Back in the old days when writers and directors mixed genres they didn’t actually mix the genres – they just stole the story and adapted it. Such is the case with Sergio Leone’s classic A Fistful Of Dollars which is as far away from a John Wayne movie a western can get. Based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, A Fistful Of Dollars is a faithful adaptation of the story as well as being an important hallmark in the history of the western on film.
The combination of Leone’s unique style of intense close ups, sparse settings along with Eastwood’s economy of motion and talent for working with minimal dialogue contribute to a western which broke the mold. There was nothing like A Fistful Of Dollars before it came along – the idea that a protagonist could be as brutal and seemingly without a moral compass as the evil men they take on had never been done before.
MGM has put together a minimal DVD – not a whole lot of extras but that isn’t surprising for a movie that was filmed in 1967. The upside is that the sound is clear even if the sound effects are dated and the picture quality is superb. This was the first of three spaghetti westerns for Leone and Eastwood. A Fistful Of Dollars was followed by For A Few Dollars More and the seminal The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. A Fistful Of Dollars is the shortest of the three movies and the most quick paced. Fans of modern action movies will have to adjust their action expectations though to accommodate the development of an actual coherent storyline.For any serious fan of westerns A Fistful Of Dollars is a must have.