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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Fistful of Dollars (1964): The original spaghetti western

In the 60's, and the early 70's, Spaghetti Westerns, shot with young or ageing US leads along with Spanish / Italian stars, and using an Italian / Spanish cast caught on, and continued till the early 70's, when people started getting tired of this line of films. Two of the people who were most closely associated with these types of movies were the director, Sergei Leone, and the young upcoming star, Clint Eastwood. Clint Eastwood came to be famous for a trilogy of movies called the "The Dollars Trilogy" or "The Man With No Name Trilogy" - primarily because Clint was not given a screen name in these movies, and this was in effect used as a promotion point for these movies. A Fistful of Dollars was the movie that started this trend, and was the first movie in the trilogy, with the others being For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Most of these movies were shot in Spain, in regions that resembled the dry, wasteland like region of the American Southwest. Another great highlight of the movie was the music by Ennio Morricone.

The Spaghetti Western culture had a touch of irony to it, since the original role was offered to Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson, but both of them refused, and a few others, after which Clint Eastwood was signed on. With the success of the genre, both of them starred in a later movie of his, Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
A Fistful of Dollars is the story of a man arriving at a small town on the Mexican Border called San Miguel, and how he gets involved in the huge rivalry in the town between 2 families who want to establish their dominance in the town. These 2 families are;
- The Rojo brothers, Don Miguel, Esteban, and Ramón.
- The other family is that of the sheriff John Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy)
The Man with No Name arrives in the town, and sees a chance to make some money ('a fistful of dollars') in this rivalry between them, but gets involved in a different way, by rescuing the captive of Ramon, Ramon's mistress (Marisol).
The Rojos catch Clint Eastwood and torture him for this effrontery, but he manages to get free with the help of the coffin maker. In their search for him, the Rojos finally get up on the Baxters by burning down their home and killing them all. Now that they are the one strong family in the town, the stranger returns to a final fight, and finally kills them all, and then moves out before the authorities make their presence felt.

A fistful of Dollars (1964), released in the United States in 1967, and starring Clint Eastwood, directed by Sergei Leone

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