A Fistful of Dollars

What to Watch

I recently caught up with Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015) which never made much of an appearance in Malaysia.  This is not because of the violence but for the excessive use of the n-word.  Take this out and you would have been left with 10 minutes of unedited dialogue.  In Malaysia movies are filtered for bad language, kissing and other unseemly forms of coupling.  I noticed that the music for The Hateful Eight was scored by Ennio Morricone, for which he won an Oscar.  Ennio is also well known for several highly memorable scores for Sergio Leone’s films of the mid 60’s. The man is 87 years old and still working, having recently scored a number of other Tarantino movies.

This tenuously brings us to the movie to watch this week.  Which is Sergio Leone’s first foray into the Western genre called A Fistful of Dollars (1964).  These movies became know as ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ because they were directed and produced by Italians!  A Fistful of Dollars made a star out of Clint Eastwood who was at the time largely unknown.  Eastwood’s typically understated style contrasts wonderfully with the (over)acting going on around him.  He would go on to make two more movies with Leone – For A Few Dollars More (1965) and the excellent The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), forming a loose trilogy.

Companion piece

Loene’s A Fistful of Dollars is not so much based on but is an exact copy of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961).  Substitute guns for swords and you will have Kurosawa’s sumurai classic, no wonder there was a lawsuit.  Kurosawa insisted that Leone made “a fine movie, but it was my movie”!  Yojimbo stars the incomparable Toshiro Mifune.  It is in every way the superior movie but both are fun to watch.

It is interesting to see how directors influence one another. Tarantino by Leone, in turn by Kurosawa who was influenced by the Hollywood westerns of John Ford’s such as The Searchers (1956).  You should also seek out and watch the John Sturges directed The Magnificent Seven (1960) based on Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954).  The 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven by Antoine Fuque and starring Chris Pratt, credits the three writers of Seven Samurai.  There is even a character called Red Harvest.  Which happens to be the name of the Dashiell Hammett book upon which Yojimbo and A Fistfull of Dollars is based … And so the circle is complete.

Happy viewing!

The Movie Cricket

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