Clint Eastwood described this film as ''a James Bond Western''

This movie took Eastwood from peanuts to power.

CBS Television Distribution

It's hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Clint Eastwood was just the guy who played Rowdy Yates on Rawhide. The bonafide international superstar hadn't yet crossed into the mainstream consciousness in 1964. If American audiences recognized him, it was as the lanky cowpoke who wasn't even top-billed on his show.

But everything changed with an Italian-German-Spanish co-production called A Fistful of Dollars. Suddenly, Eastwood was a European celebrity, and his star outshined his stateside television image. Eventually, with the movie's American theatrical release, viewers in the US had the chance to catch up to the overseas rave reviews. 

Here's a surprising factoid: Even though it was Eastwood's best-received work of his career thus far, he wasn't paid much to appear in A Fistful of Dollars. 

"In fact," Eastwood told the Associated Press in '64, "I did it for peanuts, less than I get for Rawhide. I just liked the script. It's so far out that I guess you could call it a James Bond Western. I'm supposed to be the hero, but there's only a thin line between me and the heavy."

The movie was the first of three movies later dubbed the Dollars trilogy. Along with its sequels For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, this movie completely revolutionized the idea of the Western hero. No longer was the protagonist restrained by the forthright John Wayne style of heroism. Now, Eastwood and his conspirators ushered in the era of the anti-hero.

"I kill 5 people in the movie and end up by burning down the whole town. I'm no Sir Galahad like Shane. I'm on a 28-year-old horse and I look like a refugee hermit. I settle all arguments with gunfire. I think I do one good deed in the whole picture."

The movie set itself apart from other Westerns immediately, even in the planning stages.

"When I read the script, I told the director and producers that either this picture is the greatest flop of all time— or else it's the best Western satire yet. I played it as satire, a little tongue-in-cheek. Apparently, we succeded in Italy, at least. They're sharp audiences." 

Watch Rawhide on MeTV!

Saturdays at 3 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

14 Comments

texasluva 8 days ago
Not only back in Rawhide but also one of his first movies Revenge of the Creature, Francis in the Navy (a talking mule, come on) and Tarantula (1955). You only heard his voice as the Jet Squadron Leader willing and ready to take down the giant Theraphosidae via the jet which he appeared to fly. Later came the Italian Spaghetti Westerns. Along came Dirty Harry series and other greats. Later appearing in one of the best flicks of all time Unforgiven (1992). HIs directing skills came into his 90's. Only to make our Day(s) and years of entertainment. I have many of his films.
BenSobeleone texasluva 7 days ago
Hang 'Em High was a good Western for Eastwood. Great cast! Dennis Hopper was in one scene just for a few minutes. Seen him today on the first episode of The Rifleman on MeTV. Mark Lenard from Star Trek was also in this movie for the courtroom scene.
texasluva BenSobeleone 7 days ago
I like the part when he catches up to Bruce Dern (Miller) and the other two. Dern is good at playing such a seedy character and I could not wait to see Clint bring him in one way or another. Even in 2015 Bruce played a despicable General from the Civil War in The Hateful Eight. Though many villains he also played the hero type in others. I liked him in a lot movies for characters he played. Family Plot (Hitchcock film) was good. Clint though was the bomb. Except his last movie Cry Macho I can't think of many that I would not wish to watch. Maybe it's finally time to hang em up. Grand Torino so good and The Mule not bad would have been a great ending. Basically 70 years of greatness.
BenSobeleone texasluva 7 days ago
Bruce Dern played another villain in the Western movie Will Penny with Charlton Heston. Heston said of all the movies that he was in, that one was his favorite. A few on my favorite Eastwood movies from his later years are In the Line of Fire and Absolute Power.
texasluva BenSobeleone 3 days ago
Good choices. I have all 3 of those downloaded. Will Penny is at a cabin in the wilderness with a woman he is helping out. Attacked by a clan of wackos. In the line of fire he's to protect the President from a lunatic. Absolute power he is a top thief and sees the President (Gene Hackman) kill a woman through the one way glass. Which also hides a lot of valuables. All Thrillers
tootsieg 8 days ago
The Dollar movies are the best.
Thanks for the fun article.
sjbang88 9 days ago
The Dollars movies were/are classics, especially The Good The Bad and The Ugly
BenSobeleone sjbang88 7 days ago
I watched the special edition of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly where they showed scenes that were previously deleted. They had different actors dub in the voices for Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef in those deleted scenes but Eli Wallach did his own voice work for those deleted scenes. You can tell that his voice sounded much older.
BrittReid 9 days ago
Did he fire six shots or only five?
raddad BrittReid 8 days ago
I gots ta know !
texasluva raddad 8 days ago
---Click--- 😉
BenSobeleone texasluva 5 days ago
"Good morning, Horace."
"Sweet Sister Sadie, where the hell did you get that?"
Runeshaper 9 days ago
The Dollars trilogy ROCKS! Clint redefined the "good guy" in those movies so it was revolutionary, IMO.

Props to the sharp Italian audiences.
JHP 9 days ago
my fav flick actor case closed
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?