A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars ★★★★

A Fistful of Dollars' low budget can be seen in its worse-than-usual dub and ridiculous day-for-night, but it made stars out of Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, and Ennio Morricone. Rightly so. Leone manages to create a Wild West that is at once iconic and unique, using giant close-ups, violent action, and stark Spanish locations. Morricone's whistling score is the first of several that would become synonymous with the western. And Eastwood's poncho-wearing "Man with No Name" cuts a distinct figure and an ambiguous personality. In the first of a loose trilogy, he is a sort of trickster who plays two criminal factions against one another to make money, but also free a family enslaved by evil men. He's both selfish and altruistic, a con man and a gunfighter, a Coyote god and an arrogant man whose hubris will get him into trouble. There's something mythic about the story and the way it plays out, with strong action beats we haven't seen a hundred times. It's like Leone doesn't really know how thing are normally done, so his take remains fresh to this day.

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