Fistful of Dollars
Review by Lyle
= Highest Rating
was a risky move. Sergio Leone had the task of directing the
first so-called spaghetti western in cinema history. Primarily,
the word western was synonymous with John Wayne. This
was all about to change. The origin of "spaghetti
western"? They're cowboy movies, typically set in the southwestern
part of the U.S. or Mexico during the late 1800s, but actually
produced and filmed in Italy or its nearby countries (e.g.,
Spain or Yugoslavia). Later the term spaghetti western
came into vogue when describing a collection of such films.
A Fistful of Dollars, the first,
made a star out of Clint Eastwood and launched Sergio Leone
into the public eye. The score by Ennio Morricone is timeless;
although it doesn't live up to the music in The
Good, the Bad, & the Ugly it still provides that powerful,
violent emotion you'd come to expect from the spaghetti western
sub-genre. The score will definitely send chills up your spine
in certain scenes.
Clint Eastwood doesn't play your typical
Good Guy. In fact, the character he portrays ("The Man
With No Name"), can actually be considered an anti-hero.
This is said to be the reason Eastwood decided to take the role,
because he wasn't tied down to a one-dimensional character.
He was interested in playing an atypical western hero and he
succeeded in doing so. As
the anonymous and deadly gunslinger, he rides into a town torn
by war between two power factions, the Baxters and
the Rojos. Instead of fleeing or dying as most others would
do, the Man schemes to play the two sides off each other, getting
rich in the bargain.
Many say Fistful is a remake
of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, but
Leone adds his own special blend of grittiness and style that
makes the simple story his own. He combined elements which became
the template for all spaghetti westerns, elements which
fans have since come to expect from these films. Many consider
Leone and Kurosawa the masters of widescreen so I can understand
where this comparison comes from. Kurosawa actually sued Leone
for breach of copyright and the initial release of the film
was delayed. In A Fistful of Dollars
Leone uses the widescreen canvas so well it gives the film added
depth and substance.
Fistful of Dollars
is an excellent film and a must-own for any western fan. Although
I prefer The Good, the Bad, & the
Ugly and For a Few Dollars
a topnotch film that should be in everyone's collection.
of A Fistful of Dollars is affordable
(retailing as low as $8.99) and sports a good transfer, especially
if you take the film's age into consideration. There is noticeable
damage to the print but nothing really major. The widescreen transfer
is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and has been
mastered with a Dolby Digital 1.0 audio mix. It sounds good, but
leaves something to be desired. Not many extras here, just a booklet
which has some interesting factoids about the film —
and a theatrical trailer. The disc itself is double-sided, with
one side offering the widescreen version and the other containing
the fullscreen version. Take a look at this film in fullscreen
before you watch the widescreen version... it will make you appreciate
how good Leone's films look in their proper AR, and just how terrible
they fare when butchered for Pan & Scan.
it's a great film and a good disc, and for the asking price, certainly
worth picking up. 6/10/03
A deluxe 2-disc Collector's Edition — completely restored and
resmastered, with bonus supplements — was released in June 2007
as part of the Sergio Leone Anthology
box set. A Blu-ray edition was issued in 2011.