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THE BIG GUNDOWN (1966) - A Fistful of Westerns: A Spaghetti Western Celebration


In the 1960s, from the depths of Italian exploitation cinema, which had long reworked American genres, came a new way of appreciating that most American of films : the western. In the late 1960s, almost half of the films produced in Italy were westerns. Despite a ‘western’ setting, these movies were never shot in America, and often featured dubbed European or English-speaking stars, and showcased a greater sense of stylish operatic violence, edgy political commentary and a twisted sense of humour than their American cousins. The cycle of spaghetti westerns lasted just a few years, but before hanging up its spurs in the 70s, it completely rewrote the genre, and introduced back to Americans a new way of experiencing a class of film that they had previously thought they owned. Sergio Leone’s 1964 A Fistful of Dollars (1964) defined the spaghetti style: from the vast desert vistas (filmed in Spain!) to the moody micro-close ups, the dance-of-death shootouts and the majestic and exotic Ennio Morricone score. It made star Clint Eastwood such an iconic gunslinging figure that he now arguably defines the image of the western over John Wayne. This summer at Deptford Cinema, ride back with us to the Italian West!

THE BIG GUNDOWN: The tall, lean and flinty-eyed American actor Lee Van Cleef enjoyed a career resurgence thanks to his roles in the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns alongside Clint Eastwood, but in The Big Gundown he takes centre stage, teamed up with another directing Sergio- Sergio Sollima- for one of the more political spaghetti westerns. The Big Gundown sports a bold and twangy Ennio Morricone score, a gritty performance from Van Cleef, memorable villains, and great chemistry between both Van Cleef and co-star Tomas Milian, who plays the wily Mexican bandit Cuchillo.

  • dir: Sergio Sollima
  • Year: 1966
  • country: Italy|Spain|
  • run-time: 84m.
  • rating: 18

£6.00 (£4.50 conc.)

Doors 19:00 - Film 19:30