While going through adding movies to my Netflix queue and Hulu watchlist I came across A Fistful of Dollars, which I saw was expiring soon. Since I am a huge fan of westerns and I have only seen the final entry of Sergio Leone’s Dollars or The Man with No Name trilogy, it was about time I rectified that. Being a big fan of Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone, and Enio Morricone … it is surprising that it took so long. Was it worth the wait?
I would give it 5 “homemade bullet proof vest”s out of 10.
FOR THE UNINITIATED
A gunfighter comes across a town that exists off a family selling guns and a family selling booze. After playing the families off each other for some easy money he discovers a mysterious woman being held captive. It boils down whether he can free the girl, fill his pockets, and escape before dying.
Director: Sergio Leone
Writers: Adriano Balzoni, Victor Andrés Catena, and Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, and Gian Maria Volonté
Clint Eastwood can chew a cigarillo, squint under his hat, and shoot a pistol like no other. He can play an antihero that seems more moral than most protagonists are nowadays. The villains are despicable, which casts Eastwood in a much better light. The longer the movie goes on, more detestable acts are carried out by the Rojos and it makes it that much easier to wait for their comeuppance. Everything moves along at a steady pace, so it doesn’t get bogged down in unnecessary story or character growth … which is a plus.
Getting past the age of the film can be tough. The guns with near unlimited bullets, explosive barrels, and heros with perfect aim is a tired trope. Sure these films were shot on miniscule budgets, but it shows when there isn’t much of a story or distraction. Maybe I have grown too accustomed to better acting, higher budgets, or better effects … but this is definitely a case of not aging well.
A Fistful of Dollars is the first of Leone’s trilogy and it shows. While I have now seen the first and third, I can only assume the second is better since The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly was worlds better. That isn’t too say it is unwatchable since it has its moments. If you’re a completionist or fancy yourself a decent western, give it a whirl. Otherwise, stick with the better iterations of the genre.
An easy pick would be another spaghetti western or Clint Eastwood movie, but I will go with another slightly less traditional choice: Quigley Down Under. It is one of the movies I latched onto as a kid and watched repeatedly, so when the Rojos brother has the line from A Fistful of Dollars: “When a man with .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol’s a dead man” … I automatically knew what my recommendation would be. Throughout the entire movie, Alan Rickman’s character touts his desire for a quickdraw and his training … which leads to a dramatic showdown with Tom Selleck’s character who is known for using rifle. It isn’t the best western, but it has its charm and is worth checking out.