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10 Best Spaghetti Westerns That Don’t Star Clint Eastwood


 Clint Eastwood may be the most famous actor associated with Spaghetti Westerns, but there are many great films in the subgenre that don’t feature him.
 Directors like Sergio Sollima and Gianfranco Parolini have made noteworthy contributions to the Spaghetti Western subgenre with their films Face to Face and …If You Meet Sartana Pray For Your Death .
 Lee Van Cleef’s work in Westerns extends beyond his roles alongside Clint Eastwood, as demonstrated in Death Rides A Horse and Day of Anger .


Clint Eastwood starred in the three most famous Spaghetti Westerns, yet some of the best movies in the subgenre didn’t even feature the actor or his iconic Man With No Name character. Having origins as far back as the advent of filmmaking in Europe, the term Spaghetti Western refers to the slew of action films dramatizing the American West coming out of Italy, most notably from famed director Sergio Leone. Though the earliest film that could be called a Spaghetti Western was 1910’s The Girl of the West, it wasn’t until the ’60s that the subgenre exploded.
A huge part of the Spaghetti Western subgenre’s success was the advent of Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy. Consisting of A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, these films shot Clint Eastwood into stardom with his steely portrayal of the nameless gunslinger under the careful eye of Leone’s visionary style. However, Italian-made Westerns didn’t stop or start with Eastwood, and many of the greatest titles in the Spaghetti Western subgenre are free from the glare of his iconic squint.
10. Face To Face (1967)
Sergio Leone wasn’t the only Sergio in Italy with a penchant for the American West. Directed by Sergio Sollima, 1967’s Face to Face offers a more thoughtful take on the typically bloody Western. The film stars Gian Maria Volonté as Brad Fletcher, a professor who finds himself embroiled in the conflicts of a local gang after saving the lives of one of their members.
Eschewing the typical glorification of violence the films had become known for, Sollima’s second feature reflected instead on the corrupting nature of the setting. Fletcher’s journey from an intellectual professor to the ruthless leader of Puerto de Fuego is a fascinating character study. The clear influence of Sollima’s own experience with fascism made him consider this thoughtful Western his best work, a very grounded and personal film.

9. Death Rides A Horse (1967)
Following close behind Clint Eastwood’s popularity in the Spaghetti Western subgenre was Lee Van Cleef. The actor is best known for his work alongside Eastwood in the Dollars Trilogy, first as The Man With No Name’s ally, then as his adversary. But Lee Van Cleef’s work in Westerns extends far beyond the shadow of Clint Eastwood, demonstrated phenomenally in Giulio Petroni’s Death Rides A Horse.
This movie follows Van Cleef as a loner who drifts into a town seeking revenge. At the same time, he meets a fellow vengeance-obsessed gunslinger, Bill, chasing the same gang of criminals for different reasons. Though the film’s plot is nothing groundbreaking, the intense visuals and score build the basic story into a volcano of emotional turmoil that erupts in the climactic final gunfight set in the middle of a raging sandstorm.

8. If You Meet Sartana Pray For Your Death (1968)

Poster for the speghetti western If You Meet Sartana... Pray For Your Death

The best Westerns are meditative, using the desolate setting of the lawless American West to explore profound themes of humanity’s inherent evil. However, sometimes it’s just as good to use the setting for an unforgettably bloody action romp, with blazing guns, larger-than-life characters, and over-the-top action. …If You Meet Sartana Pray For Your Death oozes as much campy fun as its title implies. It’s stellar work from director Gianfranco Parolini.
The film tells the story of a corrupt Bounty Hunter named Lasky, who gets swept up in a complicated insurance fraud scheme. Lasky soon finds himself in the crosshairs of the deadly Sartana. Parolini’sfilm makes the most of its runtime with mind-boggling violence, Sartana’s creative use of mechanical gadgets, and a breakneck speed that outpaces anything Sergio Leone has created.

7. Day Of Anger (1967)

Two characters (one of them played by Lee Van Cleef) talking in Day Of Anger

Another Lee Van Cleef vehicle, Tonino Valerii’s Day of Anger marked the actor’s comeback to the genre after a brief hiatus. The film pits Van Cleef as veteran gunslinger Frank Talby, drifting into his latest town with an unmistakable bang. When his activities are noticed by lowly street sweeper Scott Mary, the man races to Talby’s side, looking to make a name for himself as an outlaw by studying under his tutelage.
Day of Anger features a unique master-student dynamic not typical of Westerns, with the relationship between the two men being the emotional crux of the film. Of course, the mentor and trainee eventually raise guns at each other, and the ultimate payoff of Ven Cleef’s 10 rules of gunfighting is a satisfying, yet tragic end to the pair’s tale. Mary’s character arc makes him unusually dynamic for a Spaghetti Western protagonist, earning the film some props with its deliberate writing.

