Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

Once while perusing the IMDB top 250 list I noticed a movie called il buono, il brutto, il cattivo very near the top. Number four, in fact. I learned that this movie is in fact The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966). Of course I'm familiar with the Eastwood spaghetti western, but I never cared for the genre. I knew it was popular with those who liked them, but forth best movie all time? Sounds like a stretch.

Doing a little research, I learned that it was the third in a trilogy. First came A Fistful of Dollars, then A Few Dollars More. Few Dollars more lands at 123 on IMDB's list while Fistful just misses it. I had seen part of a couple Eastwood westerns, and I got a hankering. I picked up Fistful from the library. Let's see what the hullabaloo is all about.

It is the story of a man with no name, named Joe. He wanders into a small Mexican town we presume he once lived in. He discovers that two families, The Baxters and the Rojos, are vying for control of the weapons trade. Joe decides to put himself in the middle and play them off of each other.

Eastwood plays a few clever games to outsmart both families, each time getting paid. There's a woman who is held captive by a Rojo brother that we know 'oll Clint will simply have to rescue. There's also this gold. Well, Clint/Joe/No Name does such a great job that everyone lives happily ever after and there is no come-uppance. That's right, none at all. Not even when the Rojos find out that Joey has been playing them for patsies and beats the living crap out of him. Or the town and the townspeople. All hunky-dory.

This movie made Clint Eastwood's career. The role was first offered to James Coburn, then Charles Bronson, then Richard Harrison, then Eric Fleming, then our man Clint. Henry Fonda and Steve Reeves were also thought for the roll. It was released in Italy in 1964 and became a big hit. It wasn't released in America until 1967. The story was stolen from the Japanese Samurai movie Yojimbo (1961).

Liked it, didn't love it. Certainly glad I watched it but I'm unsure if I'll watch it again. The audio track was a little iffy, what with half the characters speaking in Italian and being dubbed into English. Few Dollars More will end up on my list eventually, but I'm in no hurry. AMRU 3.5.

No comments:

Post a Comment