Category Archives: Westerns



Tickets are still available for see Ennio Morricone and his orchestra and choir in concert at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire this week. This is part of his 60 Years of Music tour. Spaghetti western fans should know that Morricone has added a selection of themes from The Hateful Eight and the 1970s Sean Connery film The Red Tent to his live programme.

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The concerts he has played so far (before shows were cancelled due to his on-going back ailment) includes themes from The Best Offer, The Legend of 1900, Baaria, Maddalena, Metti, Una Sera a Cena, A Fistful of Dynamite, Cinema Paradiso, Once Upon a Time in America, The Mission and Burn!

There’s more information at the Nocturne site here:

Announcement from Ennio Morricone’s Facebook page:

One of the world’s greatest film composers, the Maestro Ennio Morricone and his 200+ orchestra will perform live in the beautiful surroundings of Blenheim Palace on 23rd June this summer.

Tickets begin from £25, and are available here:



Some exciting new projects to announce for 2015. Arrow Films has recently revealed that it will soon be releasing two important Euro-cult classics – Tonino Valerii’s spaghetti western DAY OF ANGER (1967) and Mario Bava’s giallo thriller BLOOD AND BLACK LACE (1964).

Day of Anger

Both films are being released in Blu-ray and DVD combo releases, with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE also being issued as a steelbook Blu-ray edition. The editions include both the English language and Italian language versions of the films, and are packed with extras including documentaries, alternative version and interviews. I’m pleased to say that I’ve contributed booklet essays to both releases.


All the disks are being released almost simultaneously in the UK and US. DAY OF ANGER comes out in the UK on 30 March, with BLOOD AND BLACK LACE out on 13 April. In America, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE is out on 14 April and DAY OF ANGER will be out on 31 March. Titles are available to pre-order now – from Amazon or directly from Arrow Films.

As a follow-on from my 2013 e-book MARIO BAVA: DESTINATION TERROR (see earlier post), I’m currently working on a new book for I.B. Tauris. TERROR EATS THE SOUL: THE SPINE-TINGLING GUIDE TO EURO-HORROR will be published in paperback in 2016. It will look at all aspects of Euro-horror cinema, from Hammer Horrors and German Krimis, to gothics, zombies, vampires, werewolves and gialli.


I’ve also started writing a new series for CINEMA RETRO magazine on Raquel Welch’s three big-screen western outings. WELCH OUT WEST will be running across the next three issues of the magazine, which is the whole of RETRO’s 2015 season 11. The first part, in issue #31, is “NO NOOSE IS GOOD NOOSE”, which looks at BANDOLERO! (1968) co-starring James Stewart and Dean Martin. The two follow-up parts examine the shot-in-Spain westerns 100 RIFLES (1969) and HANNIE CAULDER (1971).


[above: publicity still of Raquel Welch on location in Utah for ‘Bandolero!’]

Issue #31 includes my article on the quartet of Italian science-fiction movies made by director Antonio Margheriti and set on space station GAMMA ONE. These lively, colourfully weird cult movies include THE WILD WILD PLANET, WAR OF THE PLANETS, WAR BETWEEN THE PLANETS and THE SNOW DEVILS. The Moon may not be made from cheese, but these films certainly are.


The issue also includes:

• A tribute to Pam Grier, the “First Lady” of kick-ass cinema • Exclusive interview with film preservationist Charles Cohen of the Cohen Film Collection • “Film in Focus” article dedicated to that great 1970’s film noir flick “Farewell My Lovely” with Robert Mitchum as Philip Marlowe • Celebrating the life and career of director Ted Post (“Hang ‘Em High”, “The Harrad Experiment”, “Magnum Force”, “Beneath the Planet of the Apes”) • “James Bond’s Portugal” – some of the key OHMSS locations then and now. • Reliving the wonders of VistaVision • “The New Avengers” at Pinewood Studios • Richard Burton and Rex Harrison as gay lovers in the forgotten gem “Staircase” Plus: “Bite the Bullet”, Hammer star Olinka Berova, “Mark of the Devil”, Raymond Benson’s Ten Best Films of 1950, Joe Namath as “The Last Rebel”, all the latest DVD, film book and soundtrack reviews.

