A Fistful of Dollars – 3.50 stars

The first of Sergio Leone’s “Spaghetti Western” trilogy with Clint Eastwood’s “Man with no Name”, A Fistful of Dollars was actually shot in Spain. I guess “Paella Western” wasn’t an option.

Eastwood comes to a town at war. Two families seek the upper hand, and Eastwood shuttles between one and the other for the cash.

The picture sports the tell-tale Ennio Morricone score, featured in the opening credits:

As fun as it can be, the movie is a bit stilted. Leone’s visuals are ambitious but his sweep is not yet broad, and like Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No, Eastwood is still working on his persona and lacks gravitas (interestingly, Eastwood was Leone’s eight or ninth choice, behind Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and others). The entire cast, Eastwood excluded, is foreign and the dubbing is spotty (in the case of a crying child, I was immediately reminded of the dubbing in the Japanese animated series, Speed Racer).

This film ends up being a critical warm-up to the better For a Few Dollars More and its classic follow-up, The Good, the Bad and The Ugly.

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