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52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 13, 2005
I think people are missing the point of this film when they focus on the action sequence. The underlying theme of the entire movie is one of self sacrifice for what is right and just. It is wrong to conclude that main the character (clint eastwood) pits the two gangs against each other for the money. If that is the case, then why does he give it ALL away to Marisol, to whom he owes NO obligation or favors, at the risk of his own life? Fortunately for the viewers, Marisol does ask why. His answer is "..because...I used to know someone like you..and there was no one to help.." (probably referring to his own mother whom he was powerless to rescue from the raping bandits). That one line says EVERYTHING about his past, his motivation, and the theme of the movie. The director goes to great length to convince the viewer the "man with no name" has no morals. In fact, he seems downright evil and greedy, as he constantly says "I don't work for cheap" and seems to be ready for hire for any sordid duties asked of him for the right price. Only in the very brief and defining moment of the movie (when he rescues Marisol, her son, and her husband) we see him as he truly is. Unlike most westerns, the man does not waste words preaching righteousness, he lets his actions speak for themselves. It is the moral subtlety of this movie which makes it great.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 10, 2007
(This review refers to the new 2-disc "collector's edition" released in 2007.)

A Fistful of Dollars kicked off a new era for the western, a tried and true--and, by 1964, almost exhausted--cinematic genre that needed a fresh start. Audiences had grown cynical and tired of the white-hat/black-hat simplicity of most western classics and, as with the waning war-film genre, were looking for something different.

Enter Sergio Leone and A Fistful of Dollars, a gritty "Italian western" shot in Spain on a shoestring budget and starring an up-and-coming--but still virtually unknown--television actor named Clint Eastwood. The movie was a huge international hit, launched Eastwood into stardom, and spawned two subsequent "Man With No Name" westerns and dozens of imitations.

MGM's new release of this classic "new western" is outstanding. In recent years, I've been pleased every time MGM has issued a new release of a classic from its library, as every new edition has improved vastly upon those previous.

Picture quality: Excellent anamorphic transfer, diligently tidied up and restored. Outstanding.

Sound quality: Includes the requisite original mono track and an excellent new surround-sound mix.

Special features: Very good. An informative commentary track by film historian Sir Christopher Frayling is accompanied by a second disc including several nice featurettes, none of which are boring and none of which are so long that they wear out their welcome. I watched most of them while getting ready in the morning.

If you've been waiting for a good edition of A Fistful of Dollars, this is it.

