Duck, You Sucker


2h 30m 1972

Brief Synopsis

An Irish rebel and a Mexican bandit get mixed up in the Mexican revolution.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Fistful of Dynamite, Down With Your Head, Giù la testa, Johnny and Johnny, Once Upon a Time, the Revolution
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Western
Release Date
1972

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 30m

Synopsis

In 1913, during the Mexican Revolution, peasant Juan Miranda flags down a palatial stagecoach to beg for a ride. After roughing up Juan, the perverse driver ushers him into the coach where his presence shocks the patrician passengers. Regarding him as an ignorant peasant, the passengers condescendingly ask him how many bastards he has fathered, then pontificate about peasants being just like animals. As the coach approaches a village, a group of boys shove stones under the wheels, forcing it to stop. After releasing the horses and shooting the drivers, the boys poke their heads into the coach, where Juan greets them as his sons. Once Juan has raped a priggish woman passenger and his sons have stripped the passengers of their clothes and sent them careening down a hill in a wobbly cart that crashes into a pigsty, Juan and his sons hear a detonation in the distance. As they go to investigate, Irishman Sean Mallory passes them on his motorbike. When he refuses to stop, Juan shoots out one of the tires, and in retaliation, Sean tosses an explosive into the coach, blowing a hole in the roof. Furious, Juan points his gun at Sean, after which Sean reveals that his coat is lined with dynamite and he is carrying a bottle of nitroglycerin powerful enough to blow Juan and his family to bits if he drops it. Impressed by Sean's knowledge of explosives, Juan immediately suggests that they team up to rob the Mesa Verde Bank. Sean refuses, saying that he has been hired by some Germans to locate veins of silver buried in the hills. When he tries to ride off, however, Juan shoots holes in the motorbike's tires and gas tank; in retaliation, Sean blows up the coach and walks off. Juan and his sons then rifle through the belongings that Sean has left behind and discover that he is wanted in Ireland for his activities with the IRA. That night, Juan cunningly forces Sean to accede to his plan by framing him for the murder of some soldiers who died in an explosion, thus making him a wanted man in Mexico, too. As they ride to Mesa Verde, however, Sean jumps onto a passing train, thus eluding Juan. Later, after Juan and his sons board a train headed for Mesa Verde, a military officer recognizes Juan and is about to arrest him when a stranger on the train pulls his gun on the officer, after which Juan throws the lawman off the train. Upon reaching Mesa Verde, Juan finds the streets are patrolled by troops loyal to the governor, who has decreed martial law and ordered that anyone who resists will be lined up before a firing squad. Juan discovers that Sean has come to Mesa Verde, too, and has decided that the public unrest would provide an excellent distraction for a bank robbery. Sean then takes Juan to a hidden room at the back of the café in which Dr. Villega, the stranger from the train and one of Pancho Villa's revolutionary leaders, is meeting with a group of rebels. Villega explains that Villa and fellow revolutionary Emiliano Zapata are planning a siege of the town, and that to provide a distraction, Villega and the rebels are to attack four targets, among them the bank, which has been assigned to Sean and Juan. At noon the next day, Juan's youngest son walks past the bank pulling a toy train loaded with dynamite, which he leaves behind. As the soldiers guarding the bank run to quell the insurrection, Sean detonates the explosives, blowing open the bank's front door. When Juan and Sean run into the bank, however, they discover that the vaults are stuffed only with political prisoners. Afterward, Sean admits that he knew the money had been sent out of town a month ago and chuckles that Juan is now a hero of the revolution, which is born out when the jubilant crowd sweeps Juan onto its shoulders. Sean, Villega, Juan and the others then ride up into the hills where they are to rally with Villa and his troops to confront a column of soldiers and armored tanks being led by the ruthless Col. Gunther Ruiz. As they wait, Juan expresses his contempt for revolutions, which he feels accomplish nothing, and asserts that his family is the only country he knows. Soon after, word comes that Villa has been delayed and has ordered the rebels to retreat. Sean stubbornly refuses to obey, however, and sets up a Gatling gun on a ridge overlooking the road on which the troops will be advancing. Deciding to stay with Sean, Juan orders his sons to take cover in the hills. After Juan's sons and the rebels depart, Juan and Sean train their Gatling gim on the oncoming column of soldiers, creating havoc and forcing them to retreat. Sean then detonates the bridge spanning the road, cutting off the soldiers' advance. Afterward, Juan learns that his sons have been massacred in the cave in which they were hiding, and vowing revenge, walks off alone. As Sean stays behind in the cave to survey the carnage, he hears the soldiers shouting in the distance about capturing Juan. Later, in Mesa Verde, Sean hides in the shadows as he watches Ruiz force Villega, who has been captured and tortured, to identify the townsfolk who participated in the revolt. Some time later, as Juan is positioned in front of a wall in the fort to be shot, Sean roars in on his motorcycle, tosses some explosives at the firing line and rides off with Juan. Taking refuge in the cattle car of a train headed for the United States, Juan and Sean peek out of the slatted sides of the car and witness a group of revolutionaries being executed. Despairing, Juan begins to cry and Sean tries to cheer him up with tales of the riches and freedom they will find in America. At the last minute, the governor, fleeing Villa's oncoming troops, boards the train, which is then attacked by the revolutionaries. After the governor runs into the baggage car seeking refuge, Juan trains a gun on him. The governor tries to bribe Juan with a bagful of jewels and money, but when the governor tries to escape, Juan shoots him in the back, and is once more hailed as a hero. The rebels then join Juan and Sean in the baggage car. Among them is Villega, whose betrayal is only known to Sean. When a message arrives from Villa notifying them that a military train carrying troops headed by Ruiz is heading toward them and asking them to stall the train for twenty-four hours, Sean decides to blow it up and commandeers a locomotive and Villega to accomplish the job. Rigging the dynamite to the front of the locomotive, Villega and Sean stoke the engines and steam toward the troop train. Villega assumes that Sean is punishing him for his betrayal, but as the locomotive nears its target, Sean jumps out and urges Villega to do the same, but Villega decides to stay and face certain death instead. After the locomotive collides with the troop train and detonates, the rebels open fire on the remaining soldiers. Returning fire, Ruiz shoots Sean, after which a vengeful Juan guns the general down with his Gatling gun. Juan pulls the gravely wounded Sean to safety and tells him he is going to get help. Before Juan leaves, Sean asks him to light a cigarette for him, then hands Juan the cross pendant he had ripped from his neck when his sons were murdered. After Juan departs, Sean uses the cigarette to ignite the remaining dynamite, annihilating the rest of Ruiz's men. Regarding the fireball marking Sean's demise, Juan asks "what about me?"

