Again, for this month only, we are supplying both questions and answers. So think quickly.
How much do you know about one of our favorite topics, spaghetti westerns?
The fellow to the left is a director most closely linked to the mini-genre. The fellow to the right is one of the classic Hollywood figures who starred in one of its best examples. Can you name them?
Easy? Ok, it only gets harder from here.
By the way, the spaghetti western mini-genre — begin in the mid-Sixties and so-called because productions were often generated in Rome, with exteriors shot in southern Spain — was not confined to Italy; other European countries chipped in with their locally-made oaters.
In any case, the spaghetti’s produced one indisputably great filmmaker.
Yes, he’s the guy to the left above — Sergio Leone, who died at 60 in Rome of heart failure in 1989. After years of toiling in various production jobs at the Cinecitta studios (built, incidentally, by Benito Mussolini in 1937) outside Rome in the Fifties, he got his first directoral shot at a sword-and-sandal epic, The Colossus of Rhodes starring, of all people, Rory Calhoun.
The picture was the box office hit needed boost to Calhoun’s career, providing Leone the chance to direct his first western. It was the beginning of his glorious career.
Today’s quiz will concentrate on those spaghetti westerns that provided Hollywood figures change-of-pace starring activities. Ernest Borgnine in an Italian western? You bet.
Follow our visual clues, and see if you can provide the title of the picture alluded to in each question. As the French say, bonne chance.
Yes, that IS Ernest Borgnine in this 1969 western item, a tale of revenge set in the Civil War era, a favorite period of spaghetti westerns. Borgnine plays a nasty land owner who gets his comeuppance. The movie is…
Answer: 1969’s A Bullet For Sandoval.
When this picture was released in 1966, Burt Reynolds was one of the most popular box office stars in the world. Here he plays a Native American Indian seeking revenge on a gang of sadistic outlaws. Reynolds was perhaps at his athletic best in this picture director by Sergio Corbucci. The movie is…
Answer: Navajo Joe.
That’s Rory Calhoun (right above) who, as mentioned, began his foray into Italian production making sword and sandals costume epics. In 1965, he graduated to this spaghetti western about Civil War vets vying for a hidden fortune with Indian tribesman. The movie is….
Answer: Finger on the Trigger.
While he is perhaps best remembered for his marathon performance as King Monghut in the stage and screen musical The King and I, Yul Brynner acquitted himself nicely in this spaghetti western, the second of a three titles featuring a silent, lone gunman. The title is….
Answer: Adios, Sabata.
(Bonus Question: Starring in the other two Sabata films was the fellow below, a familiar face to spaghetti western fans. Can you name him?)
Answer: Lee Van Cleef.
You should have no trouble identifying these two, costars of probably the best picture to come out of the spaghetti western genre. And, yes, it was director by the bearded fellow identified in our introduction. Can you provide the title of the picture?
Answer: 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.