Highly recommended.
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42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2003
A Fistful of Dollars is truly one of the big classics in the western genre and one that began a newer, better style of western films. First in a string of Clint Eastwood's "spaghetti" westerns, it has a style and cinematic class all to itself. This is where Clint Eastwood began his style of western hero who doesn't say much, but gets his point across through his facial expressions and of course his actions, more specifically with his six shooter at his side.
The premise:
Clint Eastwood plays "the man with no name" other than the name given to him by one of the characters in the film, Joe. In what is now a classic style, he rides into town on a mule and witnesses the brutality of the town bullies. Without saying a word to them, they harass him and he calmly goes into one of the town bars, has some food and listens to what the bar owner has to tell him about the town's situation. He casually decides to stay and do something about the entire situation, walks out and takes out four of the bad guys. What follows from there is such an outstanding film that is fraught with a certain degree of humor as he deftly plays both sides against his middle and walks away with "A Fistful of Dollars."
If you're a fan of the western genre and haven't seen this classic, I highly suggest you pick this DVD up. Some might be put off by the age of this movie, that is simply not the case though as this movie is timeless. Despite the fact that it was made in Spain, with many European actors and in a foreign language, it's just pure fun!
The DVD:
Given today's almighty DVD's where there is every sort of special/extra feature that a fan can imagine, this one is your meat and potato's kind. It has the movie, a great theatrical trailer and a booklet. It is nice and simple, with not too much to get wrapped around other than the outstanding movie within. The booklet is an extremely interesting read, giving some facts for the movie I wasn't aware of. {ssintrepid}
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
It is difficult now to realize what a very, very unusual movie this is. It is hard to remember that before this film, Clint Eastwood was merely a well-known and well-liked television personality (Rowdy Yates on RAWHIDE), but not a major star and very definitely not a movie star. His casting in this film was, at the time, surprising. On RAWHIDE, he had played a hotheaded young Turk, full of emotion and with a tendency to say too much rather than too little. The idea of having him star in any movie was somewhat unusual, but especially one in which he had to play a close-mouthed, mysterious, and almost emotionless stranger. And the idea of an Italian director filming a Western in Spain with a largely European cast with most of the voices dubbed was unheard of. And the soundtrack sounded as if it had somehow seeped into our universe from some parallel but much stranger galaxy. But the movie was not only a success, it managed to create a new genre of Western (the spaghetti Western), made Sergei Leone an internationally successful director, and made Clint Eastwood one of the movies greatest stars.
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was based on the Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO, with Toshiro Mifune playing the Clint Eastwood role. I am a huge fan of Kurosawa, but I have to confess that I like the Western much more. YOJIMBO was in turned based on the Dashiell Hammett novel RED HARVEST, in which the Continental Op (who was himself a man with no name, in that in the few dozen stories and the two novels in which the operative from the Continental Detective agency stars, we never learn his name). In that novel, the Op goes to the town of Personville (which one wag in the book pronounces "Poisonville") and turns the two rival criminal organizations against each other. RED HARVEST was remade yet again in the late 1990s in a much weaker movie starring Bruce Willis called LAST MAN STANDING.
Many things contribute to the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS: Ennio Morricone's shockingly original soundtrack, the highly ritualized and stylized direction of Leone, the marvelous adaptation of the Hammett novel and the Kurosawa screenplay. But in the end, it is the character of "Joe" AKA "The Man with No Name," who makes this movie work. At first, we view him as a cold-blooded and calculating schemer, who is concerned only with how much money he can wring out of the two crime families by playing them against one another. But when he witnesses the plight of a woman who has been stolen from her husband and child and forced to be the mistress of the head of one of the families, his humanity is awakened, and he takes tremendous risks to free her and reunite her with her family. When asked why, we learn the only biographical detail that we learn of The Man With No Name in the three movies that Eastwood made with Leone: "I knew someone like you once."
A great movie. And one of the most improbable successes in the history of the cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2003
When a dangerous drifter (Clint Eastwood) is passing through a lawless town with two rival gangs fighting, he finds himself hired by both gangs (most likely because of his accuracy in shooting three bullies as he entered), and decides to take both jobs. As his currency rises (as the title implies), his cover is eventually blown, leaving the nameless drifter to fight for his life.
This western remake of Akria Kurosawa's samurai classic, "Yojimbo" is highly enjoyable and a deviation from most light-hearted western films that came before it (this was one of the first spaghetti western films). With it's fast-paced violent action and darkly humorous dialogue, "Fistful Of Dollars" is a classic. If you don't usually enjoy western films but do enjoy action films, you should see this. If you liked "Yojimbo", this may spark your interest as well.
If you liked this film, I would also recommend "Last Man Standing" with Bruce Willis (it's an updated "Fistful Of Dollars")
Overall rating: 5 stars
Although this film was originally unrated, the MPPA gave it an R-rating with the special edition in the 1990's. This is probably because the film contains stylized violence including a graphic beating, and minimal language.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2000
Astonishing remake of Akira Kurosawa's YOJIMBO, FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, directed by italian director Sergio Leone, deserves to be in every movie lover's library. In Toshiro Mifune's role, Clint Eastwood gave a performance that established him as one of the greatest american star of the next forty years.
With an international cast of german, italian, spanish and american actors, FISTFUL OF DOLLARS could have been only an ordinary B-movie of the early 60's. On the contrary, this movie has become the symbol of the revival of a dying Hollywood genre - the western - and will be followed by dozens of imitations until the definitive burial of the genre by Clint Eastwood with the masterpiece UNFORGIVEN.
The villain, played by Gian-Maria Volontè, is so terrific that Sergio Leone will hire this wonderful italian actor to play the role of Indio, the bad guy of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, with the result we all know.
I was a little bit anxious before playing the DVD ; the bad quality of the image of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE was still on my mind. But, don't worry - be happy, the copy was in almost perfect state and the transfer well done. Subtitles and a trailer as bonus features.
A DVD for your library.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2007
It's over 40 years ago now, but I can vividly recall being a young boy and seeing the television ads / trailers for this "new" kind of western.

In the early 60's, westerns ruled the television airways - Bonanza / Gunsmoke / Cheyenne / Maverick and on and on the list goes.

But nothing prepared me for the impact that this western - and Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone - would have on me throughout my teen and adult years.

To this day, I'm in awe of Sergio Leone's ability to take something that's uniquely American - the western - and re-invent the "art form".

A Fistful of Dollars is certainly not unique in terms of the story line -in fact, it's a western adaptation of a famous Japanese film - a "stranger" rides into a town and is pitted against rival forces. Read any Louis L'Amour western novel, for example, and chances are that the protaganist of the book is exactly in the same / similar situation.

This film was a "preview" of things to come in For a Few Dollars More and the epic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly where Clint is the "good guy", but sometimes he's not so "good".

Watch any American western of the 50's or 60's and chances are that the good guy is always wearing a white hat and ONLY draws his gun when it's absolutely necessary and then ONLY to kill "bad" guys.

Clint's Man With No Name character. for example, is quick to kill 4 men at the beginning of this film just for shooting at the feet of his burro. It's unlikely you would have seen Ben Cartwright react the same way had he been in the same situation.

And then, of course, we have the beginning of a wonderful "marriage" between Leone and Ennio Morricone, whose soundtracts became as recognizable and as important as the film itself. This marriage only got better with the later Dollar films and the masterpiece - Once Upon A Time In The West.

There's a story - and it's probably true - that Clint was offered this film during the summer hiatus of Rawhide and initially was going to turn down the $[...] role.

