Forgive Me, Spirit of the West, for I Have Sinned

One of my favorite recent movies is Rango, a kids movie in which a lizard finds himself through a fevered Spaghetti Western dream. The key moment in the spiritual journey occurs when he treks across the highway to meet The Spirit of the West, who looks a lot like some guy with no name. The Spirit of the West cut an imposing and testosterone-fueled vision. In fact, I’m so in awe of the character that I have a confession to make. Forgive me, Spirit of the West. For I have sinned.

In case you live under a rock like I apparently did until I was 31, this movie is amazing.

In 2007, I corrected a major error. I was 31 years old, and yet I had never seen The Man With No Name trilogy- Sergio Leone’s trio of films featuring Clint Eastwood. I started ass-backwards by watching The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966), the final film in the trilogy, first. Granted, the films are only tied together by two characters, so there were no key plot points missed. It was approximately 60 seconds into the film’s opening sequence when I realized I was about to witness greatness. Then I ripped through the two other films in the trilogy, went on a little bit of a Clint Eastwood bender, and I was a bona fide Eastwood fan in no time. I had left something in my wake.

Now it’s 2012, and I’m 36 years old. When people bring up the Spaghetti Western genre, I beam about how much I love it. But the sad truth is that I haven’t seen all that much. Other than the Man With No Name trilogy, here is the complete list of Spaghetti Westerns that I’ve seen:

-Duck, You Sucker (1971)
-10 minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
-A crappy, barely audible copy of Death Rides a Horse (1967)
-The opening credits sequence of Edgar Wright’s first film, A Fistful of Fingers (1995), which doesn’t even count anyway

Guess what I’ll be watching soon?

That’s it- two full movies, and only one in which I could even hear what the hell was going on. I’ve been lying all this time about loving the genre. In reality, what I should have been saying is that I love Eastwood Westerns, a micro-genre that includes some Spaghetti Westerns. Of course, you realize this means war. My New Year’s resolutions have either been conquered or petered out by now, so I might as well tack on a new one for the rest of 2012. With Quentin Tarantino’s pending Spaghetti Western nerdgasm just a few months away, now seems like as good a time as any to go full bore into the genre. That way, when there’s some mildly inconsequential scene, I can accurately say “That’s just like what happened in that Mario Lafranchi film I saw in October!”

I can only hope that my offering to the Spirit of the West appeases the angry, dusty, squinting God.


Filed under Movies

26 responses to “Forgive Me, Spirit of the West, for I Have Sinned

  1. I haven’t seen Rango yet but it is on my catch up list… I have seen a few more Spaghetti Westerns than you but I loved the ones I saw. I highly recommend Once Upon A Time in The West.
    And if interested I wrote a piece on QT’s next film here:
    It’s called Hopes and expectations for Django Unchained!

  2. Phil

    Very funny. Same here, I love Spaghetti Westerns, but really haven’t seen much other than the Leone films. The Great Silence with Klaus Kinski is good, and I need to see the original Django before Qt’s movie comes out.

  3. surroundedbyimbeciles

    Once Upon a Time in the West was the first Spaghetti Western that I watched. It has some great scenes but a confusing. I only understood it after studying American West history. In my mind, nothing compares to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. However, the Call Me Nobody films are pretty good.

    • You- and I mean you, specifically, not you in the generic sense- could probably write a killer book about historical accuracy in film.

      • surroundedbyimbeciles

        Thanks. I haven’t considered that before. I have my survey students watch a film and write a paper in that manner. Now, I’m going to do it.

  4. goregirl

    I have loved Sergio Leone for many years and I can’t recommend more highly checking out Once Upon A Time in the West, also My Name is Nobody. In the last few years I have watched several non-Leone Italian Westerns. and I still have many more in my queue. Terence Hill is quickly becoming a favourite in this genre along with Franco Nero. A few Italian westerns I have particlularly enjoyed are Keoma, Django Sees Red, Johnny Hamlet, and Django (1966 with Nero).

    I have not seen Rango…I’ll put it in the queue.

    • Oh crap… these are all awesome Netflix recommendations. I’m adding as many as I can find. Unfortunately, they don’t have Johnny Hamlet, which is one of the coolest movie names I’ve ever heard.

  5. Once Upon a Time in the West is the greatest western ever made. It just is. Nothing can possibly compare. The score is bonechilling.

    Rio Bravo</em. is probably the second best. Damn, that movie's amazing. Check both of those out at any cost.

  6. John,you made me feel guilty,because I have seen less Spaghetti Westerns than you and I consider myself a Western buff.

    The truth is there aren’t quite many Spaghetti Westerns around,I wish I could see more but there is no way I can see them,I don’t even know what to see.

    Like above,I strongly suggest you finish Once Upon a Time in the West.

    • I know what you mean, David. When I searched for a list of what exactly qualifies as a “Spaghetti” Western, I hadn’t even heard of half of what was on most “Best of” lists.

  7. I’m shocked that you haven’t seen Once Upon a Time in the West. I may even prefer that to The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (though I am due to revisit that one).

    • I got 10 minutes in to Once Upon a Time, something came up, I couldn’t finish it, and there was some new release I had to get from Netflix so I sent it back.

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  9. Really good article- very personal and humorous. There’s just so much out there to see in this Genre- suggest Encore Westerns and The Spaghetti Western database for starters!

  10. Your Sister in Law

    Okay, even your SIL has seen “Once Upon a Time in the West” when she was 10 years old. At the time it was my favorite western, I loved Claudia Cardinale and wanted to be her. As for Spaghetti Westerns, I think I saw a lot of them, since at the time on Saturday afternoon Belgium TV would broadcast them.

  11. No shame there. Clint’s spaghetti offerings are decent, but I can’t recommend Django highly enough. The problem with the genre is that there are just thousands of them of varying quality. I also loved the hell out of Rango….the man with no name might be the most priceless cameo ever!

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