Five Spaghetti Westerns You Must Watch

The Western genre can be roughly divided into the American category and Italian spaghetti variety.

It has often been said that the Americans did not know how to make entertaining Westerns. They focused more on cowboys versus Indians, or civil wars or plain comedy.

The Italians opt for entertainment with a shootout as a grand finale. There were gimmicks galore, the protagonists were larger than life and there were seedy henchmen with Mexican accents who were ready to heap atrocities on any moving being.

Here are five spaghetti Westerns which will keep you entertained:

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Cast: Claudia Cardinale, Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson.
Director: Sergio Leone

This is an unusually long film, stretching to nearly three hours. It is not one of those films packed with action and gunfights. It is slow and sometimes ponderous but it grabs your attention. The story revolves around a landowner who is killed and his land grabbed by a railroad baron for setting up a line through it. However, plans go awry when a mysterious individual with a harmonica arrives to help the widowed wife of the landowner.

He joins hands with a notorious bandit and the three take on a ruthless killer hired by the baron for his takeover plan. This film is rated among the all-time greats. The build-up to the final shootout is very well handled by the master of Westerns Sergio Leone. Henry Fonda reveals a new side to his considerable acting skills by playing a cold-blooded killer and does a magnificent job of it.

Death Rides a Horse (1967)

Cast: Lee Van Cleef, John Phillip Law, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli
Director: Giulio Petroni

A boy who sees his father killed and his mother and sister raped by a gang of outlaws seeks revenge by joining forces with a gunfighter 15 years later.

The boy remembers the killers and their peculiar characteristics. He manages to kill each one of them with the help of the gunfighter. However, there is a twist to the tale and the boy is caught in a dilemma.

This fast paced feature keeps you engrossed despite its familiar tale.


Cast: Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, Jack Palance, Fernando Rey
Director: Sergio Corbucci

The Mexican Revolution is the backdrop of this tale about a peasant and other mercenaries who are seeking out a rebel leader.

Two top Italian actors, Nero and Milian, who made their names in the Western genre, appear for the first time together.

There are a number of gunfights, double crossing, and violence to keep you occupied. The film is among the best rated Westerns and worth a watch.

For a Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Josef Edgar
Director: Sergio Leone

This is the first of the “Man with No Name” trilogy, often overshadowed by the more popular sequels For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. However, this film played a key role in making the spaghetti brand of films popular in the US and elsewhere.

The story is based in a border town in Mexico. It deals with an opportunist stranger who plays along with two warring families to get his hand on a gold shipment.

He gets badly injured during a fight and is smuggled out of the town in a coffin. He is nursed back to shape at a monastery and is finally fit enough to take his revenge. The film brought Eastwood to prominence. He reprised the “Man with No Name” character in the sequels.

Django (1966)

Cast: Franco Nero, Loredana Nusciak
Director: Sergio Corbucci

This is a classic Western film which is still remembered but rarely watched. It follows the story of a former soldier who gets involved in a bitter feud.

It was a major launching pad for Franco Nero. The film is extremely violent and was not released in the UK until 1993. Quentin Tarantino paid tribute to character in Django Unchained by giving Nero a brief appearance as the original Django.

Despite its violence, the film is rated very highly among Spaghetti Westerns.


#Views expressed in this column are the authors All images used for representation only. 


Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur

Babu Kalyanpur, ( Consulting Editor) has rich experience in both sports and business journalism. Babu has led news desks in Pune and Bahrain and writes extensively on his passion, sports and business besides current affairs and matters of importance to Pune.
Babu Kalyanpur

Latest posts by Babu Kalyanpur (see all)