Charles Bronson in Sergio Leone's 'Once Upon a Time in the West'

‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ on Amazon Prime and Criterion Channel

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) puts the opera into “horse opera.” Leave it to the Italians to put genuine operatic dimension into the great American saga of western expansion. Sergio Leone’s loving tribute to the myth of the American West leaves the cool, cruel mercenary world of the Clint Eastwood Dollar films […]

‘Starcrash’ – the most marvelously ridiculous ‘Star Wars’ knock-off on Amazon Prime

The shamelessly and fabulously derivative Italian space opera Starcrash (1979) is both the most ridiculous and the most irresistible of all the Star Wars knock-offs of the late seventies and eighties. Caroline Munro spends much of the film in a black latex bikini as the great outlaw starship pilot Stella Star, who is arrested by […]

Clint Eastwood stars in Sergio Leone's 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'

‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video

There are two kinds of people, my friend. Those who love Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and those who resist the machismo and gallows humor of what is arguably the definitive spaghetti western. Leone’s first real attempt at mythologizing his vision of the American west (shot, of course, in the […]

‘The Long Hair of Death’ – Barbara Steele takes sweet revenge on Amazon Prime Video

Antonio Margheriti is best known to modern audiences (if at all) thanks to Quentin Tarantino, who memorialized his name in Inglorious Basterds; it’s Brad Pitt’s cover name as he infiltrates a Nazi function and he can’t even pronounce it. The real Antonio Margheriti was a prolific director cranking out genre pictures through the 1960s and […]

John Cassavetes, Britt Ekland, Peter Falk, and Gena Rowlands

John Cassavetes is ‘Machine Gun McCain’ on Amazon Prime Video

John Cassavetes was doing his Orson Welles thing—by that I mean acting in whatever movie paid well so he could finance his own, personal productions—when he took the lead in Machine Gun McCain (Italy, 1968), an Italian mob picture/heist movie hybrid shot in large part on location in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. […]

Robert Hossein directs and stars in 'Cemetery Without Crosses,' a spaghetti western with French seasonings

‘Cemetery Without Crosses’ on Amazon Prime

A spaghetti western with French seasonings, Cemetery Without Crosses (1969) is a Franco-Italian co-production shot in Almeria, Spain, the definitive badlands landscape of the Euro-western. The director, screenwriters, two stars, and even composer are French and the supporting cast largely Italian. And while this is not shot in the widescreen dimension of CinemaScope, de rigueur […]

Henry Silva and Woody Strode in Fernando di Leo's gangster classic

‘The Italian Connection’ – Mob schemes on Amazon Prime Video

The Italian Connection (Italy, 1972), from Italy’s king of crime cinema Fernando di Leo, stars Mario Adani (the top dog thug of the Americano’s gang in di Leo’s earlier Caliber 9) as Luca, a remarkably affable and well-liked pimp whose popularity on the street makes the Milan boss nervous. So he frames Luca for a […]

Giuliano Gemma (billed as Montgomery Wood) as Ringo in the spaghetti westerns from Dessario Tessari

Spaghetti Blu-ray: A pair of ‘Ringo’s and ‘A Fistful of Dynamite’

A Pistol for Ringo/The Return of Ringo: Two Films by Dessario Tessari (Arrow, Blu-ray) A Fistful of Dynamite (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray) Duccio Tessari is not one of the directors known for spaghetti westerns. In fact, he only directed two in his long and successful career, both with Giuliano Gemma (billed as Montgomery Wood) playing against […]

Fernando Di Leo’s ‘Milieu Trilogy’ on Amazon Prime Video and Fandor

Fernando di Leo was, in the estimation of genre-hound Quentin Tarantino, “the master” of the Italian crime movie, or the “poliziotteschi.” A violent action genre that picked up the escalating violence of American films like Dirty Harry and The French Connection, films where blood spattered and cops got their hands dirty, it was never as […]

Clint Eastwood stars in the iconic spaghetti western by Sergio Leone

‘A Fistful of Dollars’ on Amazon Prime and Hulu

When Sergio Leone’s sunbaked A Fistful of Dollars (1967) rode into American theaters, caked in dust and sweat and stubble, critics dismissed it a cheap western, and a European knock-off at that. It was a blatant rip-off of Akira Kurosawa’s cynical samurai hit Yojimbo with American TV star Clint Eastwood, known to audiences as the impetuous […]