A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS at 50: The Impact of the Spaghetti Western
Presentation by Bill Shaffer
As part of the Marian D. Cook Series, Cloud County Community College in Concordia will host “A Fistful of Dollars at 50: The Impact of Spaghetti Westerns,” a presentation and discussion by Bill Shaffer on February 3 at 7:00 p.m., in Cloud County Community College’s Cook Theatre, 2221 Campus Drive in Concordia.
In 1964, a low-budget Italian western movie slipped into production on the coat-tails of another Italian film (which is now long forgotten). At the time, it was expected to do a little business on the theatrical circuit in Italy and disappear. Even its star, the young and little-known Clint Eastwood had mixed feelings about it. “Either it would be very successful or no one would ever see it and it’s usually the latter”, he is quoted as saying, but this little western became a surprise hit in its native Italy. It later achieved greater success across Europe a year later and eventually in the United States just over two years after that.
Leone had wanted a major American star to headline this production and he tried to get Henry Fonda and later Charles Bronson, but neither would even look at the script. Eastwood was on a list of TV actors recommended to the director by another American TV performer who had been offered the part, Ty Hardin. Eastwood was to be on break from the TV series, “Rawhide” in which he had the second lead and liked the idea of a trip to Europe as a kind of summer vacation.
What he learned in the process was a fascinating exercise in European film production - the language barrier, the very concept of shooting a western (or any other Italian movie at the time) without sound recording on location or in the studio and the process of making a film as a co-production between three different film companies located in three different countries – Italy, Spain and Germany. Finally, there was the problem of ‘lifting’ the story for this particular western from another movie – a very successful Japanese samurai film called YOJIMBO made in 1960.
However, nobody argues with success and A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS in any language was a definite success. This presentation will examine in detail the production of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (now a fifty-year-old classic) as seen through the eyes of its star and director. What sort of impact has it had on the Western genre (then and now), how significant has the music for this film become and is this film to be considered a ‘game changer’ in Italian and World Cinema.
This presentation will take place at Cloud County Community College’s Cook Theatre in Concordia on Tuesday evening, February 3, at 7:00 pm.
All Cook Series events are free and open to the public. Contact the college at 785-243-1435 for more information.