Cast and Crew: Gian Maria Volonte
What It’s About: When Joe (Clint Eastwood) enters a town ruled by two warring families, he quickly begins to sell his services as a gunman to both sides, playing a dangerous game as he profits from both. Is his final aim really profit, how long can he keep up his deception, and will anyone survive?
Why Watch it Today?: Samuel Colt formed the Patent Arms Company today in 1836 to make and sell his first revolver design.* Eventually Colt and the guns he created became synonymous with the Old West. Fistful of Dollars famously pits Joe’s Colt revolver against the villain’s Winchester rifle. Fistful of Dollars was Sergio Leone’s first Western, and, by transplanting Akira Kurosowa’s Yojimbo (itself a transplantation of Dashiell Hammet’s gang war novel Red Harvest to Japan) to the Old West (and doing so with great style) he created an international hit in what had been up until then an unimaginative and extremely low prestige sub-genre, European-made Westerns. Leone’s films would get bigger and bolder, but Fistful of Dollars remains a taut, entertaining Western, with Leone providing the directorial flair, Eastwood the cool, low-key menace, and Ennio Morricone the big, operatic soundtrack.
*p. 151 Chapel, Charles Edward. Guns of the Old West, 2002.