Find the list here: The Top 250 Films List Total Films Watched: 250/250

Sunday, 3 March 2013

#225 - 'A Fistful of Dollars' (1964)

"I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it." - Joe.
'A Fistful of Dollars' is the first film in Sergio Leone's 'Man with No Name' trilogy. Clint Eastwood portrays the aforementioned man, although he was referred to as Joe throughout. Typical of the man he is, I assume he gives a different name in each town he wanders into, hence the nickname. Upon arriving in this town, 'Joe' discovers it is riddled with gang warfare between the Rojos and the Baxters. The only man making profit in the town is the undertaker. 'Joe' steps in and manages to play the two gangs off against each other, showing no loyalty to either and pocketing a large amount of money for his services. But, will 'Joe' be able to get away with it?
Clint Eastwood as the Man with Joe Name.
The cinematography is fantastic and captures the feel of the film. Shots like the screenshot above showing 'Joe' standing alone in the town emphasise his solitude and independence. In contrast, the scenes where 'Joe' confronts the gang members there is a wide shot where he looks completely outnumbered by no less than five assailants. Needless to say this doesn't faze him. Several sweeping shots of the town add to the drama of the action as well as close-ups of Eastwood's face speak a thousand words with one glare.
One against five.
Ennio Morricone's soundtrack makes the film for me. The main theme is instantly recognisable and pretty much goes about defining the entire Spaghetti Western genre. The other two parts of the trilogy are also on this list, helpfully in order of release, so I'm sure I'll be saying very similar things about their soundtracks when it comes to them. My favourite part of the film was simple, funny and shows how little 'Joe' cares about taking human lives. Before heading over to some gang members for a chat, he says "Get three coffins ready" to the over-worked undertaker. After his chat and some expert shooting-from-the-hip, he casually walks back past the undertaker and nonchalantly mutters: "My mistake. Four coffins..." 
My mistake...
The Western genre is another I know little about, other than having seen a few scenes from of 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' and 'High Noon' and analysing them relentlessly during Media Studies at school. I liked 'A Fistful of Dollars', even if it was a bit slow in parts, and I look forward to completing the trilogy further along in this challenge.

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