Packed with sticks of dynamite, the Irish rebel and explosives expert, John H. Mallory, finds himself in Revolution-torn 1913 Mexico, on the run from the British government. Riding a dusty, V-twin Indian motorcycle, John crosses paths with the short-fused Mexican bandit, Juan Miranda, and his gun-toting family of outlaws, and before long, his expertise in explosives becomes evident. Now, bent on putting Mallory's skills to good use, devious Juan forms an uneasy partnership with John to rob the impregnable Mesa Verde National Bank. Instead, what seemed like an unmissable opportunity to get rich will become a trap, enmeshing the unlikely duo in the Revolution, having no other choice but to fight together with the troops of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata against the evil Colonel Günther Reza. Can John's dynamite get them out of the tight spot?Written by
The second (and arguably lesser-known) installment in Sergio Leone's unofficial "Once Upon a Time Trilogy", which started with Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and ended with Once Upon a Time in America (1984). After completing the Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)), Leone wanted to make Once Upon a Time in America, but studios wouldn't finance the project until he made another western for them. Ideas for Duck You Sucker (1971) started to be developed during the making of Once Upon a Time in the West, so eventually, Leone decided to make it part of another trilogy, about "three historical periods which toughened America". He originally wanted to name the second installment "Once Upon a Time... The Revolution", before it was changed into "Giù la testa" (Past The Head). Internationally, the film was released as "A Fistful of Dynamite" or "Duck You Sucker" (depending on territory). See more »
In the train, the automatic pistol that Juan Miranda uses is a Browning GP35. As its names suggests, this model has become available in 1935 (so contemporary of the mentioned MG42). See more »
Antoine Saint-John is credited as 'Dominigo Antoine' on Italian prints, while English prints refer to him as 'Jean Michel Antoine'. 'Vivienne Maya' and David Warbeck are not credited for playing John's girlfriend and Nolan respectively on Italian prints, but are credited on English prints in that order. See more »
The new 5.1 remix of the soundtrack on the restored Region 2 Special Edition release uses incorrect music cues for several scenes including the restored long flashback scene at the end, and edits out two expletives, one is uttered by Juan while talking to himself before attacking the bridge, the other spoken by John on the train. Both of these are intact in all other restored versions. The title of the restored version is now "Duck You Sucker" while the title on the cover remains "A Fistful of Dynamite". See more »
Coming off the triumphs of his "Man With No Name" series and his frustrations with the cutting of "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" and "Once Upon a Time in the West," Sergio Leone directed the big budget, epic western, originally titled, "Once Upon a Time in the Revolution". Since "...West" had been released by Paramount and United Artists was releasing "...Revolution," some executive decide the rename the movie "Duck! You Sucker!" after the phrase Sean (James Coburn) uses repeatedly before blowing someone or something up with dynamite. Likely the same executive choose an advertising campaign reminiscent of "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," creating caricatures of Sean and Juan (Rod Steiger) adding the caption "...the master of adventure, Sergio Leone". Well, I doubt many theater audiences knew who Sergio Leone was, since he was yet to be recognized as a directoral genius the equal of John Ford or Howard Hawks. Worse, the advertising implied "Duck! You Sucker! was a laugh romp, a parody of Leone's early masterpieces. This impression was made even worse when the film failed to perform. In any event, "A Fistfull of Dyanmite" was a dismal failure at the box office and Leone never made another big budget western drama.It's too bad, because "A Fistfull of Dynamite" is Leone's trueist work, his most accurate vision of life, politics and revolution. Neither Rod Steiger nor James Coburn were strongly associated with westerns, even though both played strong roles in earlier films (Steiger in "Run of the Arrow" and "Jubal," Coburn in "The Magnificent Seven" and "Ride Lonesome". Worse, Steiger's Juan looked like something of a buffoon and the movies villains were bland and underdeveloped. However, I believe this was Leone's intention: corrupt politicians and Prussian officers are pretty well interchangeable. Kill one and another pops up. This isn't a very satisfying truth, but it is truth, nonetheless. Juan is a peasant, a bandit with a large family of bandits. Sean is a Irish Republican Army terrorist, an explosives expert. In Leone's world, or at least in all his films, there are only two types of people: predators and victims. His major characters are all predators. The only thing that distinguishes his protagonists from his antagonists is that his antagonists start with a large body count and his protagonists usually spare the innocent. That works with a taut enough storyline, but "...Dynamite" covers large areas of real estate and the goal is never clear. Juan didn't plan to become a hero of the revolution, and that is small payment for his losses. When one looks at history, the rewards of revolution and warfare are never worth the sacrifices, for just as we kill one bastard, another takes his place.
I think "A Fistfull of Dynamite" largely reflects Leone's fate as well. Leone proved he was the greatest western director in less than four years with only four major films. Yet, he was hardly appreciated during his short life and only a few films after his magnificent achievement. "A Fistfull of Dynamite" is also Leone's saddest movie. A beautiful, big budget metaphor for a man's talent wasted by underappreciate film executive and smug, self-serving critics.
Coburn should have won an "Oscar" for "Dynamite." With the exception of some tabletop model trains, the effects are convincing and exciting. The color cinematography is phenomenal, clearly the equal of "Once Upon a Time in the West. The sound and music (by Ennio Morricone) is phenomenal, as usual. While not as satisfying as Leone's best films, "A Fistfull of Dynamite" is an exemplary film. I give it a "9".
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