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Fistful of Dollars, the first of the “Man with No Name” trilogy and the film that popularized what came to be known as the “Spaghetti Western” lives up to its legacy. From the opening scene with the Man with No Name riding into San Miguel to the bloody ending the film is incredible. San Miguel is the town where the only way to get respect is by killing so the only men who work anymore are the undertaker and the unsuccessful Cantina owner. Everyone else works for the Baxters or the Rojos with Eastwood in the middle. The Man with no Name plays one family against the other protecting the few innocent people and eliminating the towns two ruling families.
The movie is beautifully made from Leone’s signature scenic shots to Ennio Morricone’s haunting score . I particularly enjoyed the shot when the Baxters are crossing San Miguel to meet with the Rojos. A long shot of the Rojos house from about where the Baxter’s house is. The Baxters cross into the shot and walk away from us across town towards their enemies. The score sets the mood to match Leone’s shots and builds the tension in the right moments. It does what any good score should do. The movie’s theme music is great and the hook is haunting.
Eastwood’s Man with No Name is appropriately frightening and charming when he plays the families against one another. The other actors aren’t all that much to watch. They’re not bad, but none of them really compare to Eastwood’s performance. Even Gian Maria Volontè as the main villain Ramón Rojo isn’t really all that impressive. He pulls off the ruthless monster well, but there’s not much else to it. Not that that’s entirely his fault, the script doesn’t give the character all that much depth. The script isn’t bad but it’s not great either. Pretty standard for westerns of the time with the slightly corny dialog, but honestly not nearly as bad as other westerns I’ve seen. What will probably get most people who’ve never seen a Spaghetti Western before is the dubbing. The dialog comes off a little bit more awkward when the only lips the words match are Eastwood’s.
Overall, the film is great. Beautifully shot with a great score, solid characters, a good plot, and a good performance by Eastwood. If you’re looking to watch a western, then you will not be disappointed by this movie. I’d give it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.


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