A Fistful of Dollars (1964) 4.43/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 78.2
Genre: Western
Duration: 99 mins
Director: Sergio Leone
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch

“You see my mule don’t like people laughin’. He gets the crazy idea that they’re laughin’ at him.” A Fistful of Dollars counts as the biggest breath of fresh air to ever blow through a film genre. At the time, the western had been dominant for so long and so many were carbon copies of each other that there had been a sense of overload. Sergio Leone’s film was nothing like these forerunners. For a starters, it was more of a western-noir in that it focused on the darker characters of the wild west and served up a hero that whilst good in the relative sense was out for his own gain. On top of that, Leone’s use of wide close-ups, deep staging, the piercing sound of gunfire, and Ennio Morricone’s audacious score gave the film a defining sense of masculine grace. This first outing as the man with no name was closely based on Kurosawa’s masterpiece Yojimbo (which was itself inspired by John Ford’s westerns), and replaces the wandering samurai with the wandering gun-slinger who happens upon a small town run by two warring families and quickly begins to play both sides against the middle. Eastwood is electric as the quietly dangerous stranger and over the course of the film, he single-handedly defined the modern Hollywood hero and created an icon as he did so. Morricone’s score was completely unique for its time and good as this one is, he was to outdo it three more times in the western genre. Leone’s direction is utterly sublime and at the time, it was the most exciting thing the world had ever seen on screen. So impressive in fact, that it not only became the seed for the next generation of film-makers but it’s continuing to influence each new generation as it it emerges.

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