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A Fistful of Dollars Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 11+

Guns galore in intro "spaghetti Western" serving.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is more violent than many of the Hollywood Westerns that preceded it -- though ones that came after were worse. Lots of men (and one woman) die, even if we don't see bullets leaving exit woods. A little boy is tormented by being fired at (but not hit) by bullies, and the hero suffers an excruciating beating. One character uses a plate of metal under his poncho as an effective bulletproof vest -- a real don't-try-this-at-home detail.

  • Families can talk about why the nameless Clint Eastwood character caused such a ruckus in the 1960s. Is the Man With No Name truly "amoral," as many commentators have called him? What are his motives? Is it a clue when he tells a family he's rescuing that he knew someone who needed help once, when no help came? You can use this movie to get kids interested in the Japanese classic it remakes, Yojimbo.

The good stuff
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    Messages: Though the Man With No Name cleans up the town of all its criminal elements (and he goes out of his way to protect their innocent victims), the character's ruthless attitude, avarice, and easy way with a gun made even TV networks uneasy in the 1960s. Most of the supporting characters are supposed to Mexican (but are played by a melange of Europeans).

What to watch for
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    Violence: Lots and lots and lots of shooting, with six guns, rifles (and a machine gun). There's no blood, but plenty of bodies. Another man killed with a flung knife. There is a firebombing, and characters are tortured with severe beatings. Eastwood strikes a woman unconscious by mistake.

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    Sex: A married woman is held hostage by a murderous suitor, but he doesn't lay a finger on her.

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    Language: Villains told to go to hell.

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    Consumerism: Not an issue

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    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Saloon drinking, and Eastwood and others have cigarettes clenched in their teeth a lot of the time.