According to veteran Spaghetti Western actor Aldo Sambrell, the phrase ‘Spaghetti Western’ was coined by Spanish journalist Alfonso Sánchez. Italo-Western is also used, especially in Germany. These movies were originally released in Italian, but as most of the films featured multilingual casts and sound was post-synched, most “western all’italiana” do not have an official dominant language. Over six hundred European Westerns were made between 1960 and 1978.
Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars established the Spaghetti Western as a novel kind of Western. In this seminal film, the hero enters a town that is ruled by two outlaw gangs, and ordinary social relations are non-existent. He betrays and plays the gangs against one another in order to make money. Italian cinema often borrowed from other films without regard for infringement, and Leone famously borrowed the plot for A Fistful of Dollars, receiving a letter from Japanese director Akira Kurosawa congratulating him on making “a very fine film.