A Fistful of Dollars


1h 36m 1967
A Fistful of Dollars

Brief Synopsis

A mysterious stranger plays dueling families against each other in a Mexican border town.

Film Details

Also Known As
Für eine Handvoll Dollars, Per un pugno di dollari, Por un puñado de dolares
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Western
Period
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 18 Jan 1967
Production Company
Constantin Film; Jolly Film; Ocean Film
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

During the lawless days that followed the death of Juarez, a lone American cowboy rides into the border town of San Miguel. He learns from the saloon proprietor, Silvanito, that the town is ruled by two rival, warring clans, the Rojos and the Baxters, both of whom have amassed fortunes by dealing in contraband whiskey and rifles. Quickly sensing the opportunity to make some money, the stranger picks a fight with four of the Baxters, shoots them, and then offers his high-priced services to the Rojos. Secretly and artfully he proceeds to intensify the disputes between the two families, constantly switching his allegiance as the bloody feud gains in intensity. He even arranges for Ramon Rojo's prisoner, the beautiful Marisol, to escape and be reunited with her husband and child. But this last act drives Ramon to a frenzy, and he has the stranger brutally tortured and maimed. Aided by Silvanito, the stranger escapes to an abandoned mine. Ramon, believing that the Baxters are harboring the fugitive, sets fire to their home and kills them all. For months the stranger nurses his wounds and perfects his shooting until he is ready for the final showdown. On that day he faces Ramon and the remaining Rojos, and he outdraws all of them. Then, hard-eyed and enigmatic, he rides out of San Miguel on a mule.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Für eine Handvoll Dollars, Per un pugno di dollari, Por un puñado de dolares
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Western
Period
Release Date
Jan 1967
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 18 Jan 1967
Production Company
Constantin Film; Jolly Film; Ocean Film
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

A Fistful of Dollars


The Western genre was in dire need of a revival in the early sixties and even John Wayne in the lead was no guarantee that the film could draw a large audience anymore. Ironically, it was Italy, not America, that revitalized the Western with the release of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), Sergio Leone's reworking of the samurai classic, Yojimbo (1961), by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (The latter's most famous film - The Seven Samurai (1954) - was also transformed into a Western, The Magnificent Seven starring Yul Brynner). Although most critics at the time attacked it for its excessive violence, the film's influence on the genre cannot be dismissed for Leone's vision of the Wild West was harsh, unromantized and devoid of honorable men, unlike the Westerns of John Ford. It was a place where survival was a daily challenge and a man's ability to cheat death was the only thing that mattered.

Leone's cynical view of the frontier was emphasized by his often startling compositions that cut between extreme facial close-ups, stark landscapes, and sudden explosions of violence. No less effective was the unconventional music score by Ennio Morricone which mixed electric guitars with choruses of grunts, groans, and human cries. And, of course, A Fistful of Dollars is primarily famous for launching Clint Eastwood's career and for creating the prototype of all the 'Spaghetti Westerns' that followed. The genre would flourish for almost a decade, providing expatriate American actors with steady work and providing the European film industry with a steady cash flow.

Like Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars is the story of mercenary who arrives unannounced in a small town where two families are locked in a deadly power struggle. Having no allegiance to either side, this mysterious stranger hires himself out to both factions and eventually succeeds in annihilating the entire town with the exception of the coffin-maker, bartender, and bell-ringer. The basic plot and the amoral hero are also reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett's novel, Red Harvest and The Servant of Two Masters, an 18th-century farce by Carlo Goldoni.

Clint Eastwood's involvement in A Fistful of Dollars was purely a stroke of luck. He was bored with his role as Rowdy Yates on the popular TV Western, Rawhide, and was looking for other acting opportunities. When his agent informed him that a film company in Italy was interested in him for a Western entitled The Magnificent Stranger, he dismissed it at first but then reconsidered. According to the biography, Clint Eastwood by Richard Schickel, the actor recalled, "I've never been to Italy. I've never been to Spain. I've never been to Germany. I've never been to any of the countries (coproducing) this film. The worst I can come out of this is a nice little trip. I'll go over there and learn some stuff. I'll see how other people make films in other countries." What Eastwood didn't know was that the role had been offered to numerous other actors before him like Rory Calhoun, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, who said "it was just about the worst script I'd ever seen." It was actually expatriot American actor, Richard Harrison, who recommended Eastwood for the role when he was unable to take the part due to prior commitments.

