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Based on 7 critic reviews provided by
Leone makes the borders of the frame feel limitless, his camera moves striking out unpredictably as if he could barely tame his vision. Ennio Moriconne’s indelible score added a wild swagger to this oddball tale of a lone guman conniving plan to set two gangs of killers against one another.
This is a hard-hitting item, ably directed, splendidly lensed, neatly acted, which has all the ingredients wanted by action fans and then some.
Time Out London
Based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, it sets a fashion in surly, laconic, supercool heroes with Eastwood's amoral gunslinger, who plays off two gangs against one another in a deadly feud.
Clearly, the magnet of this picture, which has been a phenomenal success in Italy and other parts of Europe, is this cool-cat bandit who is played by Clint Eastwood, an American cowboy actor who used to do the role of rowdy in the Rawhide series on TV. Wearing a Mexican poncho, gnawing a stub of cheroot and peering intently from under a slouch hat pulled low over his eyes, he is simply another fabrication of a personality, half cowboy and half gangster, going through the ritualistic postures and exercises of each.
The plot is simple and the Italian performances verge on the operatic, but Leone revitalizes the Western through a unique and complex visual style. The film is full of brilliant spatial relationships (extreme close-ups in the foreground, with detailed compositions visible in the background) combined with Ennio Morricone's vastly creative musical score full of grunts, wails, groans, and bizarre-sounding instruments. Aural and visual elements together give a wholly original perspective on the West and its myths.
The visual scheme of Leone’s movie leaves no doubt as to his familiarity with Kurosawa’s movie. Plopping Eastwood’s roving gunman down in the middle of a dusty street with opposing gangs lodged at either end, Fistful replicates Yojimbo’s visual plan to an almost distracting extent. The bigger problem with Fistful is that Leone is still attempting to work with a conventional plot, which never plays to his strengths.
Actor Eastwood, the sometime star of television's Rawhide, is certainly not paid by the word. In Fistful he hardly talks at all. Doesn't shave, either. Just drawls orders. Sometimes the bad guys drawl back. Just as tersely. Trouble is, after they stop talking, their lips keep moving. That's because the picture is dubbed. Like the villains, it was shot in Spain. Pity it wasn't buried there.

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