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The term Spaghetti western originated as a slang expression for the Italian-made westerns that came to prominence during the early and mid-1960s and filled a gap left by the American movie industry at the end of the 1950s Hollywood had produced thousands of westerns during the first half of the 20th century establishing both a genre and an audience Most Hollywood westerns were B-pictures low-budget genre films produced to fill out the bottom-half of double features But the films that stand out today are the bigger-scale more serious A-westerns such as Stagecoach 1939 High Noon 1952 Shane 1953 Red River 1948 and The Big Country 1958 The development of television after World War II spelled the end of the B-western which moved to television in the form of weekly cowboy series The aging of such master directors of the genre as John Ford and Howard Hawks coupled with the decline of the studio system ultimately doomed the A-western as well John Waynes films still made money during the 1960s and a few American productions such as John Sturges The Magnificent Seven 1960 based on Akira Kurosawas 1954 The Seven Samurai successfully integrated well-defined characters driving action sequences and relatively big-name casts Yul Brynner was then a major star Nevertheless the western was in general decline by 1960 The western audience however hadnt disappeared There remained millions of people throughout America and Europe who were hungry for good action films involving horses guns and violence Overseas producers recognized this and as early as 1961 there were horse operas being made in Italy Germany and other central European countries The films that emerged were very different from the romantic western visions embodied in the work of John Wayne and John Ford In place of frontier moralizing or cowboy vs Indian battles they played off of grittier -- and in many ways more accurate -- conflicts These European-produced westerns were filled with seemingly mindless gratuitous violence which made
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