A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

1964

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari) (1964)

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Critic Consensus: With Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo as his template, Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars helped define a new era for the Western and usher in its most iconic star, Clint Eastwood.

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Movie Info

By the time Sergio Leone made this film, Italians had already produced about 20 films ironically labelled "spaghetti westerns." Leone approached the genre with great love and humor. Although the plot was admittedly borrowed from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961), Leone managed to create a work of his own that would serve as a model for many films to come. Clint Eastwood plays a cynical gunfighter who comes to a small border town and offers his services to two rivaling gangs. Neither gang is aware of his double play, and each thinks it is using him, but the stranger will outwit them both. The picture was the first installment in a cycle commonly known as the "Dollars" trilogy. Later, United Artists, who distributed it in the U.S., coined another term for it: the "Man With No Name" trilogy. While not as impressive as its follow-ups For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), A Fistful of Dollars contains all of Leone's eventual trademarks: taciturn characters, precise framing, extreme close-ups, and the haunting music of Ennio Morricone. Not released in the U.S. until 1967 due to copyright problems, the film was decisive in both Clint Eastwood's career and the recognition of the Italian western. ~ Yuri German, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

All Critics (47) | Top Critics (6)

Every genre-loving moviegoer should see at least once projected on a theater screen.

May 23, 2018 | Full Review…

Once in a great while a western comes along that breaks new ground and becomes a classic of the genre.

May 23, 2011 | Full Review…
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This is a hard-hitting item, ably directed, splendidly lensed, neatly acted, which has all the ingredients wanted by action fans and then some.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

Though far less operatic and satisfying than Leone's later work, his first spaghetti Western with Eastwood still looks stylish, if a little rough at the edges.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Egregiously synthetic but engrossingly morbid, violent film.

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Really little more than a series of loosely connected shoot-outs -- but, as Sergio Leone proved, there can be a lot of fun in that.

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4

Audience Reviews for A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

A very cool western well made and directed. Eastwood manages on infiltrate a gang so he can get to their leader. Plenty of shoot-outs.

Dean King
Dean King

Super Reviewer

Leone's classic that laid the ground for a new era for Westerns, and even though it is not as fantastic and visually stunning as what he would make after, you can already find here the seeds of his unique directing style and the introduction of Eastwood's sullen anti-hero, The Man With No Name.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

The Man With No Name: When a man's got money in his pocket he begins to appreciate peace. A FIstful of Dollars is Sergio Leone's first in his Spaghetti Western trilogy, centering around a drifter with no name. This isn't my favorite of the trilogy, but it is a great film in its own right. This is the movie that made Clint Eastwood into a star and also the first great film from Leone. So its importance goes without saying. The plot is that of Kurosawa's Yojimbo, substitute gunfighters for samurai's. This film is beautifully shot, with extreme close ups and well framed shots. Sergio Leone took the spaghetti western and made it a relevant genre, while also breathing new life into a dying genre; the American Western. Certainly a film that needs a viewing. You don't have to love westerns to enjoy any of the films in Leone's trilogy. You only have to be able to enjoy great filmmaking and that's what A Fistful of Dollars is.

Melvin White
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Not quite up to its reputation, if only because Eastwood & Leone went on to make better. All the elements are here though - cool as fuck Clint w/ his black stub cigar and his inscrutable squint - Morricone's wonderfully stark music and Leone's devastating widescreen compositions. Above all this may be the first western without a white hat It's greed, violence and death, played out in the mythic filthy Texas desert.

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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