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A Fistful of Dynamite

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A late reaction against idealistic ‘political’ Westerns set during the Mexican Revolution, and a statement about Leone’s own disillusionment with Italian politics, this was originally to have been directed by Peter Bogdanovich with Leone as producer. Leone said he had ‘fallen out of love with the things associated with the West’. But he was persuaded to direct late in the day, and Dynamite introduced a more subtle human relationship than before – between Rod Steiger’s anarchic Mexican peasant and James Coburn’s cynical Irish revolutionary. ‘At the heart of the film, and my essential motivation, was the theme of friendship which is so dear to me,’ said Leone. ‘You have two men: one naive and one intellectual (self-centred as intellectuals too often are in the face of the naive). From there, the film becomes the story of Pygmalion reversed. The simple one teaches the intellectual a lesson. Nature gains the upper hand and finally the intellectual throws away his book of Bakunin’s writings. You suspect damn well that this gesture is a symbolic reference to everything my generation has been told in the way of promises.’

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