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A Fistful of Dollars

(Per un pugno di dollari)
Italy/Spain/West Germany 1964. Director: Sergio Leone
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch, Pepe Calvo, Wolfgang Lukschy

The worldwide craze for Westerns all’italiana started here. A Fistful of Dollars, a flamboyant (and unofficial) remake of Akira Kurosawa’s swords-and-samurai spectacular Yojimbo, was Sergio Leone’s first Spaghetti Western, and the film that created the iconic Clint Eastwood persona. Eastwood, as the mysterious Man with No Name, is the laconic, poncho-clad, cigar-smoking lone gunman who rides into a Mexican border town embroiled in a nasty feud between two rival clans. Seeing an opportunity to profit, he hires himself out as a mercenary — first to one side, then the other. All the elements of Leone’s eccentric, highly influential style — the extreme close-ups, brutal violence, sun-bleached widescreen compositions, eerie Ennio Morricone score — are very much in evidence. The movie reinvented the American Western and its mythology, even if it may have plundered Yojimbo to do so. (Kurosawa’s producers sued for plagiarism, and won; Leone countered that the premise also derives from Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century play The Servant of Two Masters.) Leone and Eastwood reunited for two very successful sequels, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, both also screening in our Spaghetti Unchained series. Future director Eastwood would dedicate Unforgiven, his 1992 Oscar winner, to Leone. Colour, 35mm, 99 mins.

TRAILER

REVIEWS

"From Clint Eastwood's iconic performance to Ennio Morricone's unforgettable (and much-parodied) musical score, A Fistful of Dollars took the western down trails it had never explored."

Minneapolis Star Tribune | full review

"Decisive in both Clint Eastwood's career and the recognition of the Italian western."

New York Times | full review