6. The Mercenary (1968)
Westerns with a dose of comedy were prominent at the height of their popularity, the two genres mixing wonderfully. Aiming to do away with the normal stoicism the Spaghetti Western’s characters had become steeped in, Sergio Corbucci’s The Mercenary is an ambitious film with a wide array of influences. The cast sought inspiration from around the world, featuring the titular Polish mercenary teaming up with a Mexican revolutionary against a dangerous American gunfighter.
The Mercenary functions as a prototypical buddy-cop action comedy, the unlikely duo deriving great laughs even in the midst of chaos. For all its comedic leanings, the film also isn’t afraid to venture into the realm of politics, painting a sunnier picture of the Mexican Revolution than an American movie at the time would likely allow. The result is an entertaining flick whose comedy and action offerings serve a greater narrative.

5. The 5-Man Army (1969)

the five man army including Peter Graves

While many Westerns opt to focus on one or two stoic protagonists, some of the genre’s best offerings instead involve a ragtag team of unlikely allies with a common goal. The most famous example of the primordial team-up film is the 1960 classic The Magnificent Seven, heavily based on Akira Kurosawa’s iconic samurai film The Seven Samurai. Don Taylor and Italo Zingarelli’s The 5-Man Army was Italy’s answer to such films.
Another Spaghetti Western utilizing the popular setting of the Mexican Revolution, The 5-Man Army follows an eclectic team of strangers forced to work together when they’re hired by the protagonist, Dutchman, to rob a train carrying gold. Consisting of a strong man, a circus acrobat, an explosives expert, and a samurai, the film feels like a chaotic session of a tabletop role-playing campaign as the diverse team plays off of each other’s strengths to rob the train — and each other — of the gold.

4. The Great Silence (1968)

Silence holds a wanted poster in The Great Silence

For as rigid of a genre as it is, Westerns have been known to tire audiences out with their repeat showings of the same dusty desert towns and hard-talking antiheroes. In the modern era, many Westerns aren’t even set in the Wild West, doing anything they can to transplant the same themes into a fresh setting. Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence is a fantastic early example of a Spaghetti Western that tried something new.
The Great Silence bucks many Western trends, following the story of the aptly-named Silence, a mute gunslinger, as he tries to protect Snow Hill, Utah, from a deranged bounty hunter. True to the town’s name, the setting is shrouded in snow, playing off of the silent but uncharacteristically good-hearted protagonist to create a tale that stands out from its colleagues. The film has a bleak, somber tone not found in many other bombastic installments of the genre, making it a unique and well-crafted offering from Corbucci.

3. They Call Me Trinity (1970)
Releasing in the twilight years of the Western’s dominance, Enzo Barboni’s They Call Me Trinity is a comedic tale of two hapless step-brothers navigating their way through the American West. The titular brother, Trinity, is a lazy outlaw gifted with nigh-supernatural gunslinging ability. Paired with his burly, hardworking half-brother, Bambino, the odd couple dynamic is fully on display in their bullet-hole-filled trek.
The situational comedy of They Call Me Trinity is second to none, as the rambunctious brothers contend with defending a Mormon enclave from bandits for all the wrong reasons. The seedy brothers’ breaking of the Mormon leader’s pacifism provides many laugh-out-loud moments, culminating in Trinity falling in love with two sisters only to wriggle his way out of a marriage at the last second once he’s reminded of the responsibility he’d be claiming. Trinity’s lack of work ethic and dumb charm make him stand out in a genre filled with grizzled fighters like his brother.

2. Django (1966)
Long before Quentin Tarantino’s pulpy Western with a similar name, 1966’s Django shot Franco Nero into stardom at a rate similar to Clint Eastwood. The relatively subdued plot follows the titular loner as he escorts a woman he saved back into a town, in the process getting caught in a conflict between a bloodthirsty gang and a tyrannical army major. Similar to the suitcase in Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Django carries with him a mysterious coffin, the contents of which are left to the imagination for the majority of the film.
While being an unaffected, calm, and collected hero worked great for Clint Eastwood, what sets Nero apart as Django is his thoughtfulness and struggle. Not always in control, Django gets seriously hurt, and is capable of being tender, making him a more likable, unique protagonist for an action-packed Western with a short runtime. That being said, when it’s time to bring out the big guns, Django can still dish out the punishment, finally revealing what his coffin is hiding.

1. Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

The three gunfighters confront Harmonica at the train station in Once Upon A Time In The West.

As one of the great triumphs of the Spaghetti Western, Once Upon a Time in the West evokes greatness and a complete understanding of the genre down to its very title. Though Sergio Leone became famous for the Dollars Trilogy, the critical reception and perfection of his craft that came out of this 1968 film leaves many to consider the project his magnum opus. The film takes place in the desolate town of Flagstone, telling the story of a prostitute who allies with the mysterious drifter, Harmonica, after her husband is murdered, leaving her the heir to a valuable piece of land.
Beyond the scope of being a Western, Once Upon a Time in the West is a truly masterful epic with a sweeping orchestral score to accompany the explosive saga of its dark story. Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, and Henry Fonda all excel in their roles, chewing the bleak scenery of Flagstone with a tacit mastery of their craft. The reveal of the significance of Harmonica’s trademark instrument is among one of the greats in cinema, leaving Once Upon a Time in the West as a giant among not only the Spaghetti Western, but Westernsas a whole, all without the aid of Clint Eastwood.

Clint Eastwood

Mystic River: Why Clint Eastwood’s Best Movie Still Holds Up Today

A filmmaker of Clint Eastwood‘s caliber is going to have a filmography full of gems. Primarily known for his work in Westerns, biopics, and military dramas, every so often, Eastwood steps outside his comfort zone and delivers in a genre that would seem completely unexpected on paper. That happened in 2003 with Mystic River, a neo-noir murder mystery drama that seems a bit forgotten or overlooked, even though it was a financial success and earned six Academy Award nominations. It represents Eastwood at his very best, breathing vivid life into complex characters as he examines a plethora of themes that range from loyalty, friendship, revenge, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Mystic River is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, and it follows the lives of three childhood friends, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), living in Charlestown, Boston in 1975. Dave is kidnapped by two men claiming to be police officers, and he’s sexually abused by them over a four-day period until he escapes. The traumatic event shapes the three friends, and they ultimately lead very different lives twenty-five years later.

Jimmy is an ex-con that now owns a convenience store in the neighborhood, Sean works for the Massachusetts State Police as a detective, and Dave is your everyday blue-collar worker that still lives with the trauma of being abducted and raped. Their lives are forced together once again through tragedy when Jimmy’s daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered, and friendship is tested when all signs point to Dave being the murderer.
Mystic River Is a Departure From Clint Eastwood’s Other Work

Sean Penn held back by cops in Mystic RiverWarner Bros.

Eastwood tackles the material in Mystic River with a sure and confident hand. It also represents a unique departure from some of his other films. Much of the action takes place under the cover of darkness, and Eastwood is able to find beauty in that darkness. The filmmaker focuses on a character’s eyes or the gleam of a weapon, for instance, as darkness permeates most of the scene.

For the scenes that take place during the day, the filmmaker opts for tight close-ups that linger over the emotions of his impressive cast. There is something uncomfortably intimate about Mystic River, and that has much to do with the subject matter. None of this story is particularly easy to digest, and Eastwood adds to that discomfort with his choices to frame scenes in such a way that’s almost intrusive. The audience feels a growing sense of dread and tension as more of the story unfolds.
Using Lehane’s novel and Brian Helgeland’s screenplay as a blueprint, Eastwood profoundly explores generational trauma and how the sins of the past can leave a permanent mark on our present. Even though the abuse only happened to Dave, the effects of the event leave a mark on all three friends, with Dave being the primary victim and the others feeling a sense of survivor’s guilt for not being subjected to it themselves.
The ordeal forever changes their union because they’re never quite able to look at each other the same way again, as each friend deals with the trauma differently. Jimmy is stunned by the act of abuse but can’t give Dave the support he needs, which then bleeds into their present when Jimmy begins to suspect that Dave had something to do with his daughter’s murder. He doesn’t want to consider that his friend would do something like this because of the trauma he endured as a child, but as evidence mounts against him, Jimmy has to decide if friendship and loyalty overshadow his need for vigilante justice. The story is rich with so many complexities that make it some of Eastwood’s most compelling work as a filmmaker.