However, his then-wife Maggie convinced him to do it saying that the worst that could happen is that they would enjoy a vacation in Italy and Spain, where the film was primarily shot.

You have to wonder if we'd even know or remember who Clint Eastwood was had he not taken this film, which eventually propelled him to international superstardom.

This is a very, very good film (the next one was better and the last of the dollar pics was the best) that I can watch 100 times and never get bored.

If you haven't seen it, you should if only to see how an American Icon - CLINT EASTWOOD got his start..!!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2013
A Fistful of Dollars is easily one of the best spaghetti westerns you can get. The story is pretty simple. A mysterious gunslinger arrives in a town where its citizens are caught up in a rivalry between two rival gangs: Los Rojos and The Baxters. The gunslinger decides to use his extraordinary skills with his .45 to get in good with boths gangs in hopes of walking away a rich man. Sound familiar? That's because A Fistful of Dollars is an unauthorized adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's samurai classic, Yojimbo. Rather than being treated as another pulp film (like so many spaghetti westerns before and after), Fistful is treated with class. The direction and cinematography, while not as defined as director Sergio Leone's later work (I.e The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, Once Upon A Time In The West, ect.), is still leagues above the work you see in a lot of films today and the music by composer Ennio Morricone is simply amazing. The acting is terrific, especially from Clint Eastwood as the mysterious gunslinger. He hardly speaks, yet he's gone down in history as one of the most badass protagonists in cinema. While A Fistful of Dollars isn't as good as its two sequels, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, its still a great piece of Italian cinema. The film itself gets a 4/5 from me.

But what about the blu-ray? Compared to the first two DVD releases, this is a great upgrade. Don't expect anything demo worthy, but colors and detail look fine when you consider that this was a low budget film that wasn't very pretty to begin with. This release also has an optional 5.1 audio track but its hardly an upgrade to the original mono track. The special features are all great as well, the highlight being a TV-only intro that was only shown the first night it aired on American television. However, if you already have the special edition DVD from 2004 then the blu-ray upgrades aren't quite as noticeable. They share all but one of the special features and the video quality is already pretty good on the DVD. Because of this, I'd give this blu-ray release a 3.5/5.

All in all, A Fistful of Dollars is a fantastic film and this blu-ray release does it justice. If you still have your old DVD copy of this movie then an upgrade is a no brainer, However, I'd wait for a low price if you already have the 2004 DVD.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 21, 2005
If you know this film , I would advise going to and looking at the Special Edition of this film to see what you are missing out on , features wise .

It is worth waiting for it to come out in the US if you really like the film . Both this film and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE are out in Special Editions in the UK .

Let the buyer choose - it may be worth looking at buying a Multi Region DVD player .

The main character is shown as an opportunist , but then most people around him are too .

It is entertaining and shows where a lot of camera cliches first began - that is not director Sergio Leone's fault however .

Sometimes I think other newer filmmakers think that if they use his style their films will somehow become better , but it doesn't work like that .

Watch the master at work and see how Clint learned his trade .
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2000
I remember not long ago, there was a time when westerns made me gag... In my eyes, if John Wayne defined this genre, not a single film was worth watching.... Then I saw "High Plains Drifter" and I was TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY (nice pun, huh?)...... I fell in love with the Clint Eastwood western, and he became my Western Icon. I HAD to watch the Man With No Name trilogy that I had heard so much about... and I was NOT dissapointed....
If you are a true film lover, and if you appreciate film as the artisitic form of expression that it is, then you love the Man with No Name trilogy with every fiber of your being, and it's opening chapter, "A Fistful of Dollars" will grab you by your neck and draw you into the world of Sergio Leone "spaghetti" westerns.
Eastwood is the aesthetic hero, the existential wanderer motivated by pure self-interest...but he has his own code of honor which he upholds... He is the reincarnation of every solitary warrior that has ever ridden in every age of history. And with his entrancing and supremely fatal skill, he leads us through the desolate landscape of the REAL American frontier; This time we're entrenched in a feud between two rival gangs in a small Mexican ramshackle border village known as San Miguel. As the shopkeeper says "Every woman is a widow"...the only people with jobs are the bell-ringer, who tolls for the dead, and the eccentric old coffin-maker.... Gian Maria Volonte is superb as the murderous Ramon, a person who must have been typical in his day.
This hypnotic film will make you drool for it's sequels, "For a Few Dollars More" (my favorite of the three) and "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly". It is a true landmark film, unlike anything you have ever seen. Even the title sequence is enticing!
DVD Verison: While the picture quality is far superior to any VHS version, and I imagine, even better than the picture quality of the original theatrical release, it's still not up to par with more modern films. It's the best you can get from this film, though (remember, it was very low-budget!)
As for the sound, it is quite bad when compared to other DVDs. But again, that's the low-budget of the original sound on the original version. But I imagine that this is the best you can get out of the sound quality for this film.
It certainly doesn't take away from your film experience, though!
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