“Clint Eastwood Collections” by Leader K

Leader K


For anyone who wants to get into westerns let me say there are more than enough Clint Eastwood films out in the world that will help decide on what is the “best” western of all time without having to mention any other, (of course the same could be said in the case for Sturges, or Ford, or hawks, as all have built their own library of work). With these four films you might just find one of you favorite movies like I did. All four were made between 1964 and 1968 almost back to back for those involved specially Eastwood who’s rise to fame began with these four westerns. The first three are the famous Dollar’s Trilogy directed by Sergio Leone where Eastwood plays The Man with no Name, a smart, incomparable gunfighter who makes his way through the west as a sometimes hero, sometimes scam artist, always badass. The fourth is Hang ’em High a revisionist western mirroring some the real life “Hanging Judge” and some vary real moral dilemmas.
If you want some of the most notable Westerns with one of the most notable actors of all time, you want this set. So as not to just stand here and bleed, let’s skin this smoke wagon! (its a reference, i’m sorry i’ve always wanted to say that)

A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood ,Gian Maria Volontè, José Calvo


The Western and Samurai genres are brethren, different to only the most superficial of standards. Many westerns were remakes of japan’s popular samurai flicks, and many samurai movies were inspired by the old west old folk-tales. The most famous example is The Magnificent Seven based on Akira Kurosowa’s Seven samurai. The second most famous is A Fistful of Dollars, also a remake of another Kurosowa film; Yojimbo, which was itself inspired by a detective novel; Red harvest.
In fact Kurosowa’s and Leone’s films were so similar, and Leone had not properly retained the rights to create his version, that Kurosowa decided to file a lawsuit against the Italian director saying something along the lines of “You’ve made a good film, but it is my film” he liked it but, sued on principle; winning. Leone didn’t mind losing the lawsuit as he was just happy Kurosowa gave the movie praise however backhanded it may be. Not so often are there two films that allow such perfect comparison.

The story goes that a stranger (the man with no name, Eastwood) happens upon a little mexican town run by two rival families where only the coffen-maker makes an honest living. As the stranger begins working for and against both groups he attempts to unravel both families with his cunning, intelligence, and skills as the best gun around, he reveals behind his brash behavior a great sense of justice and a natural joy in meddling. The premise has been retold countless times now but by the nature of the story a good amount of trickiness must be within the stories script from the get go, so the plot doesn’t seem as tired to a modern audience like may others do. (dances with wolves/Avatar)

So which is better? Well thats difficult to say. Yojimbo is funnier, more original in story (the hell you say!?), and the majority of the characters have more relevance where Leone skims through them, but there are plot point in the film that relay on to many coincidences’ and make you step back for a second, while not blurring but still irritating the suspension of disbelief.
A Fistful of Dollars on the other hand has more action, is less conventional in how its directed (especially with the score and camera work), and is much easier to receive if your not savvy on the old culture of japan, but it does has several cliches and tropes that draw unintentional laughter (“use a barrel-roll!” “O god! not a barrel!”). You should see both of course but the true distinguishing feature of Leone’s film is its main villain Ramón(Volonte) who nearly steals the movie and unlike his Yojimbo counterpart he seems a true threat, compared to the nearly unbeatable Toshiro mifune in Kurosowa’s film.

It was only a fistful of dollars by today’s standards that made A Fistful of Dollars (God i’m hilarious) but this is where it all starts, and like with all of these movies its worth double by itself the cost of all four together.

My rating: 2.5 out of 4

For a few Dollars More (1965)
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volontè, Lee Van Cleef


Here is where Leone steps it up and smacks you is the face with one of the best westerns you can watch. No longer could they say the man was an imitation, no longer! As a direct sequel to A Fistful, A Few Dollars More is one of the best sequels of all time. (I think so. In fact i know so.) Eastwood returns as The Man with no Name with a whole new group of enemies and a few new “friends”. Volontè returns to play the lead villain this time as “El Indio” (The Indian) one of the most dangerous outlaws of the era, a man as intelligent as he is passionate and again nearly takes the movie for himself. Van Cleef plays the Man in Black, a former soldier in the confederacy, a bounty hunter seeking revenge against El indio for an injustice committed years before having something to do with the dual musical pocket-watches the two men own. It is a memory that even the ruthless Indio tries to blur away. Eastwood and Cleef both after the same man join forces to take down El Indio’s gang and gain the 10,000 bounty for their foe’s head.
On the actors side of things the film is identical to its predecessor. Volontè is by far the best actor within a hundred miles of the set and just like A Fistful his role requires a wider range of emotion than any of the other leads. What i remember most about the film is his character and the best scenes involve him. There is a particular expression Indio gives when he, eastwood, and Cleef have their final showdown that lets you see astonishment, anger, insanity, regret, and acceptance all within one odd glare.
Eastwood and Cleef again, while being good actors in their own right have to do little more than be their own brand of straight talking badass’ most of the time. Its wonderful don’t get me wrong, but without Volontè as the lead villain the movie drops a whole star (hahaah STAR!). The far off and than close up camera styles of Leone are exploited more often and more aggressively and the score by the returning Ennio Morricone creates its own atmosphere giving the quiet and vastness of the west into its own personality. My favorite scene in the whole picture when El Indio duals a man who sent him to prison years before with the light but at the same time so heavy chimes of his pocket-watch. “When the chimes finish, begin.”

