A landmark film that established the Clint Eastwood persona and put the spaghetti Western on the international map.
The story – lifted from Dashiell Hammett's novel 'Red Harvest' by way of Kurosawa's Yojimbo – has Eastwood, as the mysterious Man With No Name, riding into a small town embroiled in a struggle for power between two families. He hires himself out as a mercenary, first to one faction and then to the other, with no regard for honour or morality.
The plot is simple and some of the Italian performances (dubbed into English) verge on the operatic, but Leone revitalises the Western genre through a unique and complex visual style.
The film is full of brilliant spatial relationships (extreme close-ups in the foreground, with detailed compositions visible in the background) combined with Ennio Morricone's vastly creative musical score full of grunts, wails, groans, and bizarre-sounding instruments. Aural and visual elements together give a wholly original perspective on the West and its myths.