The Legend of Clint Eastwood
A Fistful of Dollars, 1964
The Italian "spaghetti" western was really born in Japan. Akira Kurosawa's 1961 Yojimbo starred Toshiro Mifune as a solitary samurai who ambles into a rotten town commandeered by rival malefactors and takes both gangs down. Sergio Leone filched the Yojimbo plot, paid Eastwood $15,000 to play the lead, gave him a poncho and a cigar stub as props and called his movie Per un pugni di dollari A Fistful of Dollars in the U.S. Clint established a new mode: the Angel of Death as hero. The good guy was the one with the fastest gun, the meanest scowl and top billing. Plus that perpetual three-day beard (which Mifune had worn in Yojimbo). Eastwood's scruff became a fashion statement that lives on; more important, he and Leone twisted, and made, movie history.