Eastwood also takes his time with the story and lets it unfold as it should. Mystic River is very nuanced, and he knows he’s dealing with heartbreaking subject matter that requires patience and respect. The story is grounded in so much reality that Eastwood seems keenly aware that a viewer might be an actual victim of this kind of abuse themselves, so he delicately approaches the topic and gives it the emotional weight it deserves.
He also shows the uncomfortable side of abuse where the victim, unfortunately, can be shamed because of the event. Dave becomes an outsider later in his life, even with his close friends, something that sadly comes along with this kind of trauma. Eastwood approaches all of this responsibly and provides a very balanced outlook to all the events transpiring on screen.
Mystic River has become known for its powerhouse performances, and Eastwood pulls the very best from his ensemble cast. While the scenes with the young actors are brief in the beginning, they set the tone of who these people will be twenty-five years later. Dave becomes the outcast because of the event; Jimmy lacks empathy and doesn’t trust authority, while Sean becomes the grounded one of the bunch and a police officer in an attempt to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

Clint Eastwood Pulls Powerhouse Performances From His Cast

Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon do a great job conveying the unspoken tension between all three of these characters. There is a sense of loyalty, but so much has taken place over the years that it has forced them all to lead very different lives. As a group, they are uniformly excellent. You feel the history between the characters and the bonds that were broken, only to be reopened by a new traumatic event.
On their own, Penn gives the performance of a lifetime as Jimmy, and it’s not a shock that this turn finally earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. Penn is a dominant presence in all of his scenes, and there is a sense of uncertainty whenever he’s around because you don’t know exactly what move he will make.

That’s not to say he doesn’t display layers. All of that bravado is broken once he finds out his daughter is murdered. It’s hard to pinpoint a director’s best scene on film, but what Eastwood pulls out of Penn during the “Is that my daughter?” sequence represents some of his very best work as a filmmaker.
Robbins also received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work here, representing a much-deserved win. As Dave, Robbins is the tragic and emotional heart of the story. The viewer feels instant empathy for Dave due to what he went through as a child, but you’re also left questioning everything when it seems like Dave could be the one who murdered Katie.
Robbins keeps you on your toes throughout, making you question his innocence while also seeing the tenderness in him as he interacts with his own child, who is just about the age he was when he was abused. As for Bacon, of the three male leads, he gives the most subdued performance, but it suits the character. He’s trying to make everything right and keep it all together. It’s a subtle performance that carries its own emotional weight.

Eastwood also makes the supporting roles worthy of attention. Marcia Gay Harding, as Dave’s wife Celeste, puts in powerful work here that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, while Laura Linney more than holds her own with Penn as his second wife, Annabeth. In addition, Laurence Fishburne also fills in as Sgt. Whitey Powers in another excellent part.
Mystic River is a haunting and poetic motion picture that showcases a director laying it all out on the table. Eastwood gives the audience everything he has as a director and pours it out across the screen in a film that is just as powerful twenty years after its initial release.

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Clint Eastwood’s Most Iconic Non-Western Role Was Only Possible Because Of This Actor


 Clint Eastwood’s role in Dirty Harry is considered one of his most iconic, and the film is a classic in the crime genre.
 Paul Newman initially turned down the role of Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry but recommended Clint Eastwood for the part.
 Newman declined the role due to his liberal beliefs, and Eastwood’s portrayal of Callahan differed from Newman’s perspective, but both respected each other.


Although Clint Eastwood first built his impressive career on Western movies like The Man with No Name franchise and The Outlaw Josey Wales, the actor’s biggest non-Western role in Dirty Harry is one of his most iconic, and it might have never happened without this one actor. Clint Eastwood began acting in the 1950s, and over several decades, became a staple in the Western genre. What makes Eastwood stand out is the fact that he has not only appeared in countless films, but has also directed them himself. Films like Unforgiven and Gran Torino have defined his career. However, Dirty Harry is by far one of Clint Eastwood’s best films.

In 1971, Clint Eastwood starred in the neo-noir action film Dirty Harry. The film, and its adjoining sequels, follow Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan, a rugged detective that is on a hunt for a psychopathic serial killer named Scorpio. The Dirty Harry franchise lasted from 1971 to 1988, and has since been considered a classic. In fact, Dirty Harry was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress because of its cultural significance. However, this film might have been vastly different if Clint Eastwood had never been in it, and scarily enough, this definitely could have happened back in 1971.
Paul Newman Rejected Dirty Harry Before Suggesting Clint Eastwood For The Role

Dirty Harry 2

Dirty Harry went through many production challenges before it was actually made, and one of those included casting the iconic detective. In the film’s early stages, the role was offered to actors such as John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Steve McQueen, and Burt Lancaster. However, for various reasons, including the violence that permeates the film, these actors all declined. For a time, Frank Sinatra was attached to the project, but he also eventually left the production. In reality, Clint Eastwood wasn’t even in the cards for portraying Dirty Harry, but his big break came when Paul Newman was offered and declined the role.

