Among some of the greatest westerns is A Fistful of Dollars, the first film release in the “Dollars Trilogy,” famous for Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. While Clint Eastwood became a superstar when these films arrived in America, fans seems to underestimate the excellence of this film.
Fistful of Dollars opens with Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” riding into a seemingly deserted Mexican town to find two rival factions: one running booze, The Rojos, and the other running guns, The Baxters. Soon, the mysterious man confronts the men who laughed and shot at him queuing up the tone of the film: “My mistake, four coffins.”
Ennio Morricone’s score joins “Joe” (the name of Eastwood’s bounty hunter) as he pits the two factions against one another, cashing in big along the way. The Stranger witnesses the Rojos massacre a detachment of Mexican soldiers who were escorting a chest of gold and his focus shifts. In the end, shootouts and horse fill the screen as all eyes zoom in on Eastwood’s expression and heroics.
From Dirty Harry to Gran Torino, Eastwood made a career on playing a tough, gritty hero, who exudes charisma and authority. The Stranger showcases the best Clint moments in a genre which Leone reshaped and transformed.
That all began with A Fistful of Dollars.
Critics hated on Leone’s films, as well as Spaghetti Westerns as a whole. These films were a contrasting look at the genre to John Wayne films, full of more realism – a dark and violent old west.
Eastwood shines in Fistful, so it’s no surprise to watch his “Man With No Name,” become an iconic character in Hollywood film history and elevate the Rawhide actor to award-winning career.
A Fistful of Dollars starred an international cast and filmed mostly in Spain. Sadly, the film was “ripoff” of a Japanese film, Yojimbo, and Leone was ultimately sued. This legal action pressed Leone to become more creative and inventive, giving alternate interpretations of the outlaws and gunslingers than the John Wayne fanfare seen in America.
One impressive, somewhat forgotten element is inspiration on the Indiana Jones character, the ultimate fallible hero. Eastwood’s sacrifice in the film, saving a family, getting beaten and literally crawling away at one point to later rise up and win – it should be easy to see why fans love this film and franchise so much.