Combustible Celluloid Review - A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone, James Coburn, Rod Steiger, Maria Monti, Rick Battaglia, Franco Graziosi, Romolo Valli, Antoine Saint-John
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With: James Coburn, Rod Steiger, Maria Monti, Rick Battaglia, Franco Graziosi, Romolo Valli, Antoine Saint-John
Written by: Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni
Directed by: Sergio Leone
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 157
Date: 10/19/1971

A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Outtasite 'Dynamite'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It took many years for Sergio Leone's Duck You Sucker, a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) to make its American DVD debut, but it's here at last. Rod Steiger stars as a Mexican bandit, Juan Miranda, who meets up with an Irish explosives expert, John H. Mallory (James Coburn). It's the Mexican Revolution, and one man wishes to help out while the other wishes to help himself. Once again, Leone presents a complex hero and villain who must rely on each other for help.

Opening with a stream of urine hitting an anthill, this is Leone's most overtly political film; he seems too worried about the quality of his opinions to make sure the film moves properly. And though both actors are excellent, it's distracting to see them portraying other cultures. Steiger reminded me of Charlton Heston's Mexican cop in Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958) and Coburn's Irish accent reminded me of Welles in The Lady from Shanghai (1948).

Regardless, Leone's genius is clearly on display here, and it's a near-great film. Morricone provides arguably his most bizarre score.

Kino Lorber has now inherited what was once an MGM title and given it a fresh Blu-ray release for 2018, going with the replacement title A Fistful of Dynamite, rather than the loose translation of the Italian title, Duck, You Sucker!. It's a pretty grungy-looking movie, but the transfer is fine, and Morricone's music blares mightily from the soundtrack. The disc includes two scholarly commentary tracks, one by filmmaker Alex Cox and another by historian Sir Christopher Frayling. There are several featurettes, including one helpful one called "Sorting Out the Versions," plus a "Trailers from Hell" episode, image galleries (one B&W and one color), radio spots, and trailers for this and four other Leone films.

In 2024, Kino Lorber released an updated Blu-ray. I can't say whether it's a new transfer or not. (I'm guessing not.) The extras look to be about the same as well. In any case, whether you have the 2018 release or are going to pick up this new one, it's Recommended.

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