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Morricone's hoof beats, whistling and use of human voice as an instrument became standard musical style of Spaghetti Western. Simple but eerie, nearly tangible presence of music was extraordinary and absolutely original. Leone made instant celebrities out of not just his music composer but Eastwood - who would star in his trilogy of Westerns: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, Bad and Ugly (1966).
In a scene in A Fistful of Dollars, one of characters gets shot and a close-up of his face reveals thick, red blood gushing out of his mouth. By today's standards it would have no impact on average viewer, but 40 years ago it was monumental. From then on filmmakers began to allot a large part of their film budget to what was called a "blood budget".
Critics attacked these films for their gratuitous violence, but audiences loved them. And Leone's revamped Western formula was imitated for years to follow.
Then "The Other Sergio," Sergio Corbucci, showed up in 1966 with Django. Critics had a field day with this film, and it was banned in several markets. Its nauseating brutality (I shut my eyes and covered my ears!) became part of formula. The most brutal of Spaghettis is one of 30 unofficial Django sequels (yes, 30), aptly named Django Kill! (1967) Aside from being most sadistic, with elements like torture, vampire bats, a crucifixion and an army of homosexual outlaws, it's also by far strangest.
Leone only made a total of five Spaghetti Westerns, releasing his final film in 1972 and retiring from his self-made genre when he noticed that audiences were mocking film titles and contrived storylines.
Naturally, filmmakers began to spoof films, and a plethora of Western comedies followed. But by mid-'70s, Spaghetti Western genre faded away.
I haven't always been a fan of this genre, it just happened by fluke. These films defy description. The whole magic is in rattling of spurs and cutaways to Eastwood's squinting glare. Next time you're at Blockbuster move away from New Releases wall (they all suck, anyway) and pick up a copy of The Good, Bad and Ugly. You'll be hooked, and I ain't just whistlin' Dixie.
Student writer, professional daydreamer. Go to www.pumpkin-face.com for a complete list of articles.