In the past 5 years, I’ve become a relatively big fan of the comedian Joey Diaz. At least once a month, he talks about “A Fistful of Dollars” (AFD) and the “Dollars” trilogy. AFD is the first installment of this trilogy which also included “For a Few Dollars More” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. He has nothing but good words to say about the film. It’s clearly one of the greatest films ever created, in his opinion. So I finally decided to bite the bullet and watch it for myself. I was definitely not let down by the experience. In fact, I found the film very inspiring.
On that note, today I’m going to recap what I thought were the top 5 scenes of AFD. AFD was released in 1964 in Italy and in 1967 in the States. Yes – even at over 50 years old (52 to be exact), it still holds up today. It even has one of the highest scores on Rotten Tomatoes, 98%. It was Clint Eastwood’s first leading role as “Joe”, or more famously, “the Man with No Name”.
The film was directed by Sergio Leone, the famous director of 60’s era Spaghetti Western films. As a matter of fact, Leone is considered the “creator” of the entire Spaghetti Western genre. I think the genre is called “SPAGHETTI” Western because they were made in Italy, and that’s from where the world got spaghetti. Furthermore, AFD is treated as the film that established the genre. It is set in San Miguel, Mexico in the late 19th century.
Sergio Leone also happens to be Quentin Tarantino’s favorite director. In addition, Tarantino’s favorite film is “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, also directed by Leone, and the final member of the “Dollars” trilogy. You can definitely see the Spaghetti Western influence in pretty much all of Tarantino’s films. However, the influence is most apparent in “Django Unchained” (2012) and “The Hateful Eight” (2015). But I digress; let’s start out by looking at the #5 scene from AFD, as decided by me, Jules Didlio.
5). At 5:30 “Joe” (Clint Eastwood) rides into town (San Miguel). One of the first things he passes is a noose hanging from a tree. Next, a man crosses paths with Joe. Joe turns around to see there’s a sign on the man’s back that says “adios amigo”. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie. He definitely isn’t riding into small town, suburban, peaceful America. He’s entering the violent, lawless, ruthless Mexico of the 19th century.
#4). At 58:05 Joe is shown shooting the groin of a suit of armor, I found some humor in this scene. My first thought upon watching this was the multiple mentions throughout the film of aiming for people’s hearts when shooting. And also the literal shooting of people’s hearts throughout the film.
Before I could even finish my thought, as Joe is walking towards the armor, Ramón Rojo shoots the heart-area of the armor. The man actually forms a heart with his bullets in the armor. This scene contains my favorite verbal exchange of the whole film:
Ramón declares, “When you want to kill a man, you must shoot for his heart, and the Winchester is the best weapon”. Joe replies, “That’s very nice, but I’ll stick with my .45.”. Ramón answers, “When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with the pistol will be a dead man.” **Spoiler alert**, this is a HUGE foreshadowing of the end of the movie.
#3). At 25:42 Joe is watching from a safe distance as a massacre of the Mexican Army is occurring. Ramón of the Rojo family is doing the killing. This is just a cool, action packed scene. Reminds me of the “Say Hello To My Little Friend” scene from Scarface. This is exactly what comes to mind when I think of what should happen in western movies. This scene is significant to the storyline for a couple of reasons. One is it shows that, even though San Miguel is in the country of Mexico, the Mexican government has very little control over the people of this particular town, and the 2 sparring families are the real authority in the area. It also shows that Joe doesn’t have to answer to anyone, because the “legitimate” government has no authority.
#2). At 1:02:08 Joe is shown shooting up a room full of men. He walks in and says “Hello!” This way they can look the man in the eye who has come to take their souls. They’re all gone in less than 5 seconds. After shooting, Joe starts ransacking the room, and while he’s not paying attention, one of the men starts to move. Marisol warns him of the movement. He quickly throws the machete into the man’s chest and solves that small issue.
#1). Our winner! At 42:00 Joe is shown shooting at a man’s feet who is guarding a door, “the bullet dance”. Immediately I thought of the scene in Goodfellas with Spider (Michael Imperioli) doing the bullet dance while Tommy (Joe Pesci) is shooting at his feet – eventually shooting one of those feet. Which is also alluded to in The Sopranos when Christopher (Imperioli, again) shoots at the feet of a bakery worker, causing him to do the “bullet dance”, eventually shooting one of his feet. Is it a coincidence that the “bullet dance” was featured in Italian Spaghetti Westerns, and also mob movies and shows that came after it? All I can do is point out that this type of scene appears in both genres.
And that’s all folks. Remember this list is MY opinion. And I’m not a film expert. So I’m sure there will be some people out there who disagree with me. I had a handful (or Fistful) of runners-up and stressed out mucho over this list. So please give me your opinions and also your opinions about my opinions.
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