Book Review: Spaghetti Westerns: The Good, The Bad and the Violent book review
Review of Spaghetti Westerns: the Good, the Bad And the Violent by Thomas Weisser, Forewords by Craig Ledbetter and Tom Betts, Comments by Wiliam Connolly; 1992, McFarland & Co., 502 pages.
As most of you reading this probably know, between 1960 and 1975, there were over 600 spaghetti westerns produced, something that was news to me as I started exploring the genre. And as I started writing reviews, I needed a hard-copy of something to use as a reference. That book has been "Spaghetti Westerns: the Good, The Bad, and the Violent", by Thomas Weisser. In addition to having information on 558 films , there's also a section containing filmographies of the actors, cinematographers, directors and other film personnel There's even a few good lists, such as all of the Django and Sartana films, top 10 lists, and more.
The films are arranged in alphabetical order, with the various names the films appeared under in different countries, director, scriptwriter, music composer, producer, and cast. Some of the entries are highly detailed, others minimal, understandable considering both the variances in quality and the sheer amount of films that were made. Sometimes it's a full blown review, other times a tiny bit of information.
Now, this book is quite controversial amongst fans, and for valid reasons. It's filled with quite a few inaccuracies and there's times where I'll read a review that either gets a detail or a name wrong, or even worse, pulls something out of thin air. For example, in his blurb on Matalo, on page 215, he mentions how Lou Castel's character (who he erroneously says is named "Matalo") is "hired by Wells Fargo to find the outlaws and the stolen gold, which he does". There is no reference to this in the movie whatsoever. Castel's character is simply introduced lying down near death in the desert, there's no mention of him working for Wells Fargo, and the only reason he even runs into the outlaws is becuse he stumbles into the abandoned town for help. So it can be quite frustrating sometimes, as is Weisser's penchant for giving away a surprise ending every now and then. It makes one wonder somtimes if Weisser's ever actually seen some of the movies he writes about. There's a whole forum board dedicated to Weisser's errors over at lovelockandload (no longer online), as well as a big thread in the SWDB forums.
So, obviously, this book does leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, as far as I know, this is still the most complete English-language guide to the genre, so our choices are severely limited. I'd advise picking it up, just be aware of the problems, and double-check something if you're going to rely on information you get from it.
This article is part of the A Fistful of Pasta archive