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Fistful of Dollars, A Movie Poster

Year: 1964
Director: Sergio Leone, Monte Hellman

Fistful of Dollars, A Download

Cast:

Clint Eastwood (Joe), Marianne Koch (Marisol), Gian Maria Volonté (Ramón Rojo (as Johnny Wels)), Wolfgang Lukschy (John Baxter (as W. Lukschy)), Sieghardt Rupp (Esteban Rojo (as S. Rupp)), Joseph Egger (Piripero (as Joe Edger)), Antonio Prieto (Don Miguel Benito Rojo), José Calvo (Silvanito (as Jose Calvo)), Margarita Lozano (Consuelo Baxter (as Margherita Lozano)), Daniel Martín (Julián), Benito Stefanelli (Rubio (as Benny Reeves)), Mario Brega (Chico (as Richard Stuyvesant)), Bruno Carotenuto (Antonio Baxter (as Carol Brown)), Aldo Sambrell (Rojo gang member (as Aldo Sambreli)), Harry Dean Stanton (Prison Warden .version 1977), Edmondo Tieghi (Mexican soldier), Raf Baldassarre (Juan De Dios (uncredited)), Luis Barboo (Baxter Gunman 2 (uncredited)), Frank Braña (Baxter Gang Member (uncredited)), José Canalejas (Rojo Gang Member (uncredited))

Storyline:

By the time Sergio Leone made this film, Italians had already produced about 20 films ironically labelled "spaghetti westerns." Leone approached the genre with great love and humor. Although the plot was admittedly borrowed from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961), Leone managed to create a work of his own that would serve as a model for many films to come. Clint Eastwood plays a cynical gunfighter who comes to a small border town and offers his services to two rivaling gangs. Neither gang is aware of his double play, and each thinks it is using him, but the stranger will outwit them both. The picture was the first installment in a cycle commonly known as the "Dollars" trilogy. Later, United Artists, who distributed it in the U.S., coined another term for it: the "Man With No Name" trilogy. While not as impressive as its follow-ups For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), A Fistful of Dollars contains all of Leone's eventual trademarks: taciturn characters, precise framing, extreme close-ups, and the haunting music of Ennio Morricone. Not released in the U.S. until 1967 due to copyright problems, the film was decisive in both Clint Eastwood's career and the recognition of the Italian western. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

Reviews:

ALthough in many respects this film pales in comparison with Leone's later films, it is itself a brilliant cinematic achievement. In part, this is because its failings primarily appear to be due to constraints of budget (very small and highly uncertain) and time more than anything else. Even to the extent that the skills of Leone, Morricone, and others hadn't fully flowered yet, this film is incredible at how brilliantly it is handled for what is really a first-time go. Leone had worked on, and even directed, films before, but this is his first real foray in his own direction, and into a genre that he revolutionised and with which he became forever synonymous. Who can imagine westerns without at least thinking of Leone's films, while who can think of Leone without thinking of westerns (even though his last, and arguably greatest, film was a sort of gangster film)? Similarly, one should not criticize this film for being based on Yojimbo, for that film itself was based on an American story while A Fistful of Dollars really is very different in many key respects, not least of all Leone's visual style or his own sense of irony and symbolism derived from Italian precedents and Hollywood westerns.

We also see the nascent Leone visual style here, with the close-up style and contrast of close-ups and long shots appearing. This alone sets it apart from previous films, westerns and non-westerns alike, and still provides for great visual treats that one can appreciate today.

This film also ushered in Leone's obsession with details, hard faces, grungy people, etc., that also revolutionsed the genre.

This films also marks the first brilliant score of Ennio Morricone. It is here that he introduced the lonely whistling, guitar music, chorus, and unusual combinations and styles that developed into the music that has become in the U.S. synonymous with westerns and duels in the same way that Leone's visuals and themes have.

Despite its minor flaws, this is still a great film that is not only revolutionary but still great and fun to watch even today. Like Leone's other films, it is timeless.

One must also admit that it is amazing that in the U.S. an Italian film maker basing his films partly in Italian culture and an Italian composer could come to so define and be synonymous with this genre that Americans had considered so uniquely American, and highlight its underlying universality. That alone reveals the greatness of the films, of which this is the first.

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When Per un pungo di dollari, or A Fistful Of Dollars, was released in the mid-1960s, the term "Spaghetti Western" was coined as a putdown to these brazen new films that dared to recreate the Wild West in a place as far away as Italy. However, the last laugh was shared by the Italian directors, whose new style of portraying Colonial America in a realistic style rather than the romanticised way that was characteristic of John Wayne and his contemporaries will be remembered long after the films of the romanticised style are no more.

The plot is indescribably simple, as Clint Eastwood simply wanders into a town where gang warfare has stripped the economy to the point where only the local undertaker makes a profit and turns the two warring families against one another. Sergio Leone's best-known trademark, his dynamic use of widescreen ratios, comes to the fore here as Clint shares a film frame with no less than four of his enemies, all of whom have plenty to say to him and vice versa. This is one film where a pan and scan transfer is purely and simply vandalism. Some of the dialogue that is included here absolutely takes the cake for cleverness and wit, too. Asking four gunslingers to apologise to a horse, well, if it wasn't a man as famous for playing a gunslinger as Clint Eastwood, it'd be ridiculous.

Transplanting old Samurai legends into the Wild West works well, as you can see here. Simply having an old mercenary who travels the land in search of wrongs to right and battles to be fought makes the story a lot more compelling than the Westerns where we are told every iota of the characters' motivations in the hope that it will give them some depth. The element of the main hero not getting involved in every scuffle that the bad guys cause, our semi-nameless hero's ignoring a drunken thug shooting at a little boy being the most obvious example, was another master stroke, one that got Eastwood involved in doing the film to begin with. The confrontation at the end of the film works well, too, with pyrotechnics exploding all over the picture in a bright display that keeps the film powerful and yet focused at the same time.

All in all, Per un pungo di dollari gets nine out of ten from me. The lack of any interesting support characters does dull the story a little, but this mistake was quickly rectified in the two sequels. The addition of Lee Van Cleef also worked well, but in this effort, it's all Clint Eastwood, and while the rest of the cast are nowhere near as interesting, it's all a better watch than anything the Americans were lumping out at the time.

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