I returned the Road to Perdition graphic novel to the Oldham County Public Library yesterday and rummaged around for a few things. I left with A Fistful of Dollars on DVD, Bruce Springsteen's The Promise on CD, the first volume of The Walking Dead collected editions and the Stephen Mitchell English translation of Lao-tzu's Tao te Ching. I found it a seemingly eclectic, yet actually thematically unified, assortment.
This was my first time viewing A Fistful of Dollars. All I knew going in was that Clint Eastwood plays The Man with No Name. I nearly watched the trailer first (it's the only bonus feature on the 2004 MGM DVD) but fortuitously I decided to wait until I had finished the feature. We complain about trailers today showing all the best parts and spoiling the end of movies, but this trailer makes it clear that boneheaded practice was in effect at least as far back as 1964.
In fact, my favorite part in the entire picture is presented in the trailer in a butchered form. The Man with No Name approaches the ruffians who had accosted him upon entering San Miguel and explains he's there representing his offended mule who seeks an apology. It was an endearing bit of levity that perfectly set up the payoff line, addressing the coffin maker whom he had instructed to prepare three coffins en route to the melee: "My mistake. Four coffins." That whole scene was pitch perfect, establishing the tongue-in-cheek/over-the-top machismo of the entire production.
Unfortunately, as the story wore on, I felt as though it tried to play things a little "straighter." Yes, death-by-barrel is suitably absurd and the final showdown (also spoiled in the trailer!) is outrageous but on the whole it began to resemble a predictable Western narrative. Of course, the story was taken from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo - which, in turn, was based on a 1929 novel, Red Harvest - so perhaps the problem for me was simply that I've seen too many other stories who took the same source inspiration.
Regardless, it was billed as an adventure and that's just what it is. The library also has A Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and I intend to make my way through the trilogy throughout the next few days.