When Eastwood arrived in Italy, he carried with him a sleeveless sheepskin jacket, bleached black Levis, and cigars, all of which he used in developing his character. The famous poncho was a gift from the director. He soon discovered that Leone spoke no English and neither did the rest of the cast and crew with the exception of a stuntman named Benito Stefanelli and a film representative from the Rome office. At first Eastwood had some major disagreements with Leone, particularly over the script which he found too verbose, but after convincing the director to cut his dialogue to a minimum, the two men began to collaborate more productively.

It turned out to be a grueling eight week shoot with one week at Cinecitta's Rome studio and the remaining time spent on location in Manzanias, Spain (near Madrid) and Almeria, a bleak and inhospitable area in the Andalucia region. Most of the extras and bit players were recruited from the local Gypsy population and the set was completely unlike any Hollywood production Eastwood had ever worked on. The actor later said, "We had no electricity; we didn't have a trailer with a toilet. We just went out behind rocks." There were times when the production was almost shut down due to cash shortages but Leone prevailed, shooting multiple takes on each camera setup in case the Italian film labs damaged the footage and improvising when necessary. In fact, for one scene, Leone needed a tree for a hanging sequence and confiscated one from a local farmer by pretending to be a highway official who was in charge of removing dangerous trees.

Upon completion of A Fistful of Dollars, Eastwood returned to America where he had no idea of the success he was about to experience. Leone's Western became a huge hit in Europe when it was released and soon Eastwood was called in to redub his dialogue for the English language version. It too did phenomenal business in the U.S. and paved the way for two more sequels with Leone - For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966). Not only did A Fistful of Dollars make Eastwood an international superstar but it established him as new type of Western hero, or more accurately, anti-hero - one whose mercenary motives and guilt-free killing were more in line with the chaotic sixties when traditional values were in question.

One final footnote: Although A Fistful of Dollars is generally acknowledged as the first "Spaghetti Western," it actually had several antecedants including Michael Carreras' Savage Guns (1961), which was filmed in Spain and starred Richard Basehart, and Terror of Oklahoma (1961), directed by Mario Amendola, both of which were made a good three years before A Fistful of Dollars.

Producer: Arrigo Colombo (as Harry Colombo), Giorgio Papi (as George Papi), Peter Saint (assistant producer)
Director: Sergio Leone (listed as Bob Robertson on European prints)
Screenplay: A. Bonzzoni (story), Víctor Andrés Catena (also story), Jaime Comas Gil, Fernando Di Leo (uncredited), Clint Eastwood (uncredited), Peter Fernandez (American dialogue), Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari (uncredited)
Cinematography: Massimo Dallamano (as Jack Dalmas), Federico G. Larraya
Costume Design: Carlo Simi (as Charles Simons)
Film Editing: Roberto Cinquini (as Bob Qunitle)
Original Music: Ennio Morricone (as Dan Savio)
Principal Cast: Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name), Marianne Koch (Marisol), Gian Maria Volonté (Ramón Rojo), Wolfgang Lukschy (John Baxter), Sieghardt Rupp (Esteban Rojo), Joseph Egger (Piripero).
C-100m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford

A Fistful Of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars

The Western genre was in dire need of a revival in the early sixties and even John Wayne in the lead was no guarantee that the film could draw a large audience anymore. Ironically, it was Italy, not America, that revitalized the Western with the release of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), Sergio Leone's reworking of the samurai classic, Yojimbo (1961), by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa (The latter's most famous film - The Seven Samurai (1954) - was also transformed into a Western, The Magnificent Seven starring Yul Brynner). Although most critics at the time attacked it for its excessive violence, the film's influence on the genre cannot be dismissed for Leone's vision of the Wild West was harsh, unromantized and devoid of honorable men, unlike the Westerns of John Ford. It was a place where survival was a daily challenge and a man's ability to cheat death was the only thing that mattered. Leone's cynical view of the frontier was emphasized by his often startling compositions that cut between extreme facial close-ups, stark landscapes, and sudden explosions of violence. No less effective was the unconventional music score by Ennio Morricone which mixed electric guitars with choruses of grunts, groans, and human cries. And, of course, A Fistful of Dollars is primarily famous for launching Clint Eastwood's career and for creating the prototype of all the 'Spaghetti Westerns' that followed. The genre would flourish for almost a decade, providing expatriate American actors with steady work and providing the European film industry with a steady cash flow. Like Yojimbo, A Fistful of Dollars is the story of mercenary who arrives unannounced in a small town where two families are locked in a deadly power struggle. Having no allegiance to either side, this mysterious stranger hires himself out to both factions and eventually succeeds in annihilating the entire town with the exception of the coffin-maker, bartender, and bell-ringer. The basic plot and the amoral hero are also reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett's novel, Red Harvest and The Servant of Two Masters, an 18th-century farce by Carlo Goldoni. Clint Eastwood's involvement in A Fistful of Dollars was purely a stroke of luck. He was bored with his role as Rowdy Yates on the popular TV Western, Rawhide, and was looking for other acting opportunities. When his agent informed him that a film company in Italy was interested in him for a Western entitled The Magnificent Stranger, he dismissed it at first but then reconsidered. According to the biography, Clint Eastwood by Richard Schickel, the actor recalled, "I've never been to Italy. I've never been to Spain. I've never been to Germany. I've never been to any of the countries (coproducing) this film. The worst I can come out of this is a nice little trip. I'll go over there and learn some stuff. I'll see how other people make films in other countries." What Eastwood didn't know was that the role had been offered to numerous other actors before him like Rory Calhoun, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn, who said "it was just about the worst script I'd ever seen." It was actually expatriot American actor, Richard Harrison, who recommended Eastwood for the role when he was unable to take the part due to prior commitments. When Eastwood arrived in Italy, he carried with him a sleeveless sheepskin jacket, bleached black Levis, and cigars, all of which he used in developing his character. The famous poncho was a gift from the director. He soon discovered that Leone spoke no English and neither did the rest of the cast and crew with the exception of a stuntman named Benito Stefanelli and a film representative from the Rome office. At first Eastwood had some major disagreements with Leone, particularly over the script which he found too verbose, but after convincing the director to cut his dialogue to a minimum, the two men began to collaborate more productively. It turned out to be a grueling eight week shoot with one week at Cinecitta's Rome studio and the remaining time spent on location in Manzanias, Spain (near Madrid) and Almeria, a bleak and inhospitable area in the Andalucia region. Most of the extras and bit players were recruited from the local Gypsy population and the set was completely unlike any Hollywood production Eastwood had ever worked on. The actor later said, "We had no electricity; we didn't have a trailer with a toilet. We just went out behind rocks." There were times when the production was almost shut down due to cash shortages but Leone prevailed, shooting multiple takes on each camera setup in case the Italian film labs damaged the footage and improvising when necessary. In fact, for one scene, Leone needed a tree for a hanging sequence and confiscated one from a local farmer by pretending to be a highway official who was in charge of removing dangerous trees. Upon completion of A Fistful of Dollars, Eastwood returned to America where he had no idea of the success he was about to experience. Leone's Western became a huge hit in Europe when it was released and soon Eastwood was called in to redub his dialogue for the English language version. It too did phenomenal business in the U.S. and paved the way for two more sequels with Leone - For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966). Not only did A Fistful of Dollars make Eastwood an international superstar but it established him as new type of Western hero, or more accurately, anti-hero - one whose mercenary motives and guilt-free killing were more in line with the chaotic sixties when traditional values were in question. One final footnote: Although A Fistful of Dollars is generally acknowledged as the first "Spaghetti Western," it actually had several antecedants including Michael Carreras' Savage Guns (1961), which was filmed in Spain and starred Richard Basehart, and Terror of Oklahoma (1961), directed by Mario Amendola, both of which were made a good three years before A Fistful of Dollars. Producer: Arrigo Colombo (as Harry Colombo), Giorgio Papi (as George Papi), Peter Saint (assistant producer) Director: Sergio Leone (listed as Bob Robertson on European prints) Screenplay: A. Bonzzoni (story), Víctor Andrés Catena (also story), Jaime Comas Gil, Fernando Di Leo (uncredited), Clint Eastwood (uncredited), Peter Fernandez (American dialogue), Sergio Leone, Duccio Tessari (uncredited) Cinematography: Massimo Dallamano (as Jack Dalmas), Federico G. Larraya Costume Design: Carlo Simi (as Charles Simons) Film Editing: Roberto Cinquini (as Bob Qunitle) Original Music: Ennio Morricone (as Dan Savio) Principal Cast: Clint Eastwood (The Man With No Name), Marianne Koch (Marisol), Gian Maria Volonté (Ramón Rojo), Wolfgang Lukschy (John Baxter), Sieghardt Rupp (Esteban Rojo), Joseph Egger (Piripero). C-100m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

