Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Spaghetti western a stone's throw from Barcelona

Cinecitta News

“Goodbye Ringo” is dedicated to the director Giorgio Capitani, who passed away two years ago, whose last evocative images of him run after the end credits, who, after giving the charge to an old and noisy super 8 camera, look with an ironic smile at the machine. Goodbye Ringo by Pere Marzo, a documentary on the golden age of the spaghetti westerns filmed in Spain and the closing event of the Spanish Film Festival of Rome, was presented on Wednesday May 8, at 9.30 pm, at the Farnese cinema. Following was a meeting moderated by Marco Giusti with the author of the film and the directors Enzo G. Castellari and Romolo Guerrieri.

Awarded at Sitges 2018 for Best Documentary, “Goodbye Ringo” - produced by Exit Media with the associated production of Istituto Luce Cinecittà - uses the narrative voice of the director Enzo G. Castellari - pseudonym of Enzo Girolami, also author of spaghetti western, but also of police and other genre films, of the materials of the Luce Historical Archive and of numerous testimonies of people who have personally experienced the evolution and explosion of the genre.

It is the story of a glorious era for that genre Italian cinema, which had made Spain its exceptional location. It all began in 1964 when “Pistoleros de Arizona” ($5,000 on the Ace) was filmed in Esplugas City, an old Western village built 10 kilometers from Barcelona by the Balcázar brothers. The first of a series of spaghetti westerns made, in co-production between Italy and Spain, using a rich set of facades of numerous buildings but also of interiors of saloons, banks, church of the Mexican side.

In that dusty and sunny scenario, more than 60 western titles found their ideal setting from 1964 to 1972, the Italian directors who chose that location from Tinto Brass (“Yankee”, 1966) to Duccio Tessari (“The Return of Ringo”, 1965), to Giorgio Capitani who, like George Holloway, made his first western there, Everyone for himself – “Los profesionales del oro” (The Ruthless Four) (1968), "a psychological western, which was not distributed in Italy". The producer Maurizio Amati explains how at the time it was extremely convenient to shoot in Spain given the low costs, one third of the Italian ones, of hotels and crews for a final product that had a vast international market.

Romolo Guerrieri, pseudonym of Romolo Girolami, shot there “7 Magnificent pistols” (1966), "a western with a smile", and then “Johnny Yuma”, coming up against the little warm welcome from the daily 'l'Unità' of which Guerrieri reads a poisonous slating. There are two Spanish testimonies, that of the director of photography Paco Marín who remembers on that set, so much exploited by the co-productions, his apprenticeship made by the movement of heavy cameras and the loading of the film. Alberto Gadea, a stuntman at the time and today at the helm of a school of stuntmen, remembers how the end of Esplugas City indelibly marked the life of a community that lived off the work of these studios. A happy period that the neighborhood and the community of the area still remembered with a huge party.

After the golden age of Spaghetti westerns, the fascist regime of Generalissimo Franco believed that the presence of Esplugas City, now fallen into disuse, offered tourism a degraded image of Spain. The Balcázar brothers decided to raze the entire structure with explosive charges and the destruction planned with the relative fire was recorded by three cameras. Images that were used in the final sequence of the last film made in Esplugas City, “I bandoleros della dodicesima ora” (Now They Call Him Sacramento) (1972). Thus the project, despite all the permits, failed to turn this village into a theme park.

No comments:

Post a Comment