My rating: 3 out of 4

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (1966)
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach


The most well known, the most expensive, and the most stressful film to make out the Dollars Trilogy. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is often considered the landmark of what killed the classical western genre while at the same time rediscovering what the west was all about, sweat, dirt, and smoke. Our hero’s were just as much criminal as the men they hunted, our climatic shootouts were not a hail of bullets and glory but more like a long tens silence with one second of being the difference between who was right and who was wrong. Leone’s films celebrated and mocked all that came before and inspired all that came after. The good, the bad, and the ugly is one of my favorite films of all time. I love every second of it; every cuss, every quote, every gun fired, or bomb exploded. Style when done true creates substance, it turns the same posturing walk through the streets that we’ve seen hundreds of times before an unforgettable moment in film history.
Though not originally intended as a sequel by Leone everyone but the director has trumped the fat man on the matter. It is a prequel to a fistful of dollars, and if it isn’t, it should be. It is the film that ended the relationship of Eastwood and Leone, threatened the life of Wallach on a number of occasions (once involving acid, than a train, and also a horse), and Quentin Tarantino’s favorite film if that means anything to you.
Is the film perfect? Yes. Is it to long? yes. Is the dub terrible? yes. is it over the top and at times silly? yes. Is this film perfect? Yes! (don’t be a damned fool)
When it comes to Leone’s now famous style compared to the good, bad, and ugly, A Fistful is a small child who paints better than his friends, A few Dollars more is a teenager that gets an art scholarship, and The good, the bad, and the ugly is Nadir Afonso.
First we meet our boys; The Ugly: Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramírez (Wallach), a spiteful outlaw wanted for 2000$ at the films beginning. He is crafty, tough, and a fantastic gunslinger. The Bad: Angel Eyes (Van Cleef) both Revolver Ocelot and Solid Snake were based off the looks of this man, that should be enough right there, but there’s more. Angel Eyes is a man who always does his job if he’s paid no matter what the job, when he sets his deadly gaze upon the horizon the sun retreats in fear. Then there is of course The Good: Blondie (Eastwood) the deadliest gun between the three who teams with Tuco in a scam to turn the wanted man in for the reward only to save him, split the money, and get more the next time as his bounty increase for the next town. When Blondie leaves Tuco to die in the desert Tuco vows revenge and hunts Blondie down. In the process of all this the three men learn of $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sad Hill cemetery. Blondie learns the name of the grave, but doesn’t know how to get to the cemetery. Tuco knows how to get to the cemetery, but doesn’t know the grave. Again the bitter enemies must join forces to dig up the gold before Angel Eyes can get it for himself.

Eli Wallach like Volontè before him steals the show. The Ugly is the heart, the grit, and the humor of this movie. The plot is more like several short stories rolled into one only connecting because of who is in them, but because of this it all feels like an old wild west fable complete with its vary own Devil’s bridge. Our three main characters are mythical monsters in themselves so much so that the story could be called The Fox, The Wolf, and The Rat and not have to change in the least. The three men seem to understand in a very meta sense the importance they hold in the story; music sometimes takes over characters body language as if each one had their own theme that all could hear and understand. Only The Good, the Bad, or the Ugly can ever manage to shoot their foe because any lesser character doesn’t get to be on screen at the same time as the man he shoots at, only the stars ever get to see what it is they are shooting at. The way the film is directed would have you believe that camera is the all seeing eye and anyone not in its view is shooting in the dark. Like rock, paper, scissors, only these three men can kill each other, if they had never met they would live for all eternity roaming their own corners of the great west. At least thats what i got out of it.

My rating: 4 out of 4

Hang ’em High (1968)
Director: Ted Post
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Pat Hingel


When Jed Cooper (Eastwood) is mistaken for as murderer a vigilante posse hangs him on the spot. Cooper survives and takes a job as a U.S. marshal to arrest the men who although regretful for their actions will not go down without a fight. As he brings in more and more men to be hang by laws with no justice Cooper begins to question his the morality of what he does.

While still being a far more conventional western than the previous three in this collection Hang ’em High is coming straight off the international fame of the Dollars Trilogy so it is unavoidable that it should still have a little of that Spaghetti flare with a more Hollywood atmosphere. The first film made under Eastwood’s new production company and beating the James Bond movies in the box office, Hang em High is a fantastic western, but as a revisionist western it is dated.
As with most Hollywood films back then there are a many few soapbox speeches that while delivered well are still distracting for a modern viewer. People seem to act out the plot rather than the story if you get my drift. Beatable arguments are countered with dead air so the plot can believe there is no refutation. But this isn’t about politics its about movies and this is a good one, but its not quite the art that Leone’s films were. Hang em high is more akin to movies like Fury, or I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, as the driving force of the script it to make a social statement rather than make a good story. If it weren’t so well done it would be crap.
The moral issue here stems from The Judge in this film (Pat Hingel) being the only judge in the territory thus to keep from chaos he must strike with uncompromising force to all crimes in a era where grand theft cattle got you capital punishment. The best parts of this movie are of course Eastwood hunting after the men who hanged him and seeing those men’s fear a sorrow for what they have done.
It may all feel dated and slow at times but its definitely worth watching.

My rating: 2.5 out of 4

Other good westerns you should see.
*True Grit
*The Searchers
*The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
*The Magnificent Seven
*Young Guns (just try it)
*Once upon a time in the west
*Rio Bravo
*Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
*No country for old men


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