Based on the Edward Bulwer-Lytton novel. Set in the shadows of Mt. Vesuvius just before its famous eruption, the film begins with Glaucus, a Roman legionnaire, returning to his home from ... See full summary »
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
Sergio Leone offered the role of Juan Miranda to Eli Wallach, but Wallach had already committed to another project. After Leone begged Wallach to play the part, he dropped out of the other project and told Leone he'd do his movie. However, the studio already had Rod Steiger signed. Leone offered no compensation to Wallach, and Wallach subsequently sued. See more »
A close-on shot of one of the convoy's trucks as it rolls through mud shows a modern pneumatic tire and wheel. See more »
[one of Juan's sons has just fired a pistol into the air]
How many times have I told you, Chulo? No shooting unless papa pulls the trigger!
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A Fistful of Dynamite is often seen as the black sheep of Sergio Leone's commercial releases; and there's a good reason for that, as despite the fact that it's still a spaghetti western; it's a completely different kettle of fish to both the Dollars Trilogy and Once Upon a Time in the West. A Fistful of Dollars features common western themes such as bandits, guns and bank robberies - but, as he did with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly; Sergio Leone has implanted war themes into the plot, and we've also got the bizarre idea of one of the major characters being an IRA bomber! All this stuff doesn't quite come together cleanly, and as the tone of the movie changes often; it seems obvious that Leone has bitten off a bit more than he can chew...but luckily enough, A Fistful of Dynamite remains a fun movie for most of its duration. The plot follows a bandit named Juan, who bumps into a dynamite-laded bomber one day in the desert. Spotting an opportunity for robbery, he manages to recruit the IRA man to his cause; but he doesn't count on being dragged into the revolution that's going on at the same time.
The first half of the movie features some very astute elements of tongue-in-cheek humour, and it seems obvious that the director isn't intending the plot to be completely serious. However, at around the halfway point; the movie turns in completely the opposite direction, and the fun and silly first half gives way to a more deep and serious finale. For me, this is the movie's main problem; I like a movie that's unpredictable, but this change in plot feels disjointed and doesn't go down well. The second half of the film isn't as enjoyable to watch either, which harms the fun. However, Sergio Leone's direction is as impressive as ever, with some lovely wide angle shots capturing the beautiful landscapes; while, of course, Leone enjoys giving full focus to his actors for some extreme close-ups. Like the movie, the cast is a mixed bag. James Coburn looks the part, but his silly put-on accent makes him feel like he's having a laugh at times; and similarly, Rod Steiger dons an arguably even sillier accent and doesn't quite get away with it. Overall, A Fistful of Dynamite is not a film to please all viewers. I found it to be enjoyable despite many niggles, but I can understand why a lot of people disagree.
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