A Fistful of Dollars is one of those Clint Eastwood classics as he portrays his now legendary character, the “Man With No Name”.
Almost every cliché every associated with Old West Stories was thrown into the character of the cool and mysterious gunslinger who arrives from nowhere into a town with an evil story to tell. He takes on the wicked, the evil, the greedy and the deceitful, showing nerves of steel like the famous Wyatt Earp up against the cowboys.
Although shot mostly in Spain, the backgrounds and scenery carry the mystery of the old west quite well.
The man with no name rides into town looking for work as a hired killer. He sets himself up in the battle between the warring families, the Baxters and the Rejos. The families are locked in a seemingly never ending feud that doesn’t progress for either side and gives no-one control over the smuggling trade.
The movie misses one of the classic ingredients of the best of the Old West Stories. Although the lone crusader almost eradicates the population of bad guys in the town and protects a beautiful woman, he doesn’t exude the moral virtue of the very best kind of the wild west hero, the lawman. He shows his icy soul and cynicism and couples that to a gun hand swifter and more accurate than the legendary picture of Billy the Kid.
He quickly checks out the situation and comments “There’s money to be made in a place like this,” and then he sets about making it from both sides.
Man With No Name Stands Alone
At first he guns down four of Baxter’s men and looks to be throwing in with the Rejo’s. It soon becomes apparent though that he is playing both sides and is standing alone at every moment, not just as he is in this picture.
His secret and personal activities include playing both sides against each other with the skill of an expert politician. After he has started off a holocaust in the little town and destroyed the last of his employers, he casually rides out of town, carrying his fistful of dollars.
Old West Stories does not rate this as the best of western stories but Clint Eastwood is. Without him this picture may have failed but with him, the cool and fearsome hero of the wild west is enhanced another notch.
Check out the Movie Reviews page for more on “A Fistful of Dollars” and other Old West Stories portrayed in movie form.