Spaghetti Westerns

It’s summertime! Lots of students on summer vacation are flocking to (going to in large numbers) movie theaters.

Students today may be surprised to learn how popular Westerns were before the 1970s. They may be more surprised to learn that some of the most famous classic (well-known and respected) Westerns weren’t even filmed in the U.S.

A Western is a movie about the Western part of the United States during the 1800s, when there were a lot of cowboys (men who ride horses and move cattle (cows) from one place to another), Indians (now called “Native Americans” or “American Indians”), and ranchers (people who owned many cattle).

Even though Westerns were about the American West, in the 1960s, many Western films were made by Italian studios (companies that make movies). These Italian Westerns are known by the nickname (informal name) “Spaghetti Westerns.” (Spaghetti is a common, long type of noodle or pasta from Italy.)

Many Spaghetti Westerns were filmed (recorded) in the Spanish desert (a hot, dry, sandy area) because it looked similar to parts of the American West. Also, because Spaniards spoke Spanish, it was easy to find Spanish-speaking actors to act as Mexicans, usually fighting against the American cowboys.

Spaghetti Westerns were very violent, with a lot of fighting. They were also filmed in a minimalist (simple) style, and many people did not like these movies for that reason. But in the 1980s people began to appreciate (see as being good or worthwhile) Spaghetti Westerns because they realized how influential (having a lot of impact) they were in shaping (causing to change) Americans’ views of the American West.

Three of the most famous Spaghetti Westerns are those in the trilogy (a series of three related movies) called “Man With No Name,” directed by the Italian director Sergio Leone. Before Clint Eastwood became an Academy Award winning director, he was a very popular star (main character) in 1960s Westerns, including in this trilogy.

The three movies in the trilogy are “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” The third movie — “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” — is probably still one of the most famous Westerns ever made.

~ ESLPod Team

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Photo Credit: from Wikipedia
* This post was adapted from “What Insiders Know” from Cultural English 80. To see the rest of the Learning Guide, including a Glossary, Sample Sentences, Comprehension Questions, a Complete Transcript of the entire lesson and more, become a Select English Member.
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12 Responses to Spaghetti Westerns

  1. Mary Carmen says:


    My favourite of the trilogy is For a Few Dollars More, especially its soundtrack. By the way, the title of this film in Spanish would be “the death has a prize” which, this time, I appreciate more than in the original language.

    Let me tell you something that happened to me recently. I had to call a locksmith and when i was telling him my problem, his phone rung with this movie ringtone. It sounded to me so nice, that I instantly guess that he would do a good work.
    What it finally was true: I am now very happy with my new lock.

    You know, some kind of irrational.


  2. Peter says:

    Howdy ,

    I used to watch spaghetti Western as a child.
    I was obsessed with them in my adolescence time.
    I loved gun slingers in the movies
    And my all time favourite gun slinger was and still
    Clint Eastwood
    U know
    I don’t know how to put it
    There is an air about him.
    The role he plays in western movies is totally Him.
    He is made for that kind of movies
    I ,too ,think the trilogy is the most popular Spaghetti western

    I have watched the three of them like milion times still can’t get enough of them
    I watched them so many times that I totally lip syn the lines with the characters.

    I watched gun slinger Western movies copiously in my teen and post teen years.
    I felt like it is where I really belong.
    I don’t know
    As some level ,I could relate to them

    I dare to say I almost watched all the sphalerite westerns movies out ther, all the famous ones at least.


  3. Peter says:

    I usually go it alone. Meaning ,I go to the movies all by myself.
    Given I m a movie goer, it has turned to this lonley experience.
    Honest, I prefer watching movies with s bunch male friends that gal pals.
    I don’t know wether it is just me or women tend to get chatty watching movies.
    Well ,according to my experience ,every time I went to the movies with a date,I ,half the movie in, I wanted to turn a gun on myself. I akways ended up retaking the movie.
    I keep asking my male friends to join the escalade,but they turn me down every time. They see it as a boondoggle
    They keep calling me on that. I mean they keep saying I get all boondoggle.

    Ergo I catch movies all by myself

  4. Peter says:


    Guess what I m off today.
    Well , I called in sick as I have a frog in my throat.
    Well ,it all creeped over on me last night. I have racked up a couple of sick days already so I figured “hell with it let’s cash in one of them . ”

    Might as well ,I can’t bank them on anyway.

