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Films of Sergio Leone => A Fistful of Dollars => Topic started by: titoli on February 12, 2016, 04:52:31 PM

Title: The Bowsley Crowther's review
Post by: titoli on February 12, 2016, 04:52:31 PM
Published: February 2, 1967

COWBOY camp of an order that no one has dared in American films since, gosh. Gary Cooper's "The Virginian" (which is prototypical) is flung on the screen with shameless candor in the European-made, English-dubbed, Mexican-localized Western, "A Fistful of Dollars," which opened in some 75 theaters in this area yesterday.

Just about every Western cliche that went with the old formula of the cool and mysterious gunslinger who blows into an evil frontier town and takes on the wicked, greedy varmints, knocking them off one by one, is in this egregiously synthetic but engrossingly morbid, violent film, put together as an Italian-German-Spanish co-production and shot for the most part in Spain.

There's this fellow who comes out of nowhere, laconic and steely-eyed, looking for business as a killer and fantastically swift on the draw. There are these families, the Baxters and the Rojos, locked in an ineffectual feud over who will control the smuggling business that centers in this Mexican town. There's the timid cantina proprietor, the coffin-maker waiting for clients — everything except the customary moral redemption and the naughty woman with the heart of gold.

It is notable that the lanky gringo who rides into San Miguel and virtually depopulates the area before he rides out again is in no way devoted to justice or aiding the good against the bad. He is an icy and cynical gunman whose only interest is what's in it for him.

Swiftly, he scan the situation. "There's money to be made in a place like this," he informs the cantina proprietor, and therewith sets about making it.

His first piece of business is to gun down four Baxters, just to show that he runs an efficient operation and clue the Rojos into hiring him. But the span of his secret activities soon includes both sides, playing them one against the other and collecting fees and bounties from each. Finally, after he has touched off a community holocaust and destroyed the last of his employers, he casually rides out of town.

Clearly, the magnet of this picture, which has been a phenomenal success in Italy and other parts of Europe, is this cool-cat bandit who is played by Clint Eastwood, an American cowboy actor who used to do the role of rowdy in the "Rawhide" series on TV. Wearing a Mexican poncho, gnawing a stub of cheroot and peering intently from under a slouch hat pulled low over his eyes, he is simply another fabrication of a personality, half cowboy and half gangster, going through the ritualistic postures and exercises of each.

His distinction is that he succeeds in being ruthless without seeming cruel, fascinating without being realistic. He is a morbid, amusing, campy fraud.

The other distinction of the picture is that it is full of spectacular violences. Sergio Leone, who directed from a script which we understand is a rewrite of the script of "Yojimbo," a Japanese samurai picture made by Akira Kurosawa with Toshiro Mifune, has crowded it with such juicy splashes as a big fat fellow being squashed by a rolling barrel, a whole squad of soldiers being massacred, and punctured men spitting gore.

Ultimately, the cool, non-hero is beaten to a bloody, swollen pulp, from which he miraculously recovers to go forth and kill his tormentors.

Filmed in hard, somber color and paced to a musical score that betrays tricks and themes that sound derivative (remember "Ghost Riders in the Sky"?). "A Fistful of Dollars" is a Western that its sanguine distributors suggest may be loosing a new non-hero on us—a new James Bond. God forbid!
Title: Re: The Bowsley Crowther's review
Post by: cigar joe on February 13, 2016, 03:32:32 PM
thanks  O0
Title: Re: The Bowsley Crowther's review
Post by: titoli on February 13, 2016, 05:34:37 PM
thanks  O0

Title: Re: The Bowsley Crowther's review
Post by: Ckmen on March 09, 2016, 01:22:33 AM
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