A mysterious man, known only by the name of Joe (Clint Eastwood), rides into a hostile town, divided by a violent and bloody war between two families – the Baxters and the Rojos. Despite being warned that most that enter the town either flee in fear or die for their troubles, Joe decides to stay and work out a way in which he can play the two feuding families against each other, for his own personal and financial gain. A classic American western that many regard as one of Eastwood’s finest.
Director: Sergio Leone
Writers: Sergio Leone, Adriano Bolzoni, Victor Andres Catena
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Marianne Koch, Gian Maria Volonte, Wolfgang Lukschy
When it comes to throwback western movies, there are three that stick in my mind as being some of the most recognisable of all time. They are of course, the three that make up the Dollars trilogy, directed by Sergio Leone and spearheaded on-screen by Clint Eastwood. It’s worth noting that reviews for “For a Few Dollars More (1965)” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)”, have also been published, but for now, let’s crack on with A Fistful of Dollars.
The story and plot for this one seemed to be as straightforward as you’re going to get when it comes to two feuding families, but something that stuck in my mind as being a standout feature of the flick was the beautiful cinematography on display from start to finish. As a film supposedly based near to the Mexican border, it surprised me somewhat to realise that the movie was actually filmed on location in Europe, primarily in the Spanish countryside. With that being said, the filmmakers still managed to portray an authentic Latin feel throughout, with the two regions being so similar in culture.
Another noteworthy aspect of the movie was the way in which the filmmakers demonstrated some of the rather diverse action sequences on display. Some were in the trademark western “blink and you’ll miss it” fashion, while others were longer in nature, yet just as impactful. There was also an effective build up to the explosive finale, which like many westerns, seemed to entice drama at its finest.
In regard to the cast and characters involved, one thing that really struck me was the way in which Clint Eastwood’s personality was scripted and consequently played out. His character, Joe, wasn’t your typical white knight that was there to save the day, using all of the correct and legal methods, instead, he seemed to be more interested in his own wealth and fortune, thus not particularly adhering to any morale principles. Elsewhere, Marianne Koch and Gian Maria Volonte starred as Marisol and Ramon, respectively
Overall, if you’re able to handle classic American western films, being shot and filmed without sound and dubbed over at a later date, I’d recommend A Fistful of Dollars. This was an enjoyable viewing experience and managed to set viewers up nicely for the second in the trilogy, “For a Few Dollars More”, before focusing on the third of the trilogy, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly“.
“Get three coffins ready…”Joe – A Fistful of Dollars