    U see what I m saying ?

    The problem is ,Compony has a zero tolerance about it. I mean , There are hard and fast rules about it.

    Generally ,
    Staffers get 12 sick days per year spreading all over the year. Meaning ,Employees don’t get to string them together and get an straight 12 days off.
    There is no roll over policy attached to it either. We ,the staff, don’t get to accumulate sick days till the end of work year cycle.
    I mean ,we can but if we do we will losses them. It is not like they will be rolled over on to the next year.

    The company has a very strict policy about it. I m telling you. Should u bend the rule there , u will be reprimanded for the breach severely.

    Anyway ,it is not the point.
    The point is :
    Skimming the post the other day, I was intrigued!!

    I mean , it prompted me to rewatch the trilogy once more through all hours of the night last nigh.
    Yup, I was up through wee hours watching the trio :))
    They are doozy !! To say the least

    They get me every time.

    I got just three hours of sleep last night
    So this morning I was all disoriented ,drowsy and grouchy.

    I m getting some caffeine in me as we speak.

    U know what they say ,
    “When it rains it pours ”
    I could barely keep my eyes open and the star bucks app on my phone was acting up. I loaded 10 dollars in the app yesterday.
    U see
    I m standing in line -feeling half sleep -waiting for my turn to get a tall pike. I get up to the head of the line.
    As I was going to place the order, I realized the damn app doesn’t open. Man
    Sometimes I think the star bucks app has a life of its own.

    Long story short ,I ended up paying in cash:
    2 dollars even.

    Things you do for a fresh dose of caffeine.


  5. Peter says:

    U know
    In my book ,What makes gunslinger movies of 60s one of a kind is not just
    The occasional lynching or gun fights on the alleyways of bars or even dules that I get a serious kick out of 🙂 but The particular way they give one another lip and call one anther out. some -by that I mean me -might find it very charming.:))))
    Plus ,The wise cracks ,being smart and everything make the 2/3 hour runtime of the movies feel like a bout.

    Sorry for my obsession with this post. The thing is it totally took me back.

    I really enjoyed the post

    Thanks eslpod team

  6. Peter says:

    Even all-around douch charctors “the outlaws ” are lovable characters in the western spaghetie movie.

    Spain ?
    Really !?

    My impression all along was they are all shot in mexic or sth.


  7. Mary Carmen says:

    Hi again!

    Almería, Peter. It’s a part of Andalucía, on the South-East of Spain.

    Wistling, wistling. There is a Spanish man called Curro (Francisco) Savoy, who became very popular wistling songs. In the USA, he changed his name as Kurt Savoy.He also performed the songs of those Spaghetti Westerns, although he wasn’t the original wistler.
    I’ve seen him in a video and it’s amazing the way he does it, because he lets the air go between his teeth! It sounds so fine..

    Mari Carmen

  8. Mary Carmen says:

    Me again
    I’ve said Spanish man, but i should have said Spanish musician. It’s more appropiate.
    Mari Carmen

  9. Mary Carmen says:

    What a shame!
    Whistle is spelled with h. A recurrent mistake of mine, it’s my fault.
    Mari Carmen

  10. Mary Carmen says:

    Talking about whistling:
    Once I heard that in a French speaking country – I don’t remember now which is – it is considered a jinx whistling inside a building.
    A funny superstition, isn’t it?


  11. Peter says:

    U know
    Clint Eastwood was the fastest gun across the wild Wild West


  12. Peter says:

    Howdy ,
    As far as I m concerned , back in the golden era of Hollywood Casting directors factor in rather put some emphasize on the way actors look. And I heard, singing voice was a petemeter too.
    U know back then, in 50s, 60s,and 70s the majority of actors were beautiful ,good looking.
    back then , boy
    Clint Eastwood is a living prof of it.
    Think about it
    I can line up the name of dozens of beautiful ,hot actors from back then.
    Elizabeth Taylor for example
    Suzan Hayward
    Alain Delon
    Tony Curtis
    And tons of others

    Unfortunately ,the feature missing in today ‘s Hollywood
    Seems like , a good look is knocked off the list of criteria


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