Sergio Leone Web Board

Films of Sergio Leone => Duck, You Sucker => Topic started by: Mystic_And_Severe on July 24, 2007, 11:45:50 PM

Title: A fistful of dynamite review.
Post by: Mystic_And_Severe on July 24, 2007, 11:45:50 PM
The film opens with a close up of the lower part of a tree trunk on which ants are crawling feverishly. They are sent flying and drenched in piss as an unseen urinator lets them have it. As we pan up the legs, just in time to see hands fumbling to close the fly, we see a sweaty peasant in a black hat, his stubbled and bearded face a picture of irreverence and bravado. By the time this same face looks distraught into the camera at the end of the film, its owner will have been tested in the fires of fear, bathed in an uneasy friendship, battled for his life and lost some of the only things he cared about in the world.

On the way, he will have met a very different man; one who doesn't shout, doesn't shrink from danger, carries a demon or two and looks a hundred times better and healthier. Opposites, yet fate (and the writers) had them thrown together in revolutionary Mexico.

Sergio Leone will rest in peace, now that this under valued film of his is finally restored and re-released as originally intended. There have been truncated versions (with various titles, including Once Upon A Time ... The Revolution, after Once Upon A Time in the West three years before it). John Kirk, who is devoting his career to restoring MGM/UA titles, finds this film the most personally satisfying, now that it being rediscovered and reappraised.

It has its flaws, though. There are a couple of jumps in the story that seem as though a scene is still missing, including one in which Juan and his band watch a train speed past and then notice that John (watching from the other side of the track) has jumped on board. The next scene is Juan and his band on board the train. A similar jump occurs a little later, but is not as jarring.

And if you don't know, you won't care that John Mallory' character is historically inaccurate. He is meant to be an IRA killer on the run from British police (for crimes we see in romantic flashbacks - romantic both in nature and treatment); but the IRA was not yet formed at the time of the Maxican Revolution. However, this does offer confirmation that Sergio Leone was pushing a political barrow in the film. The opening titles are followed by a Marx quote about revolution; plus there are several opportunities to talk about Revolution (capital R) in the film where the poor and oppressed are portrayed as jolly good revolutionaries. In an early scene showing Juan and his modus operandi as a stagecoach bandit, Leone has a series of extreme close ups of the well to do privileged (and a priest) stuffing food into their faces in front of the evidently hungry (though pot bellied) Juan.

So it is arguable that Leone used the IRA (probably unaware of its exact history) as the breeding ground for John Mallory for good political reasons: here was a revolutionary group bucking its rulers - just like in Mexico. He shows John's crime but he sidesteps the moral issues, concentrating on the one sided emotional picture he wants to paint about John. Today, he would never get away with such a terrorist character without being horse whipped by public opinion. Especially if he made him as sympathetic as he makes Mallory.

But, perhaps because the film appeared in a butchered form and was quickly written off, the issue never surfaced.

Today, the film retains its extraordinary power, driven in large part by the two central performances. And not just the performances, but the macho chemistry between the broiling temperament of Steiger's Juan and the cucumber cool of Coburn. Violent, lyrical, engaging and driven by one of Ennio Morricone's most exceptional, unpredictable scores, A Fistful of Dynamite has all the wallop of a large stick of TNT.

Title: Re: A fistful of dynamite review.
Post by: tucumcari bound on July 25, 2007, 11:48:57 AM
Great review Mystic_And_Severe! I enjoyed that. Welcome to the Forum's also! :)

Title: Re: A fistful of dynamite review.
Post by: Whalestoe on July 25, 2007, 02:08:59 PM

Title: Re: A fistful of dynamite review.
Post by: tucumcari bound on July 25, 2007, 02:42:20 PM
Wow, I guess I take away my thoughts on my previous post then. Yup, this is a troll.