Issue #31 is now available and can be ordered from CINEMA RETRO directly.



As this is my 50th blog post, it seems appropriate for this to discuss the 50th anniversary of the Italian release of Sergio Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. Its release on 12 September 1964 marked the birth of the spaghetti western genre. Some outtakes have surfaced of the film’s making in Spain and Italy, from the archives of the Cineteca Di Bologna, which has been restoring Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy. These aren’t the first outtakes from the film to have emerged, but they are perhaps the most interesting, for what they reveal about action filmmaking in Europe in the 1960s.

During the 11-week shooting schedule, the film was known as RAY EL MAGNIFICO in Spain and as IL MAGNIFICO STRANIERO in Italy. For the film’s eventual release, Leone settled on the title PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI, which became A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS in its English language publicity and promotional artwork – though the actual onscreen title on international prints is simply FISTFUL OF DOLLARS.

Fistful titles

I’ve written an overview of the behind the scenes extracts and outtakes, which you can read at the Spaghetti Western Database.

The behind the scenes clips can be seen here:

There’s much more about the making of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and Leone’s other spaghetti westerns in my books ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE ITALIAN WEST, AIM FOR THE HEART: THE FILMS OF CLINT EASTWOOD and STAGECOACH TO TOMBSTONE: THE FILMGOERS’ GUIDE TO THE GREAT WESTERNS, all published by I.B. Tauris and available in stores and online as paperback, hardback and e-book.




I’ve not posted any articles or news up here for a while, mainly due to work, business and general busyness, as 2014 has turned into a rather hectic year. The new issue of ‘Cinema Retro’ (Issue #29) continues my ongoing series looking at Oakmont Productions’ World War II movies, with the rarity ‘The Last Escape’, starring Stuart Whitman and Pinkas Braun. The next issue will feature the sixth and final part of the series, with an in-depth look at my favourite of the ‘Oakmonts’, the Mediterranean-set ‘Hell Boats’, starring James Franciscus and Elizabeth Shepherd.

Issue #29 is on sale now via the usual outlets, including Ebay and Amazon, and also includes my reviews of the new Lee Van Cleef Blu-ray/DVD combos from Explosive Media, ‘Sabata’ and ‘Death Rides a Horse’.

There’s a full description and ordering details here

I’ve also been working on a project for Taschen, which will be published in the fall, and on ongoing projects including a new spaghetti western film guide. I travelled to Paris in February to see Ennio Morricone’s live concert in Bercy, the second night of his ‘My Life in Music’ tour (more of which in a future post, it was a great concert) and attended Sir Christopher Frayling’s presentation of the spaghetti western classic ‘For a Few Dollars More’ as part of the Bradford International Film Festival 2014 in April, which was superb to see on the big screen at Pictureville, with a large crowd in attendance.

Here’s Ennio Morricone conducting Jill’s theme from ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ in the Palais Omnisports, Bercy, 4 February, 2014, with Susanna Rigacci (soprano) and the Budapest Modern Art Orchestra.

This month sees the publication of my new Filmgoers Guide, ‘Outer Limits’, the fifth in the series after ‘Crime Wave’, ‘Once Upon a Time in the Italian West’, ‘Stagecoach to Tombstone’ and ‘When Eagles Dared’.




Outer Limits explores science-fiction cinema through 26 great films, from the silent classic Metropolis to today. It reviews the galaxy of stars and directors who have created some of the most popular films of all time, including George Lucas’s ‘Star Wars’ films, Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Minority Report, James Cameron’s ‘Terminator’ films and Ridley Scott’s milestones Alien and Blade Runner. It also discusses everything from A-listers 2001: A Space Odyssey and Planet of the Apes, to Japanese monster movies, 1950s B-movies, creature features and cult favourites, depicting time travel, distant planets or alien invasions. Films featured include The War of the Worlds, Independence Day, Tarantula, Godzilla, The Thing, Forbidden Planet, Barbarella, Galaxy Quest, Mad Max 2, Back to the Future, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Star Trek, Apollo 13, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Matrix and many more.

