Well, it’s been a long time, but Kevin Grant’s definitive guide to the Spaghetti Western genre, Any Gun Can Play, has finally been released and is available from Amazon. Well, let me rephrase that – it’s already sold out at Amazon, where it’s listed as being #70 in film references and guides…
Here’s the blurb:
THE EURO-WESTERN BEYOND LEONE
The success of Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy in the ’60s sparked a gold rush, as a legion of European film-makers – many of them sharing the get-rich-quick mentality of Leone’s mercenary anti-heroes – followed the master’s lead to create some of the wildest Westerns ever made.
Cynical and stylish, bloody and baroque, Euro-westerns replaced straight-shooting sheriffs and courageous cowboys with amoral adventurers, whose murderous methods would shock the heroes of Hollywood Westerns. These films became box-office sensations around the world, and their influence can still be felt today.
Any Gun Can Play puts the phenomenon into perspective, exploring the films’ wider reaches, their recurrent themes, characters, quirks and motifs. It examines Euro-westerns in relation to their American ancestors and the mechanics of the Italian popular film industry, and spotlights the unsung actors, directors and other artists who subverted the ‘code’ of the Western and dragged it into the modern age.
Based on years of research backed up by interviews with many of the genre’s leading lights, including actors Franco Nero, Giuliano Gemma and Gianni Garko, writer Sergio Donati, and directors Sergio Sollima and Giuliano Carnimeo, Any Gun Can Play will satisfy both connoisseurs and the curious.
Complete with a foreword by Euro-Western legend Franco Nero, this stunningly illustrated reference guide takes aim at the lingering notion that the genre has little to offer beyond the ‘Dollars’ films and a fistful of others, exposing the full, vibrant history of the Euro-western.
By Euro-western legend Franco Nero, star of Django, A Professional Gun and Keoma, among others.
An overview of Euro-westerns, their origins and characteristics, plus the major professionals whose careers they launched, prolonged or transformed.
Early Euro-westerns were hit-and-miss affairs, but A Fistful of Dollars is not the only film from the genre’s formative period worthy of recognition.
A BULLET SPENT, A DOLLAR EARNED
In the wake of For a Few Dollars More, the genre matured and broadened its horizons, presenting a misanthropic world-view, leavened with irony, that perfectly matched the tenor of the times.
RELATIVES AND RELIGION
Many Italian Westerns skewed their stories towards the home market, serving up stereotypical stories of troublesome females, feuding families and a satirical or critical treatment of religion.
‘GOD FORGIVES… I DON’T!’
Euro-westerns posit a world where betrayal is rife and violence ever-present, taking the theme of revenge to extraordinary extremes.
‘DON’T BUY BREAD, BUY DYNAMITE’
Euro-westerns were unashamedly populist, and many of them adopted a left-wing stance in the late Sixties, reflecting the influence of radical film-makers and the political atmosphere of the times.
BEWARE OF FAKE GUNS
While American Westerns had Jesse James, Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid, European film-makers invented a pantheon of their own, populated by the likes of Django, Ringo, Sabata, Sartana and Trinity.
COWBOYS, COMEDIANS AND KUNG FU STARS
Many Euro-westerns were hybrids not just of cultural traditions and film-making styles, but also tones, subjects and settings, with elements such as mystery, comedy, horror and martial arts not uncommon.
DESOLATION AND DECONSTRUCTION
The genre burned brightly but briefly, and by the early Seventies it was in decline. This chapter examines what these latecomers have to offer, and whether they have been dismissed too lightly.
WHO’S WHO IN EURO-WESTERNS
A biographical A-Z of the most important and prolific actors, directors, composers, etc.
A chronological listing of European Westerns.
I haven’t had the chance to look at it all yet, but congratulations to Kevin and using my not-particularly-honed psychic skills I feel happy prediciting that this is worth every penny of the £13 odd that it’s selling for!