Film Details

Also Known As
A Fistful of Dynamite, Down With Your Head, Giù la testa, Johnny and Johnny, Once Upon a Time, the Revolution
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Western
Release Date
1972

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 30m

Articles

A Fistful of Dynamite (Duck, You Sucker) - A Fistful of Dynamite (aka Duck, You Sucker)


During the Mexican Revolution (1913-1914), Juan, a peasant turned outlaw, forms an unlikely alliance with Sean Mallory, an expatriate IRA terrorist and dynamite expert. Together the duo plots to rob a bank but in the process, Juan becomes an unwitting participant in Sean's political agenda. Through a series of comic misadventures, Juan becomes a local folk hero but he also incurs the wrath of the Federal Army who take revenge on his family and village.

A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) is known by many titles; in Italy it was titled Once Upon a Time the Revolution and when it was first released in the U.S., it bore the title Duck, You Sucker. Producer/director Sergio Leone originally offered the project to Peter Bogdanovich and then to Sam Peckinpah. The latter accepted the assignment but then the financial backers insisted on a less problematic director. Leone, who only wanted to produce, gave the film to his assistant Giancarlo Santi. As for the casting, Leone wanted Jason Robards, Jr. to play Juan and Malcolm McDowell as Sean. Once again the studio wanted more established stars so Leone hired Rod Steiger and James Coburn though it meant deviating from his original premise of an older man becoming politicized by a younger one. Ironically, Coburn had originally been approached to play the 'Man With No Name' in Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964) but turned it down, paving the way for Clint Eastwood's international success.

Once production began on A Fistful of Dynamite, Steiger and Coburn insisted on being directed by Leone and not Santi, explaining that they had agreed to do the film with the understanding that Leone was directing it. The director later commented that Steiger "thought of the film as very serious and intellectual and had a tendency to come off in the style of Pancho Villa. Once he understood his mistake, everything went very well. Coburn, that's something else. With him, it's the star system: you explain the scene to him, he says "yes, sir" and off he goes and does it."