As well as covering acknowledged science-fiction classics, Outer Limits takes diversions into B-movies, looking at everything from Fiend without a Face and IT! The Terror from beyond Space, to Roger Corman’s Not of This Earth and It Conquered the World. There’s colourful, vibrant sci-fi movies from Japan (Invasion of the Astro-Monsters, Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People and Destroy All Monsters) and Italy (Planet of the Vampires and The Wild, Wild Planet), and the bleak, corrosive, monochrome British sci-fi of These Are the Damned and Quatermass 2. Other cult delights covered include I Married a Monster from Outer Space, Android, Trancers, Alien Contamination, Westworld, Goke – Bodysnatcher from Hell, The Creeping Terror, invasion of the Saucer Men, Teenagers from Outer Space, The Giant Claw and The Green Slime. Illustrated with original posters, Outer Limits is an informative, entertaining tour of the sci-fi universe.


For my Top Five underrated sci-fi films that may have passed under your radar, click here to read the I.B. Tauris blog:

‘Outer Limits: The Filmgoers Guide to the Great Science-Fiction Films’ published by I.B. Tauris is available from Waterstones, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Guardian Bookshop and many other outlets. It is out now in the UK and is published on 24 June 2014 in the US.

It is available in-store across the UK at all branches of Waterstones.

‘Outer Limits’ is also available as an e-book.






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Last month I was honoured to be invited by the Spaghetti Western Database to list my Top 20 Spaghetti Westerns. The SWDB is one of my favourite websites and if you’re a fan of westerns European-style it is worth checking in periodically for news on its main page and forum. I find it very useful for keeping up-to-date on news and reviews on DVD and Blu-ray releases. It’s particularly good on releases like Koch Media’s ‘Westerns Unchained’ series, which includes such titles as Navajo Joe and Tepepa. Koch’s release of Duccio Tessari’s A Pistol for Ringo is the definitive edition of the film in my opinion (in the correct 2.35:1 widescreen ratio) and I was also very pleased with their release of the rather more obscure spaghetti western, Sugar Colt (as Rocco – Der Mann mit den zwei Gesichtern). American DVD company Wild East are also featured regularly on the SWDB and have released spaghettis such as Kill them All and Come Back Alone, Fort Yuma Gold and Day of Anger in superior widescreen, uncut editions. The Wild East Day of Anger is definitive and a must-have for collectors, though unfortunately, as they say, it’s currently ‘widely unavailable’ on DVD.

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Of the 500+ spaghetti westerns made in the genre’s heyday, I would say that perhaps 80-100 are definitely worth viewing. As a completest though, I’m currently up to about 350 and counting, and even after that number I’m still finding some surprises. Having seen so many however, I’d like to think I know a good one when I see one.  For my Top 20, I was naturally drawn to the big directors and films of the genre, with Sergios Leone, Corbucci and Sollima featuring prominently, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is top of the list.


The other ‘Dollars’ films, Django, The Great Silence and The Big Gundown are among my perennial favourites, but I also included a second Top 20, the B-team, of worthwhile movies. It also struck me how many films still hadn’t made the cut after 40 titles. These included Johnny Hamlet, Blindman, The Stranger Returns, $10.000 Blood Money, For the Taste of Killing, Ben and Charlie, El Desperado, Massacre at Fort Holman (A Reason to Live, A Reason to Die), No Room to Die, Tepepa, Ace High (Revenge at El Paso), Today it’s Me…Tomorrow You!, Light the Fuse Sartana’s Coming, The Fighting Fist of Shangai Joe, The Forgotten Pistolero, Vengeance, Black Jack, The Five Man Army, Man of the East, Minnesota Clay, Last of the Renegades, The Specialists, The Bounty Killer, The Grand Duel, Gatling Gun, the list goes on…and so does the collecting.

You can check out the Spaghetti Western Database here:

My Top 20 Spaghetti Westerns on the SWDB is here:

There’s more about the films on my lists in my books Once Upon a Time in the Italian West: the Filmgoers’ Guide to Spaghetti Westerns and the Kamera Guide to Spaghetti Westerns.

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