Friday, April 4, 2008

A Very Special Fistful of Dollars

I recently saw this American prologue that was added to my least favorite Sergio Leone film, A Fistful of Dollars, in 1977 so they could play the film on TV. The idea was that Joe's (aka Manco, aka Blondie, aka The Man With No Name) mercenary behavior was too unprovoked and thus immoral. So they gave him a little more back story.

At first I laughed at the poorly conceived prologue, directed by Monte Hellman, and how it would completely compromise the whole film. But then I realized: To make the film more "moral," the censors made Joe a man on death row who was sent by the government to kill everyone in the entire town deliberately. Subversive? Just inept? I'll never know. But I do have to give props to Harry Dean Stanton for carrying the scene pretty much by himself and getting no help from the Eastwood stand-in.

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