Before the Dirty Harry movies cemented him as a superstar, Clint Eastwood had to start from somewhere. That somewhere is now considered one of the greatest trilogies ever put to film, while also being one of the greatest westerns. I am talking about the Dollars Trilogy, specifically about A Fistful of Dollars, the movie that started it all.
Of course, there is a subgenre in which this movie can be included. It is called a spaghetti western, mainly because Sergio Leone initiated it and he is an Italian (in Japan it is called macaroni western). But how did it all start – well, it seems that Sergio Leone liked his lunches very much, this meaning that he was always late on sets, way before actually beginning to develop this trilogy.
So, more than once, he found himself unemployed because of this. Only when he saw himself without any alternatives he decided to make such movies – suddenly, the name spaghetti western has a different connotation.
But this type of movie needed a different type of hero – it is a well-known fact that Sergio Leone drew inspiration from Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (maybe he did more than just that), so he needed the same type of hero. Among the actors he wanted, we can recall Henry Fonda (who later on appeared in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West – his masterpiece, most likely) and Richard Harrison. But, since none of them was available, the director listened to Harrison’s suggestion and struck gold with Clint Eastwood.
And Clint Eastwood was a great unknown, so to speak, before shooting A Fistful Of Dollars. While he did have a few roles under his belt, he mainly worked as a lifeguard, or as a gas station attended.
But he knew what he wanted to do – cynical, self-reliant, sometimes (if not all the times) amoral (given his hidden agenda), Clint Eastwood and the Man with No Name (or Blondie, as he is called later on in the trilogy) can be said to be one and the same, at that age.
Clint Eastwood didn’t follow the script to the letter. As a matter of fact, he came up with many of his lines – and, even if he was just a newcomer in the industry, he was entitled to. The confidence the viewer sees in the character is the confidence of the young actor.
It can be said that the better film in the Dollars Trilogy is The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It can be said that the biggest (emotional) punch is taken in For A Few Dollars More. But the beginning is always the most important.
A Fistful Of Dollars didn’t just jump-start a whole genre, but it also presented us with the genius of Clint Eastwood (who, to this day, is still making movies – American Sniper is scheduled for release on the 16th of January 2015).