history of the Far West, with just the insertion of stories to make them palatable to the audiences. Shane is considered as the first movie which can do without the history side and reading it one can't but think that those words can suit better to the Leone movies a decade after. Some interesting notes on locations (Monumental Valley being never mentioned under this name). 5\10

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« Reply #132 on: September 05, 2012, 04:03:46 AM »

Are you saying he hasn't seen the ones he discusses? or that the ones he discusses are only a tiny fraction of the total? Frayling himself talks about the fact that hundreds of SW's were made ("a terrifying gold rush," in Leone's words) and that many of them were shit. And he focuses on the more significant ones, of course (eg. those by Corbucci and Sollima). Do you want him to write chapters about all the shitty ones?

No, but if I should write a book on a genre I would try to watch everything, not just limit myself to the most "significant ones" because somebody else who didn't watch the rest like me wrote there aren't other ones to be taken into consideration.


Quote
Even the best books about the American Westerns probably do no mention the names of 95% of the total AW's that have been released.

That means that  "probably" you haven't read the Garfield's book.




Quote
It seems to me, as an American, that Frayling set out to write a book, from an English perspective, on the Spaghetti Western, with a heavy emphasis on Leone's works. And to that extent, he largely succeeded.

That proves my point. He just wrote, at best, a slightly different version of STDWD  with a different and misleading title.

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« Reply #133 on: September 07, 2012, 07:57:55 AM »

"The American West"-The Pictorial Epic of a Continent by Lucius Beebe & Charles Clegg


I highly recommend this book to those of you who enjoy illustrations or artist representations from the Old American West.
It's basically a compilation of newspaper articles, paintings, wanted posters, and other photos dating back from the early 1600s to the early 1900s.
It's a fantastic book, really.



« Last Edit: September 07, 2012, 06:41:58 PM by Yellowhead » Logged
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« Reply #134 on: September 07, 2012, 06:14:45 PM »

Its best to upload the photos to photobucket then link them to here.  Afro

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