A Spaghetti Western Festival at Film Forum? I am SO in. I started with THE BIG GUNDOWN, which I had never seen, and that contains the memorable line: “In America being quick on the draw is more important than precise shooting,” and am looking forward to hour after hour of sweaty gunmen, ambiguous heroes, some of the best film music ever written, memorable agons, sadistic cackling, gorgeous scenery, and a welcome antidote to the particularly mindless form of “American exceptionalism” that is metastasizing through the body politic. Easily parodied, to be sure, this is a great and ironically stirring genre, one that exposes the vulgarity that underlies the more naive of our national myths, yet which also, in some strange way, celebrates them. The superficial markers that make it easy to laugh at the genre – the melodramatic finales, the bad dubbing, the improbable body counts, the corny swagger and machismo – invite us to dig deeper, and deeper again.

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