Dead for a Dollar

Dead for a Dollar ★★★★

Dead for a Dollar is dedicated to Budd Boetticher, but it feels closer in spirit to Randolph Scott Andre de Toth movies which were usually busier and make him more of a lawman in tight position. It has a very 50s B movie lean quality to it, there have not been a western by a known filmmaker with so little artier pretensions in over five decades (including Hill’s own early stabs at the genre). Dead for a Dollar is very happy to be the story of a moral man forced to deal with how doing the right thing for others is more than the letter of the law, a very classic western theme. It is remarkable good at playing into current material in a way that is honest to its period setting without ever indulging into any sadism.  The movie is a little busy, Dafoe character in particular feels like a holdover from Hill’s favorite hunter/hunted theme that exists outside the movie, although he is very fun. A rare movie when every meaningful character almost always do the right choice. It is a very cheap movie, very spare, no lively period detail and the digital cinematography can feel shallow (but I’m fine with the brown look that seems to annoy some). Save from the late point those seen like virtues as it adds the essential quality that always serves the genre. The shootouts are quick, but weightier and almost everyone in the cast is very good, in particular Waltz. As an act of reclaiming certain fiction form in a way that make its past count without sinking into fetish this is remarkable assured.

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