A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (PER UN PUGNO DI DOLLARI) (1964)

   Clint Eastwood, Ennio Morricone (music), Sergio Leone (director)
   This was, for practical purposes, the original spaghetti Western, released in Italy in 1964 and in the United States in 1967 as the first part of the Dollars Trilogy. The plot is based closely on Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo(1961). Ennio Morricone’s haunting score integrated music with plot and theme in ways never done before in Westerns.
   An unshaven Man with No Name (Eastwood) rides into a border town on a mule, wearing a serape and a wide, flat-brimmed hat, clinching a cigarillo in his teeth. Townspeople jeer at him. Soon he finds himself in the middle of a feud between the Baxters and the Rojos. The film is characterized by elaborate, interminable shifting stares among adversaries, and even among family and friends, and by one-sided duels in which no one besides the hero gets off a round. In the film’s central scene, Eastwood’s character rescues Marisol (Marianne Koch) by killing six men with five shots. Later, after he finally kills six Rojos with a loaded Colt.45, he releases the bound innkeeper with a miraculous seventh shot.
   The town of San Miguel, in its stark bareness, serves almost as an allegorical cityscape of death. The landscape and the cityscape seem to represent dryness, sterility, and death—with absolutely no redeeming features. In the last scene, Eastwood’s character emerges from a cloud of dust to face the Rojos in a final confrontation. In the end, Leone completely rejects the classic Westernconcept of regeneration through violenceas the Man with No Name rides away from the town after eliminating the Rojos without having made the town better off. He has not saved the town in the way Will Kane saves his town in High Noon (1952).

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

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