A Fistful of Dynamite is permeated with the political disillusionment of the sixties and its numerous depictions of human slaughter reflect the same sense of futility that marked America's involvement in Viet Nam. At the same time, the film often veers off into sequences of broad comedy creating an unusual Western hybrid that swings from high tragedy to low humor. With the added complication of a title change and some severe cuts in the English language version (the Italian release was twenty minutes longer), A Fistful of Dynamite failed to reach a wide audience. Yet fans of spaghetti Westerns will find much to enjoy here, from Steiger's flamboyant performance to the spectacular action sequences to Ennio Morricone's haunting score - the 'Sean' theme is guaranteed to stick with you for days. And critics continue to champion the film for its unorthodox depiction of opposing ideologies - revolutionary (Sean) versus anti-revolutionary (Juan) - with no easy answers for either side.

Producer: Claudio Mancini (associate producer), Fulvio Morsella, Ugo Tucci (associate producer)
Director: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Sergio Leone (also story), Sergio Donati (also story), Luciano Vincenzoni
Art Direction: Andrea Crisanti
Cinematography: Giuseppe Ruzzolini
Costume Design: Franco Carretti
Film Editing: Nino Baragli
Original Music: Ennio Morricone
Cast: Rod Steiger (Juan Miranda), James Coburn (John Mallory), Romolo Valli (Dr. Villega), Maria Monti (Adolita), Rik Battaglia (Santerna), David Warbeck (Sean's IRA friend).
C-138m. Letterboxed.

by Jeff Stafford
A Fistful Of Dynamite (Duck, You Sucker) - A Fistful Of Dynamite (Aka Duck, You Sucker)

A Fistful of Dynamite (Duck, You Sucker) - A Fistful of Dynamite (aka Duck, You Sucker)