Paul Newman, like many amazing actors before him, was offered the role of Harry Callahan, but ultimately said no. However, what makes his refusal stand out among the rest is that he recommended another actor that could be perfect for the role: Clint Eastwood. At this time, Eastwood was in post-production for his first film Play Misty for Me, meaning his career was taking something of a turn. Also, unlike his predecessors, Eastwood joined up with Dirty Harry, just as Newman thought he would. Because of his Western roots, the violence and aggression that made up Dirty Harry didn’t bother Eastwood at all.

Why Paul Newman Turned Down Dirty Harry

Paul Newman holding a gun.

Paul Newman turning down the leading role in Dirty Harry may not seem too surprising considering the host of other actors that also declined the movie, but Newman definitely had his reasons. While previous actors had condemned the movie for its incredible violence and themes of “the ends justify the means,” Newman refused to take the role because of his political beliefs. Since Harry Callahan was a renegade cop, intent on catching a serial killer no matter the cost or the rules that would be broken, Newman saw this character as too right-wing for his own liberal beliefs.

Paul Newman was an outspoken liberal during his life. He was open about his beliefs, so much so that he even made it onto Richard Nixon’s enemies list due to his opposition of the Vietnam War. Other issues that Newman spoke out for included gay rights and same-sex marriage, the decrease in production and use of nuclear weapons, and global warming. As a result of his politics, Newman quickly denied the role of Harry Callahan. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly as reported by Far Out Magazine, Clint Eastwood commented that he didn’t view Callahan in the way Newman did, but still respected him as an actor and a man.

Would Dirty Harry Have Been So Successful Without Clint Eastwood?

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan

Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether Dirty Harry would have been successful without Clint Eastwood. Arguably, any big-time actor could have made the film succeed solely based on their fame. However, one aspect of Dirty Harry and its carousel of actors is that the movie had various scripts, all with different plots. So, if Dirty Harry had been in a different location with a different serial killer and a different lead actor, there’s a chance it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. In the end, Dirty Harry is a signature for Clint Eastwood, and most likely, audiences are lucky that it was made the way it was.

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The story of how Clint Eastwood prevented Ron Howard from embarrassment

A star of American cinema both in front of and behind the camera, Ron Howard is often forgotten when recalling the greatest directors of modern cinema, yet his contributions to the art form remain unmatched. Working with the likes of Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and John Wayne, Howard has brought such classics as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Rush to the big screen.
Entering the industry in the late 1950s and 1960s, Howard started his career as an actor, making a name for himself in shows like Just Dennis and The Andy Griffith Show before his role in 1970s Happy Days would catapult him to national acclaim. His directorial debut would come at a similar time, helming 1977’s Grand Theft Auto, the ropey first movie in a filmography that would later become known for its abundance of quality.
Known for his acting talents, Howard wouldn’t become a fully-fledged director in the eyes of the general public until the 1980s, when he worked with Tom Hanks on 1984’s Splash and George Lucas for the 1988 cult favourite Willow.
With hopes of becoming the new Star Wars, Willow was instead a peculiar fantasy tale that told the story of a young farmer who is chosen to undertake the challenge to protect a magical baby from an evil queen. Starring the likes of Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, the film failed to make a considerable dent in pop culture at the time, largely being ridiculed by critics and audiences alike.
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie was spared humiliation by none other than Clint Eastwood, who saw the craftsmanship behind the picture, as described by Ron’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Speaking to Daily Mail, the actor recalled: “My dad made a film called Willow when he was a young filmmaker, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival and people were booing afterwards. It was obviously so painful for him, and Clint, who he didn’t know at that time, stood up and gave him a standing ovation and then everyone else stood up because Clint did”.
Dallas Howard, who worked with Eastwood on the 2010 movie Hereafter, became very fond of Eastwood as a result, looking up to him as an exemplary Hollywood talent. “Clint puts himself out there for people,” she added, “As a director he is very cool, very relaxed, there’s no yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. He just says: ‘You know when you’re ready.’ I told my dad he should do that!”.
Take a look at the trailer for Howard’s 1988 fantasy flick below.

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