(Review originally written at 30 May 2008)

It's not exactly as if this was the first spaghetti-western ever made but it was the movie that became the first mainstream success and pretty much marked the beginning of the success of a popular new genre. It was also the movie that launched Clint Eastwood's career as a leading man in movie roles. Before this he mostly played background characters in movies and had about 2 lines and he starred in a couple of TV-series, of which "Rawhide" is the best known example and is pretty much the reason who he got his role in this movie.

I liked this movie a tad bit better than its first sequel of the 'dollar-trilogy'; "Per qualche dollaro in più" because the story had a bit more substance and the movie was less dark of tone. Of course it's not as good as its final sequel "Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo" but then again, which western is?

The movie does not has an original story do, since this movie is an unofficial remake of the Japanese Kurosawa movie "Yojimbo". Director Akira Kurosawa and writer Ryuzo Kikushima even successfully sued but luckily the movie still got its release. Imaging if this movie wouldn't had been around and it would had been canceled. It perhaps would had meant the end of Sergio Leone's career and definitely the end of the spaghetti-western's, even before the genre took off.

It's a great story with some great genre characters in it, that basically is about the ancient theme of good versus evil, which really is the story in a nutshell.

The movie is directed with lots of style but it also became apparent that director Sergio Leone had yet to perfect his style. There are some trademark elements present, mostly with its compositions and long shots of people's faces but it's not really completely the style yet he became so famous for.

It's mostly Clint Eastwood that makes this movie. Can you even imaging this movie without him? Casting him in the lead role was like the best thing since the invention of the Internet. Seriously though, he acts superbly in this film and he fits his role like a glove. It marked for him the beginning of a great long career of acting in movies, of course mostly also western's.

A great early genre example!


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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