Bottom Line: A heavily influential, landmark “spaghetti Western”.
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Starring: Antonio Prieto, Carol Brown, Clint Eastwood, Joe Edger, Johnny Wels, Jose Calvo, Marianne Koch, Richard Stuyvesant, S. Rupp, W. Lukschy
Despite having been long since established as its own, official genre, the Western genre always strikes me as something with more distinct, specific qualities than a drama or a thriller. Like superhero and spy films, the genre typically keeps itself within the same constraints, as far as themes, settings, and characters. Per un pugno di dollari, known in the US as A Fistful of Dollars, is perhaps the very most important Italian film of the 1960s. It’s difficult to compare it to any other similar film, but there are several non-Westerns that created a similar legacy. Take America’s late-’70s horror film Halloween, for instance. That film single-handledly invented the “slasher” genre, made a star out of actress Jamie Lee Curtis, and had filmmakers charging frenetically to clone it. Similarly, Per un pugno di dolllari was the one film to devise the “spaghetti Western”, made Clint Eastwood a widely recognizable name, and had practically every filmmaker in Italy rushing to make a film just as laudable.