The Man With No Name Trilogy - New 35mm Prints


Sergio Leone's "MAN WITH NO NAME" TRILOGY -A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGL (1966)- plays Friday, November 28 through Thursday, December 4 (one week) at Film Forum in new 35mm prints. The trio of films that made Clint Eastwood an action star kicks off with a two-day engagement of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, followed by a marathon of all three on Sunday, November 30.

Clint Eastwood can take a joke, but unfortunately his mule can't, and mayhem ensues in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, the first of Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name" series, with the non-eponymous hero hiring himself out to each of the trigger-happy factions battling in the same desolate, seemingly unpopulated desert town. The beginning of the "spaghetti Western" cycle, and the star-making role for erstwhile Rawhide second lead Eastwood. The producers of Kurosawa's Yojimbo sued for plagiarism, though, as Leone pointed out, the story was essentially Goldoni's 18th-century play The Servant of Two Masters-plus killings.

In the middle film, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, it's a weak moment for Eastwood's Man with No Name, as Lee Van Cleef's ex-Reb officer proves range can beat speed in a gunfight-but then they team up to hunt ruthless killer Gian Maria Volonte and all that bounty money. Most parodic of the trilogy, with highlights including Volonte's electrifying prison breakout (a stunt he'd repeat in Melville's Le Cercle Rouge); Eastwood keeping score-by bounty money tallies-of the body count; and Van Cleef striking a match off the hunched back of... Klaus Kinski!

In the trilogy's capper, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Lee Van Cleef's icy bounty hunter ("The Bad"), Eli Wallach's Mexican bandito ("The Ugly") and Clint Eastwood's con man ("The Good") contend with each other and with battling Civil War armies in their relentless search for buried gold. Leone's epic Western (accompanied by perhaps Ennio Morricone's greatest score) conjures up opera, horse opera, the bullfight arena, and the blackest of black humor. For this new restoration, MGM took recent Italian work, with more than 15 minutes not in the already-classic original U.S. release, and brought Eastwood and Wallach back to the sound studios to dub themselves for previously un-Englished sequences.

For more information about the Clint Eastwood trilogy, visit the web site at Film Forum.

