Our pal James Reasoner, a fine writer of westerns and crime fiction, has a nice blog named Rough Edges. In a recent post, he reviews an indie film, Shoot First and Pray You Live. This is apparently based on a Frederick Faust/Max Brand novel serialized in 1919 in Argosy, Luck, which later was published in book form as Riders of the Silences. One of the comments to James' post notes that Brand gets no credit for the story -- which really isn't surprising, as the novel's 1919 publication date puts it in the public domain.
James notes that the film is very faithful to Brand's novel, even though the title sounds like it came from a spaghetti western, and "it made me realize for the first time that what Faust was doing, decades before the genre was even invented, was writing the literary equivalent of Spaghetti Westerns."
Makes sense. I've said somewhere or to someone before that Brand's westerns are true horse operas -- bigger than life, played on a large stage. And Faust loved that kind of storytelling, as his biographies point out his love of Shakespeare and The Faerie Queene. He lived in the home of the spaghetti western for years in a villa -- it really makes sense that perhaps with The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Sergio Leone was simply putting on film the sort of story that Faust had been hammering out for popular consumption decades earlier.