Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1h 36m
The first instalment in Sergio Leone's ground-breaking trilogy, which popularised the Spaghetti Western and sculpted Clint Eastwood into an icon.
Taking its plot from both the classic Akira Kurosawa samurai film Yojimbo and the Dashiell Hammet crime novel Red Harvest, the film sees Eastwood's taciturn and enigmatic "Man With No Name" (or, as he is credited in this film, "Joe") ride into a dishevelled Mexican town sought by two rival families.
Seeing a way to profit from the chaos, Joe pretends to side with both families, tipping the situation into outright warfare with explosive consequences. Despite being the shortest and the cheapest of the trilogy, Leone enlivens his shabby Spanish locations and limited resources with a tense, economical style.
Blunt, unpolished character exchanges alternate with extended, electric standoffs, which are given an operatic grandeur by Ennio Morricone's score.
Like its legendary hero, the film remains austere and stoic, but sharp and devastating.
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