Directed by Lindsay Anderson
HOME, 22 May 2018
A Fistful of Dollars
Directed by Sergio Leone
HOME, 22 May 2018
I saw these two, apparently dissimilar, films at HOME on the same day.
They are, actually, very different indeed: one an explosive allegory of the British Empire 1.0, the other a classic Clint Eastwood Western. Yet in the two films, the hero’s trials and tribulations, the catalyst for their bloody retribution, is more or less the same. Let us look at it.
Mick (the brilliant Malcolm McDowell) is beaten up by the seniors, as Joe (Clint Eastwood) is beaten and tortured and interrogated (naturally, he doesn’t talk) by a gang of Mexican bandits. Away from their tormentors (Joe has to escape first, which he does by getting out of town by hiding in a coffin), both plot their revenge by practising their shooting skills: Mick takes pot-shots with an air pistol at the photos on the wall of his den (later he will use real bullets in a real gun), while Joe gets his injured gun-hand in gear once more by aiming at the heart of a steel shield. There is an all guns blazing showdown at the end of both films, A Fistful of Dollars featuring a gunfight with one man standing (guess who?) at the end of it.
If…. (the ellipsis in the title & the title credits has four dots not three, which will be intensely annoying for some) is a truly classic film, rewarding many viewings: note, for example, the sympathetic portrayal of homosexual desire, young Bobby watching entranced as an older boy, Wallace, practices his gymnastics. And whilst A Fistful of Dollars, a Spaghetti Western, is your typical Clint Eastwood vehicle, it does have its moments: spectacular gunfights, horses being driven at break-neck speed as Ennio Morricone’s martial music throws down a throbbing beat, the bandits’ infectious glee in destruction (their eyes anticipating fire and pyrotechnics), Joe as Jesus Incognito, undergoing death and rebirth and miraculously evading myriad bullets up close. A Fistful of Dollars is also worth seeing because it is one of the fragments that makes up the mosaic of ‘Clint Eastwood, Gunfighter’. The magnificent Unforgiven (a genuine classic) alludes to A Fistful of Dollars as to other films.