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A Fistful of Dollars

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A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari, lit. ‘For a Fistful of Dollars’) is a 1964 Spaghetti Western film directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role, alongside Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch, W. Lukschy, S. Rupp, Jose Calvo, Antonio Prieto, and Joe Egger. The film, a collaboration between Italy, West Germany, and Spain, was made on a shoestring budget (reportedly $200,000), and Eastwood was paid $15,000 for his performance.

It popularized the Spaghetti Western genre when it was released in Italy in 1964 and subsequently in the United States in 1967. Following it was For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, both starring Clint Eastwood. The films are known together as the “Dollars Trilogy,” or the “Man with No Name Trilogy,” because a United Artists promotional campaign referred to Eastwood’s character in all three films as the “Man with No Name.” All three pictures were ultimately released in the United States in order in 1967, catapulting Eastwood to stardom. The film has been recognized as an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961), which resulted in a successful lawsuit by Toho, the production company for Yojimbo.

Because there were few Spaghetti Westerns released in the United States at the time, several of the European actors and crew adopted American-sounding stage names. Leone (“Bob Robertson”), Gian Maria Volonté (“Johnny Wels”), and composer Ennio Morricone were among them (“Dan Savio”). A Fistful of Dollars was filmed in Spain, primarily at Hoyo de Manzanares near Madrid, but also in the Tabernas Desert and the Cabo de Gata-Njar Natural Park, both in the province of Almera.

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