- As early as 1909—with the Great Northern Film Company’s production of a very early Danish Western, Texas Tex (Fenin and Everson 1962, 56) —Westerns were a part of European films being made, often, to imitate American films. We know that by the later silent era, Westerns were well-liked in Europe. Joe Hamman was an early German cowboy star. As Westerns became increasingly popular in Europe during the early sound era, production companies were in a quandary about how to market Englishlanguage films in those countries. An early solution was to shoot a film two ways at the same time— one for American audiences and one for European audiences. Both productions would use the same scripts, sets, action scenes, and stunts but have different casts. Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail (1930) was one such film. John Wayne made his credited film debut in the film, but an alternate version with a completely different cast was made at the same time. The dual production system did not last long as Hollywood eventually figured out how to overdub speech and market subtitled films.Very early French Westerns betrayed a lack of understanding of what the West was like. In Jean Durand’s Hanging at Jefferson City (1910), the set only slightly suggests the American frontier West. Much of the film takes place in a minimally saloon-like barroom. Characters wear French farm clothes with large cowboy hats. Two lawmen actually wear uniforms, rather than the usual Western wear, and they have enormous badges pinned to their chests. The middle of the 20th century saw an enormous growth in production of cinema Westerns, particularly in Italy with Cinecitta and other studios’spaghetti Westerns.See also LEONE, Sergio.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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ITALIAN WESTERNS — See SPAGHETTI WESTERNS; EUROPEAN WESTERNS … Westerns in Cinema
SPAGHETTI WESTERNS — By the 1960s cinema Westerns were becoming so popular worldwide, especially in Europe, that the supply was having difficulty meeting the demand. Cinecitta Studios, among others, had been specializing in cheaply made, quickly produced action… … Westerns in Cinema
CORBUCCI, Sergio — (1927–1990) Often referred to as “the other Sergio” (to Sergio Leone), Italian director Sergio Corbucci developed some of the most innovative Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. While his spaghetti Westerns may not enjoy the critical reputation… … Westerns in Cinema
SCOTT, Randolph — (1898–1987) Randolph Scott was the standard by which to judge Western cowboy stars and the perfect image of the American cowboy. Tall and lean, Scott had a tough, square jawed face, lined and weathered but handsome. Rumor has it that he smiled … Westerns in Cinema
STUNTS — Spectacular stunt work is, of course, a staple for any Western or action film today. But early Western directors were slow to develop methods of using extra, stunt actors to perform death defying tricks on screen. When the hapless victims are… … Westerns in Cinema
Chronology — 1890 The year traditionally considered the official closing of the West according to the U.S. Census Bureau and also according to Frederick Jackson Turner, whose interpretation of the Western experience would dominate Western historical and… … Westerns in Cinema
DJANGO (1966) — Franco Nero, Sergio Corbucci (director) This spaghetti Western directed by “the other Sergio” redirected the Italian Western tradition toward what would be a nearly completely European Western tradition. Sergio Leone’s Westerns, beginning… … Westerns in Cinema
PALANCE, Jack — (1919–2006) Born Volodymyr Palanyuk in Pennsylvania, Jack Palance was one of the great bad guys of Westerns during his long career making a wide variety of films. His first major role was one of his best Jack Wilson, the sadistic gunfighter,… … Westerns in Cinema
CAMERA, MOVING — While in modern films the camera moves as needed to make a scene effective, early cinema Westerns employed only stationary cameras. Hollywood culture considered a mobile camera as artsy and European. Thus, even the battle scenes in an epic… … Westerns in Cinema
BARDOT, Brigitte — (1934– ). The famous French beauty was 34 and near the end of her acting career when she made her only Western, Shalako(1968), opposite Sean Connery. She played a gorgeous European gentlewoman in a Western filmed in Great Britain and in Germany … Westerns in Cinema