The Oasys MiniHollywood Theme Park has been the film set for many of the most iconic Western movies in the history of cinema. Today we’ll look at some of the most famous full-length movies filmed at the facilities in the middle of the Tabernas Desert, the actors who walked the town’s sets, and many other anecdotes.
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A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
The desert of Tabernas was an uninhabited place that went fairly unnoticed until the famous Italian film director Sergio Leone discovered this corner of Almería in the 1960s. He decided it was the perfect place to film his next Western, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), which was the first in his famous Dollars Trilogy.
Almería offered ideal scenery for recreating the Wild West and much cheaper locations than in Hollywood. The director himself ordered the Old West town to be built in this area, which until then was called Poblado del Fraile, or Fraile Town, after its owner Alfredo Fraile.
A Fistful of Dollars was the film that made actor Clint Eastwood into a movie star. He played the Man with no Name, a gunslinger who works for two rival gangs fighting for power in San Miguel. His antihero role stands in contrast to the Hollywood Westerns that had been made up until then, which portrayed the stereotypical hero of the West.
For a Few Dollars More (1965)
For a Few Dollars More, the second movie in the Dollars Trilogy, was filmed on these sets one year later. This time, the actors Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volonté returned to Almería and actor Lee Van Cleef joined the cast of the film. In this movie, two men joins forces to capture the “Indio,” a gunman with a big reward out for his capture.
By this time, spaghetti Westerns had become a true subgenre of quality movies with famous actors. The main difference with the Hollywood Westerns is that they were directed by Italian directors and had smaller budgets. They were also more oriented towards action rather than dialog and painted the Old West as a savage, hostile place where violence was ever-present.
This is why in the beginning Hollywood called these movies spaghetti Westerns, with a derogatory connotation, although their later success forced them to take their words back.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
To many, this is the best movie by Sergio Leone. The final movie in the Dollars Trilogy takes place during the American Civil War. Three opposing bounty hunters—Clint Eastwood (The Good), Eli Wallach (The Bad), and Lee Van Cleef (The [CC1] Ugly)-try to find treasure, but they can’t do it without the help of the others.
The success of these memorable movies made Almería into the top film set for spaghetti Westerns. Since then, numerous feature-length movies were filmed there, bringing excitement to the residents of Almería, as many of them participated as extras.
Ace High (1968)
Another of the most famous Western movies filmed at Oasys MiniHollywood was Ace High, starring such mythical actors as Bud Spencer, Terence Hill, and Eli Wallach. This is the second part of the Giuseppe Colizzi’s God Forgives… I Don’t! trilogy. The story takes place in El Paso, where Cat and Hutch arrive to turn in the loot from a robbery and get their reward. However, Cacopoulos, a man sentenced to death, is saved from the noose in exchange for finishing off these newcomers.
Ben and Charlie (1972)
This classic spaghetti Western tells the misfortunes of two rogues who join forces to rob banks. The story has moments of comedy, which became typical in all films of this genre following the premier of They Call Me Trinity in 1970. The movie had the participation of Giuliano Gemma and Marisa Mell, two veteran actresses in these European Westerns.
It Can Be Done Amigo (1972)
Another of the many Western movies filmed in Almería was It Can Be Done Amigo, an Italian-Spanish coproduction. Again, the film is about chases and revenge and stars Bud Spencer. The character named Coburn has a secret relationship with Mary, the sister of a gunslinger named Sonny. When he finds out, he wants to force Coburn to marry his sister so they can live honorably. However, Coburn flees and Sonny chases after him.
A Reason to Live, a Reason to Die (1973)
This movie about the American West, directed by Tonino Valerii, is set during the War of Independence. The Union army loses Fort Holman and the soldiers accuse Colonel Pembroke—played by James Coburn—of treason. To restore his honor, the colonel plans a suicide mission in which he convinces some prisoners who are sentenced to death to storm the fort, which is now in Confederate hands, under the pretext that it hides a hidden treasure.
The Man Called Noon (1973)
The Man Called Noon is another European Western, this time directed by the British director Peter Collinson. It’s about a gunman who, because of a bullet to the head, has lost his memory, except for how to use his revolver. He’ll try to discover who wanted to kill him and plot his revenge. The story is inspired by the novel by American writer Louis L’Amour.
After the mid-70s, spaghetti Westerns started to decline and the genre came to an end once the decade was out. In spite of it all, they continue to make movies set in the Far West and Oasys MiniHollywood continues to be a set for filming feature-length movies as well as a wide variety of commercials and video clips.
These are some of the most notable Western movies in Almería that were filmed in what is today the Oasys MiniHollywood Theme Park. If you want to know more about Almería’s spaghetti Westerns and feel like a true cowboy, come visit us in the Tabernas Desert!