The Man With No Name Trilogy - New 35mm Prints

Sergio Leone's "MAN WITH NO NAME" TRILOGY -A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965), and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGL (1966)- plays Friday, November 28 through Thursday, December 4 (one week) at Film Forum in new 35mm prints. The trio of films that made Clint Eastwood an action star kicks off with a two-day engagement of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, followed by a marathon of all three on Sunday, November 30. Clint Eastwood can take a joke, but unfortunately his mule can't, and mayhem ensues in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, the first of Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name" series, with the non-eponymous hero hiring himself out to each of the trigger-happy factions battling in the same desolate, seemingly unpopulated desert town. The beginning of the "spaghetti Western" cycle, and the star-making role for erstwhile Rawhide second lead Eastwood. The producers of Kurosawa's Yojimbo sued for plagiarism, though, as Leone pointed out, the story was essentially Goldoni's 18th-century play The Servant of Two Masters-plus killings. In the middle film, FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, it's a weak moment for Eastwood's Man with No Name, as Lee Van Cleef's ex-Reb officer proves range can beat speed in a gunfight-but then they team up to hunt ruthless killer Gian Maria Volonte and all that bounty money. Most parodic of the trilogy, with highlights including Volonte's electrifying prison breakout (a stunt he'd repeat in Melville's Le Cercle Rouge); Eastwood keeping score-by bounty money tallies-of the body count; and Van Cleef striking a match off the hunched back of... Klaus Kinski! In the trilogy's capper, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, Lee Van Cleef's icy bounty hunter ("The Bad"), Eli Wallach's Mexican bandito ("The Ugly") and Clint Eastwood's con man ("The Good") contend with each other and with battling Civil War armies in their relentless search for buried gold. Leone's epic Western (accompanied by perhaps Ennio Morricone's greatest score) conjures up opera, horse opera, the bullfight arena, and the blackest of black humor. For this new restoration, MGM took recent Italian work, with more than 15 minutes not in the already-classic original U.S. release, and brought Eastwood and Wallach back to the sound studios to dub themselves for previously un-Englished sequences. For more information about the Clint Eastwood trilogy, visit the web site at Film Forum.

Quotes

Crazy bellringer was right, there's money to be made in a place like this.
- Joe
Get three coffins ready.
- Joe
My mistake. Four coffins...
- Joe
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
When a man's got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace.
- Joe

Trivia

Clint Eastwood's role was first offered to Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson.

Eastwood helped in creating his character's distinctive visual style. He bought the black jeans from a sport shop on Hollywood Boulevard, the hat came from a Santa Monica wardrobe firm, and the trademark black cigars came from a Beverly Hills' store.

Because this was an Italian/German/Spanish co-production, there was a significant language barrier on the set. Eastwood communicated with Leone and the Italian crew mostly through stuntman Benito Stefanelli, who also acted as an unofficial interpreter for the production.

A remake of Yojimbo (1961)

When the film was shown on American Television station ABC in the early 70's, additional footage was shot to give the "Man with no Name" character a motive for going to the town (San Miguel) featured in the film. Neither Eastwood nor Leone were involved in the shooting of this additional footage. Harry Dean Stanton (uncredited) played an unidentified lawman or politician who orders Eastwood to get rid of the gangs of San Miguel in return for a pardon. Stock footage of Eastwood was used. This footage apparently no longer exists, although a copy of Dean's script did survive.

Notes

Produced in Italy and Spain. Released in Italy in 1964 as Per un pugno di dollari at 100 min; in West Germany in 1965 as Für eine Handvoll Dollars; in Spain as Por un puñado de dolares. This is the first in a series of films directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood as "The Man With No Name." Screenplay appears to have been based on the Japanese film Yojimbo (1962), q. v., although no credit is given.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 12, 1964

Wide Release in United States January 18, 1967

Limited re-release in United States May 25, 2018

Released in United States 2007

Restored print shown at Venice International Film Festival (Out of Competition - Venice Nights) August 29-September 8, 2007.

Director-writer Leone was credited onscreen as Bob Robertson in original European prints of the film.

A remake of Akira Kurosawa's "Yojimbo" (Japan/1961).

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Fall September 12, 1964

Wide Release in United States January 18, 1967

Limited re-release in United States May 25, 2018 (New York)

Released in United States 2007 (Restored print shown at Venice International Film Festival (Out of Competition - Venice Nights) August 29-September 8, 2007.)

First of the "Spaghetti Western" collaborations with Leone and Clint Eastwood. Followed by "For A Few Dollars More" and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly".