In Mexico at the time of the Revolution, Juan, the leader of a bandit family, meets John Mallory, an IRA explosives expert on the run from the British. Seeing John's skill with explosives, Juan decides to persuade him to join the bandits in a raid on the great bank of Mesa Verde. John in the meantime has made contact with the revolutionaries, and intends to use his dynamite in their service. Written by
Another Sergio Leone masterpiece... Duck You Sucker!!!
A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE aka DUCK YOU SUCKER (5 outta 5 stars)
I think this is Sergio Leone's third greatest movie... right after Once Upon a Time in the West and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Most Leone fans rank this film a lot lower... but I think that's because they are only familiar with the shortened two hour version. Also, for the record, I absolutely loathe the re-titling... A Fistful of Dynamite... how lame! At least the original Leone title, Duck You Sucker was... distinctive. Even the French title (translation: Once Upon a Time... The Revolution) is kinda classy. But AFOD??? Gimme a break! This movie has absolutely nothing to do with A Fistful of Dollars so why even try to make the comparison?
Anyway, I loved this movie when I first saw it in the theatre in 1972 (age 12). I am pretty sure that what we saw at the time was the lengthy, uncut version... and I don't remember being bored at all. (The most common complaint about this movie is that it is slow and boring... heck, that's the most common complaint about EVERY Leone movie.) Rod Steiger and James Coburn play Sean and Juan, respectively a poor Mexican bandit and a fugitive Irish terrorist... who meet up in Mexico and become involved (against their wills) with revolutionary warfare in that struggling country. The movie is exciting, funny, dramatic, suspenseful and, well, just plain brilliant. This is Ennio Morricone's greatest film score and the way it meshes with Leone's visuals is simply amazing... particularly in my favourite scene... the bank heist. Juan and his young sons break into the Bank of Mexico, shoot it out with the guards and go from door to door, searching for gold and finding only political prisoners, until finally... oh, I can't give it away! See it for yourself. This is a movie filled with classic scenes: Coburn's arrival on the "motorsickle" and his confrontation with Steiger's gang... Steiger and Coburn with their machine guns... Steiger's final act of vengeance (which is severely chopped to bits in the short version... robbing it of its vicious power). Its been said that Steiger's comical accent is stereotypical and insulting... but I say NO! He is playing one of the richest and most complex characters of his career... with some of his greatest speeches ("And what happens to the poor people? They are DEAD!"). Not to slight James Coburn, who also does a fantastic job, but Steiger is the star of this one.
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