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Per un Pugno di Dollari

A Fistful of Dollars
Für eine Handvoll Dollar

Italy/West Germany/Spain 1964
produced by
Jolly Film, Constantin Film, Ocean Film
directed by Sergio Leone (as Bob Robertson)
starring Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté (as John Wells), Antonio Prieto, Sieghardt Rupp, Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy, Margarita Lozano, Bruno Carotenuto, Josef Egger, José Calvo, Mario Brega, Daniel Martin, Aldo Sambrell, Raf Baldassarre, Fredy Arco
screenplay by Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari, Victor Andrés Catena, Jaime Comas Gil, Fernando Di Leo, based on the film Yojimbo by Akira Kurosawa, music by Ennio Morricone (as Dan Savio), cinematography by Massimo Dallamano (as Jack Dalmers)

Dollar-trilogy

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When a stranger without a name (Clint Eastwood) hits a little town in the prarie, & sees it divided between its constantly warring 2 rich families - the Roccos & the Baxters - he sees a perfect opportunity to make a quick buck or two from both the clans.

So, to get employ from the Roccos, he shoots for of the Baxters' henchies. The Roccos are of course thrilled about this, but when Ramon Rocco (Gian Maria Volonté) announces to form a truce with the Baxters, the Stranger sees himself superfluous, takes his hat & leaves ... or pretends to do so, as he knows Ramon & gang have just held up a gold shipment from the Mexican army, which is too good an opportunity to let pass by without stirring up muchos commotion.

First he gets a couple of (dead) soldiers that were guarding the gold & places them on the local cemetary, then he tells both the Baxters & the Roccos where to find them (carefully forgetting to mention that they are dead of course), & while both families & their henchies soon head for the cemetary - the Baxters to get witnessses against the Roccos, the Roccos to get rid of the witnesses -, the Stranger looks for the stolen gold, but is caught by Marisol (Marianne Koch), Ramon's mistress, & has to knock her out & bring her to the Baxters, to keep her from talking.

The Roccos meanwhile have shot the dead soldiers (again) & even taken one of the Baxters - Antonio (Bruno Carutenuto), son of Old Man Baxter (Wolfgang Lukschy) & Consuela (Margarita Lozano) - hostage, so an exchange of hostages is soon taking place ... which is when the Stranger learns that Ramon has actually taken Marisol from her husband & her son (Fredy Arco), which  encourages him to do a good deed for a change, as he frees Marisol & sends her away with her family, but makes it look as if the Baxters had stolen her.

Ramon however is too clever to fall for that scheme, & he soon has the Stranger captured & brutally tortured. Only when already badly injured does the Stranger manage to escape his prison, & when the Roccos search the whole town for him, he manages to hide under the boardwalk & later slip away in a coffin ... Furiously the Roccos set fire to the Baxters' home & slaughter every last one of them.

In an abandoned mine, the Stranger contemplates his next moves, his priority being how to escape Ramon's deadly Winchester - until he has the decisive idea & builds himself a steele-body armour strong enough to take several bullets to the heart ...

& when he hears his only friend in town, the innkeeper Silvanito (José Calvo) has been taken prisoner by Ramon & his henchies, he enters town for the final duel ... & manages to catch Ramon surprise with his armour & ultimately defeat & kill him ...

 

By the early 1960's, the American produced Western was pretty much dead, as the production of B-(or series-)Western was discontinued, the macho-attitude of heroes like John Wayne seemed by then to be terribly out of place, & the genre was in dire need of a new, a different approach to be kickstarted again.

In Europe however, the Western-genre rose to new heights in the early 60's, especially thanks to the Winnetou-Westerns - produced by German company Rialto -, which were essentially fairy tales transplanted into the American West, but which - thanks to careful production & direction - hit the nerve of the time.

At this time, many other producers from all over Europe wanted to jump onto the bandwagon with similar but inferior films. Among these films was Per un Pugno di Dollari, which initially was thought as little more than a quickly made cashcow for its producers. Director Leone however had the good sense not to blindly ape the then prevalent fairy-tale formula, but he looked to Japan for source material & in consequence used Akira Kurosawa's successful samurai epic Yojimbo as a blueprint (he would of course later deny having copied the film, even though in large parts of the story & even some scenes it's painfully obvious).

Soon, Leone's film - itself a remake - became the standard blueprint for all future Italian Westerns (soon to be called Spaghetti Westerns).

Even though Leone's film is a rather blatant copy though, one can't deny that he is not a mere copycat director, but incorporated Kurosawa's directorial visions into his own, & what's more, understood to develop his own style from this, which was already obvious here , & would continue to run through all of his future films (which puts him rather in contrast to other, mostly American, copycat directors like say Steven Spielberg or George Lucas, who never waste a single thought to go beyond the images they have just copied).

The film - & the Western genre in general - would greatly profit from this new approach, combined with the novel Sergio Leone-soundtrack & the newborn anit-hero in the person of Clint Eastwood (whose later world career was solely based on this movie - which he did because he didn't get anything decent in America - & its 2 [semi-]sequels Per Qualque Dollari in Piu & Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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