A Fist­ful of Dol­lars

The Guardian - G2 - - Re­view Film -

★★★★★ Dir Sergio Leone Star­ring Clint East­wood, Gian Maria Volontè, Marianne Koch Length 96 mins Cert 15

Two fist­fuls in fact: two $500 pay­ments – a gi­gan­tic amount – which The Man With No Name ac­cepts ca­su­ally from ei­ther side of a bloody feud in the sun­baked Mex­i­can town of San Miguel. He has blown in like a strange force of na­ture, with a coolly amoral plan to use their mu­tual hate to his own gun­sling­ing ad­van­tage. Strid­ing to­wards a gun­fight, he tells the cof­fin-maker in ad­vance how many to knock up. This is the 1964 movie, now on rere­lease, which cre­ated the rev­o­lu­tion­ary genre of the spaghetti west­ern. It’s an Ital­ian co­pro­duc­tion shot in Spain and di­rected with in­spi­ra­tional pulp pas­sion by Sergio Leone, draw­ing on Kuro­sawa. And it made a star and a le­gend out of Clint East­wood. Be­fore this, he had been young Rowdy Yates on TV’s Rawhide, an open-faced boy with a pleas­ant singing voice. In this movie he sud­denly, ter­ri­fy­ingly grew up: hat, pon­cho, griz­zly beard, short cigar and eyes per­pet­u­ally screwed up, as if star­ing into the sun or sup­press­ing a gri­mace of in­cred­u­lous dis­gust. The other fig­ure that be­came a le­gend here was the com­poser En­nio Mor­ri­cone, for the ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­si­cal score he de­vised for this film, with its whip-poor-will whistling cries, whipcracks, bells and eerie per­cus­sive shouts.

A Fist­ful of Dol­lars has a cult, comic­book in­ten­sity. It is the punk rock of westerns. PB

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