During the Mexican Revolution (1913-1914), Juan, a peasant turned outlaw, forms an unlikely alliance with Sean Mallory, an expatriate IRA terrorist and dynamite expert. Together the duo plots to rob a bank but in the process, Juan becomes an unwitting participant in Sean's political agenda. Through a series of comic misadventures, Juan becomes a local folk hero but he also incurs the wrath of the Federal Army who take revenge on his family and village. A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) is known by many titles; in Italy it was titled Once Upon a Time the Revolution and when it was first released in the U.S., it bore the title Duck, You Sucker. Producer/director Sergio Leone originally offered the project to Peter Bogdanovich and then to Sam Peckinpah. The latter accepted the assignment but then the financial backers insisted on a less problematic director. Leone, who only wanted to produce, gave the film to his assistant Giancarlo Santi. As for the casting, Leone wanted Jason Robards, Jr. to play Juan and Malcolm McDowell as Sean. Once again the studio wanted more established stars so Leone hired Rod Steiger and James Coburn though it meant deviating from his original premise of an older man becoming politicized by a younger one. Ironically, Coburn had originally been approached to play the 'Man With No Name' in Leone's A Fistful of Dollars (1964) but turned it down, paving the way for Clint Eastwood's international success. Once production began on A Fistful of Dynamite, Steiger and Coburn insisted on being directed by Leone and not Santi, explaining that they had agreed to do the film with the understanding that Leone was directing it. The director later commented that Steiger "thought of the film as very serious and intellectual and had a tendency to come off in the style of Pancho Villa. Once he understood his mistake, everything went very well. Coburn, that's something else. With him, it's the star system: you explain the scene to him, he says "yes, sir" and off he goes and does it." A Fistful of Dynamite is permeated with the political disillusionment of the sixties and its numerous depictions of human slaughter reflect the same sense of futility that marked America's involvement in Viet Nam. At the same time, the film often veers off into sequences of broad comedy creating an unusual Western hybrid that swings from high tragedy to low humor. With the added complication of a title change and some severe cuts in the English language version (the Italian release was twenty minutes longer), A Fistful of Dynamite failed to reach a wide audience. Yet fans of spaghetti Westerns will find much to enjoy here, from Steiger's flamboyant performance to the spectacular action sequences to Ennio Morricone's haunting score - the 'Sean' theme is guaranteed to stick with you for days. And critics continue to champion the film for its unorthodox depiction of opposing ideologies - revolutionary (Sean) versus anti-revolutionary (Juan) - with no easy answers for either side. Producer: Claudio Mancini (associate producer), Fulvio Morsella, Ugo Tucci (associate producer) Director: Sergio Leone Screenplay: Sergio Leone (also story), Sergio Donati (also story), Luciano Vincenzoni Art Direction: Andrea Crisanti Cinematography: Giuseppe Ruzzolini Costume Design: Franco Carretti Film Editing: Nino Baragli Original Music: Ennio Morricone Cast: Rod Steiger (Juan Miranda), James Coburn (John Mallory), Romolo Valli (Dr. Villega), Maria Monti (Adolita), Rik Battaglia (Santerna), David Warbeck (Sean's IRA friend). C-138m. Letterboxed. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The Italian release title of the film was Giù la testa, which is loosely translated into English as Down with Your Head. According to a modern source, the film's original English-language title, Once Upon a Time, the Revolution was changed because it was too much like the English-language title of the 1964 Bernardo Bertolucci Prima della rivoluzione, which was released in the U.S. as Before the Revolution (see entry above). Johnny and Johnny was another working title of the film. Some video releases of the film were entitled A Fistful of Dynamite, a title that harkens back to the English-language release title of Sergio Leone's 1967 film Per un pugno di dollari (A Fistful of Dollars, ).
       In the original release, "Juan Miranda" (Rod Steiger) screams out the name "Johnny" as his friend "Sean Mallory" (James Coburn) dies in an explosion. Although the running time of the American release was 137-139 minutes, Filmfacts noted that its original running time was 150 minutes. The print viewed, a 2007 DVD restoration of the original Italian version of the film, had a running time of 157 minutes, which contained the end sequence in which Steiger, as Juan, turns to the audience and exclaims in voice-over "what about me?," an ending that was not in some of the other releases. In response to that question, the title Duck, You Sucker appears superimposed over a closeup of Steiger's face. In another scene deleted from the original release, Sean tosses into the mud a book he is reading written by nihilist philosopher Mikhael Bakunin after Juan expresses his contempt for revolutions. The scene in which Juan is captured by the soldiers is also missing in several of the shorter versions of the film.
       The film opens with the following written quote from Mao Tse-Tung: "The revolution is not a social dinner, a literary event, a drawing or an embroidery; it cannot be done with elegance and courtesy. The revolution is an act of violence." The Mexican revolutionary part of the story is interspersed with flashbacks relating "Sean Mallory's" involvement with the IRA in Ireland. Many of these flashbacks parallel actions occurring in the film's present. For example, in the scene in which "Dr. Villega" realizes that Sean knows he betrayed the rebels, Sean flashes back to a scene in an Irish bar in which Sean's friend and fellow IRA member betrays his colleagues, motivating Sean to shoot him. Sean then tells Villega that he is not judging him, because he judged someone once and will not do it again.
       Rafran Cinematografica was owned by director Sergio Leone. An October 8, 1968 Daily Variety news item noted that Charles Bronson, who appeared in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, was slated to star. According to news items appearing in Daily Variety and Variety in October 1969, Rafran was producing the film for United Artists, which had a financial stake in the project. The news items added that Leone was looking for an American to direct the film, which was to star Jason Robards as Sean. According to a November 26, 1969 Variety news item, Leone signed Peter Bogdanovich to direct the film, which was then to star Eli Wallach as Juan. A modern source states that the character of Juan was written especially for Wallach, but the backers wanted a more famous actor who would draw a larger audience, so hired Rod Steiger instead. According to a June 1970 Variety news item, after creative differences with Leone led to the departure of Bogdanovich, assistant director Giancarlo Santi, who had previously collaborated with Leone, was slated to direct until Steiger refused to appear in the film unless it was directed by Leone. According to a modern source, after Santi was relieved of his directorial duties, he took over extensive second-unit work. Filmfacts noted that location scenes were filmed in Almeria, Spain, and an undated news item in Hollywood Reporter added that the Irish scenes were filmed on location in Dublin, Ireland. Modern sources add Luis Morris, Aldo Sambrell, Conrado San Martín and Sergio Calderón to the cast.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States January 1990

Shown at United States Film Festival Park City, Utah January 22 & 24, 1990.

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States January 1990 (Shown at United States Film Festival Park City, Utah January 22 & 24, 1990.)