Movie Club: A Fistful Of Dollars

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Jul 8, 2017.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week, we're starting another trilogy of sorts, Clint Eastwood's "Dollars" westerns. We're beginning with A Fistful Of Dollars.

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one).

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    It's difficult to talk about Hollywood and not mention Clint Eastwood. The man has been in showbiz for over 6 decades. His name is almost synonymous with Westerns, as is John Wayne's. I've always enjoyed his movies, especially his Westerns, even though he doesn't have that great a range as an actor.

    I believe that "A Fistful of Dollars" (AFOD) was an unofficial remake of the Japanese movie "Yojimbo", and the makers were even sued by the Japanese and won the case. I love everything about the character of Joe, his looks, his reticence, his squinting eyes, his mini cigars, his poncho and his hat, all of which went on to become iconic. He was probably one of the earliest example of an anti-hero. He really is looking only to make a profit. He might do a few good deeds here and there, help an odd man or woman out, but he isn't the selfless hero who would sacrifice himself for others. I find that refreshing and more realistic. If you think about about, Joe is the one responsible for the Baxter family massacre. One could argue that it was inevitable, but Joe certainly accelerated it.

    Ramon is a great villain, played perfectly by Gian Maria Volonte. He is evil personified. His gruff voice and evil laugh are enough to cement his vicious personality. It is sometimes a bit annoying to see the out-of-sync dubbing of many characters. But that is natural as most of the cast spoke in their native tongue and their dialogues were dubbed over in English during post-production for the American release.

    Ennio Morricone's music is as big a star in this movie as Eastwood. The theme music in each of the Dollars movie has now become iconic. His style and instrumentations were aped by numerous other composers, albeit unsuccessfully. Sergio Leone, the director, knew the strength of Morricone's music and often let entire scenes be steered by the music alone. No dialogue, no sound effects, sometimes no acting even. This is something that Lucas (and Spielberg) understood as well of John Williams' score, which is why today everyone can recognize the various themes from their movies but you don't hear people humming anything from "Star Wars" The Force Awakens".

    I guess Joe can be credited as being the first man to invent the Bulletproof vest. ;) Of course, @Liam and @Mark M should remember the climax from this scene very well as it was used in "Back to the Future 2". Marty then goes on to use that same trick in Part 3 where he adopts the name "Clint Eastwood", which clearly doesn't sound so tough to the "real Westerners". :D
    LiamABC and Mark M like this.
  3. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @Wilycub this would be a perfect time for you to watch the Gummibears episode ''For A Few Sovereigns More''. :D
    Wilycub likes this.
  4. Wilycub

    Wilycub Staff Writer and Artist Staff

    I just watched it right now. Flint Shrubwood!!! LOL! :laugh Actually it would be best to watch it after we watch the second movie "For A Few Dollars More" in which Clint's character is a bounty hunter like Shrubwood, though not as resourceful! ;)
    Mark M likes this.
  5. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    I've just watched this movie. Here are my thoughts:

    This is not just some western, this is the epitome of westerns. This is everything you think of when you hear the word "western".

    Agreed on Joe not really having any real conscience. From the get-go, he's clear that he's out for a profit. Come the halfway point, it looked like he might be developing a conscience, when he rescued that family, but no. He didn't have a problem with the massacre of the Baxters afterwards. And the showdown with the Rojos is more about self-preservation than anything else.

    As far as I can tell, there's only four people still alive in that village at the end of the movie - Joe, the saloon-keeper, the undertaker and the bell-ringer. The entire population of San Miguel got exterminated in the process, save the family who escaped across the border. There's no warmth to the ending. This by 1960s mainstream Hollywood standards was "gritty".

    Yes, the bulletproof vest sequence was recognisable to any Back To The Future fan, and very well done, we see Joe selecting a metal and hammering out his protective clothing. It probably was more of a "wow" moment to the audiences back in 1964, and I envy them for that. Mind you, the recognition of the BTTF fan made for the only bit of warmth associated with the ending.

    Wilycub, your talk of Clint Eastwood's acting style being limited is interesting - because I recognised something from the only film of his I have on DVD, "Where Eagles Dare", in this. Despite the two films being completely different in genre and tone, there is something in common with Eastwood's performance in both. Each contain one or more scenes where his character speaks just a single word, a toneless "hello" before filling the opposition full of lead. Incidentally, it is "Where Eagles Dare" that is Eastwood's highest on-screen body count, probably on account of his having a machine gun in his hands rather than a mere pistol.

    Not that there was anything mere about that pistol at the end of this movie. The line about pistol v rifle was very well done, you knew when Ramon first said it that they were going to face each other with those same weapons at the end and Ramon would be proved wrong.

    Agreed too on the music. It's everything you think of when you think of the music in westerns. That said, it's not "the famous bits" - I'm guessing that the famous bits of Morricone's score come from the later installments, probably "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly". That's just a guess at the moment of course. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

    Overall, well, westerns aren't my specialist area, I'm no expert on them by any means. The only other westerns I had ever seen prior to this were because of other factors.

    I watched "Gunfight At The OK Corral" because of the Star Trek episode "Spectre Of The Gun" - and coincidentally, DeForest Kelley (aka Dr McCoy) appears in this movie!
    I have the DVD of "Breakheart Pass" because it's one of the better movie versions of an Alistair MacLean novel. Not as good as "The Guns Of Navarone" or "Where Eagles Dare", but a decent enough film. This is, curiously, the only novel MacLean wrote that was not set either during WW2 or the (at the time of writing) present day.

    Like I said, westerns aren't my specialty, but this was pretty good. I'll take a look at the next two in the series, no problem.
    Mark M and Wilycub like this.
  6. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    @Wilycub and @LiamABC have pretty much summed up everything about the movie. :D
    It's been several years since I last seen this movie.
    What a great western.
    The music and cinematography and directing are just amazing.
    Clint Eastwood is great as the iconic gunslinger.
    It's hard to pick a favourite scene but the end showdown was great.
    This isn't my favourite of the trilogy or of Eastwood's westerns but I think that just shows how wonderful some f the other movies are. :D

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