"One of the most iconic title sequences ever made. A Fistful of Dollars (original Italian title: Per un Pugno di Dollari) was the first spaghetti western to gain widespread international recognition. After the film's initial release in Italy, it took three years until the film was released in the US, but Sergio Leone's revolutionary take on the western would ultimately change the genre altogether, as well as catapult the careers of Leone, main actor Clint Eastwood, and composer Ennio Morricone, whose enigmatic score still resonates today.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) was the first film in Sergio Leone's 'Dollars' trilogy that also includes For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). The opening title sequences for these three films were made by Italian graphic designer Iginio Lardani. Unlike Leone, Eastwood, and Morricone, Lardani did not win a one–way ticket to stardom. The designer who created one of the most iconic film title title sequences of the 20th Century, and whose bold, graphic, pop art–inspired main titles continue to inspire designers, animators and filmmakers today (see for instance Paul Donnellon's opening titles for Smokin' Aces), remains relatively unknown outside the Italian film industry.
Iginio Lardani passed away in 1986, but his son Alberto Lardani told me this anecdote: 'Sergio Leone's reaction when he first saw the title sequence for 'Per un Pugno di Dollari' was of great gratitude. Not only for its extraordinary iconic impact but also because it was designed for free.'"
(Remco Vlaanderen, 14 July 2011, WatchTheTitles)
"John Sturges is a rather curious case in Hollywood history: a director responsible for a trio of extremely famous films, films whose titles have all but entered the language (Gunfight at the OK Corral, The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape) but with whose own name only specialists are conversant."
(The Independent, 24 August 1992)
Fig.1 Intro to "Gunfight at the O. K. Corral" by John Sturges starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. Soundtrack "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral", lyrics by Ned Washington, music by Dimitri Tiomkin, performed by Frankie Laine: Ok corral ok corral; there the outlaw band make their final stand; ok corral; oh my dearest one must die; lay down my gun or take the chance of losing you forever; duty calls; my backs against the wall; have you no kind word to say; before i ride away; away; Your love your love; i need; your love; Keep the flame let it burn; until i return; from the gunfight at ok corral; if the lord is my friend; we'll meet at the end; Of the gunfight at ok corral; gunfight at ok corral; Boot hill Boot hill; so cold so still; There they lay side by side; the killers that died; in the gunfight at ok corral; ok corral; gunfight at ok corral.
"Epic story of a mysterious stranger with a harmonica who joins forces with a notorious desperado to protect a beautiful widow from a ruthless assassin working for the railroad."
Fig.1 Sergio Leone (1968). "Once Upon a Time in the West"
[See from this point for a good example of film flashback to explain backstory, where Charles Bronson's character reveals a moment from his past. The exposition provides a direct way of adding context and meaning to current situation.]
"Running throughout our essay as its leitmotif is the opposition between the claustrophobic spaces of German modernity (epitomized in Expressionist cinema and in the noir films directed by Germans in Hollywood) and the agoraphobic fear of wide open spaces, exemplified by post–war American space (suburbia and the urban "superblock") and by the post–war film genres of the western and the road movie. Lacking a frontier myth, Germans fantasized about an expansive sense of space and dreaded a claustrophobic one. By contrast, the American cinema developed a morbid fear of open spaces devoid of human community and fantasized about the possibility of a tightly–knit urban community."
(Ed Dimendberg and Anton Kaes)
I created this short clip in 1995 from re–purposed shots from Fritz Lang's 1952 film 'Rancho Notorious'. This sequence works to expose homoerotic tensions inherent in the Western film genre.
The sequence shows Vern Haskell (Arthur Kennedy) Rancho Notorious' protagonist, struggle to 'escape the frame' and the admiring advances of his outlaw compatriots - Frenchy Fairmont (Mel Ferrer), Mort Geary (Jack Elam), Kinch (Lloyd Gough), Wilson (George Reeves), Starr (Stuart Randall), Red (Roger Anderson) et al. Through deleting the subject of the cowboy's attentions Marlene Dietrich, I was able to shift the meaning of the scene from one that centred on heterosexual interest to one that centred on homosexual desire.
I created the sound track using a similar technique. I did so through splicing sections of the original sound track together so that it would evoke some of the melodrama of the original film.
The clip was created using the early non–linear editing platform Avid Media Suite Pro.
Fig.1 Simon Perkins (1995). 'Wranglers' digitised and cut–up VHS video, 3:21 minutes.