Sunday, October 17, 2010


Giu la testa - Italian title
C’era una volt la rivoluzione - Italian title
Los Héroes de Mesa Verde - Argentinian title
Érase una vez la Revolución - Argentinian title
Quando explode a vingança - Brazilian title
Il était une fois la révolution - French Canadian title
Duk dig fjols - Danish title
Maahan, senkin hölmö! - Finnish title
Il était une fois... la révolution - French title
Todesmelodie - German title
Kato ta kefalia - Greek title
Garsc dynamitu - Polish title
Aguenta-te, canalha! - Portuguese title
Agáchate, maldito! - Spanish title
Ducka skitstovel - Swedish title
For hagra havar dynamit - Swedish title
Yabandan gelen adam - Turkish title
Sagni se naivcina - Yugoslavian title
Za saku dinamita - Yugoslavian title
A Fistful of Dynamite - U.S.A. title
Duck You Sucker - English title

A 1971 Italian production [Rafran, San Marco, Mura Produzione (Rome)]
Producer: Fulvio Morsella
Director: Sergio Leone
Story: Sergio Donat, Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Sergio Donati, Sergio Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni
Cinematography: Giuseppe Ruzzolini [Technicolor, Techniscope]
Music: Ennio Morricone
Running time: 160 minutes

Juan Miranda - Rod Steiger (Rodney Steiger)
Sean/John H. Mallory - James Coburn
Doctor Villega - Romolo Valli
Adelita - Maria Monti (Maria Monticello)
Santerna - Rick Battaglia (Caterino Battaglia)
Governor Don Jaime/General Huerta - Franco Graziosi
Juan’s father - Goffredo Pistoni
landowner - Roy Bosier
American - John Frederick
notary - Anthony Vernon (Antonio Casale)
priest - Jean Rougeul
Pancho Miranda - Vincenzo Norvese
Sebastian - Corrado Solari
Benito Miranda - Biagio La Rocca
Pepe - Renato Pontecchi
Napolean Miranda - Fra nco Collace
Miguel - Giulio Battiferri
peon - Amelio Perlinik
coach guard - Michael Harvey
Colonel Guttierez/Reza - Antonio Domingo (Antoine St. John)
Sean Nolan - David Warbeck (David Mitchell)
Coleen - Vivienne Chandler
revolutionary - Poldo Bendandi (Leopoldo Bendandi)
Captain of the firing squad - Aldo Sambrell (Alfredo Brell)
executed café owner - Furio Meniconi
train engineer - D. Andres Lupianze Orphan
conductor - Simon van Collem
girl on bus - Leonora Carney
with: Conrado San Martin (Conrado Prieto), Omar Bonaro, Amato Garbini, Nazzareno Natale, Stefano Oppefisano, Benito Stefanelli, Franco Tocci, Sergio Calderon

The setting is 1913 Mexico at the time of the Revolution. Juan Miranda, a Mexican thief leading a bandit family, meets John (Sean) Mallory, an early Irish Republican explosives expert on the run from the British. Noting his skill with explosives, Juan relentlessly tries to make him join a raid on the Mesa Verde national bank. John in the meantime has made contact with the revolutionaries and intends to use his dynamite in their service. The bank is hit as part of an orchestrated revolutionary attack on the army organized by Doctor Villega. Juan, interested only in the money, is shocked to find that the bank has no funds and instead is used by the army as a political prison. John, Juan and his family end up freeing hundreds of prisoners, causing Juan to become a "great, grand, glorious hero of the revolution".

The revolutionaries are chased into the hills by an army detachment led by Colonel Günther Reza. John and Juan volunteer to stay behind with two machine guns and dynamite. Much of the army's detachment is destroyed while crossing a bridge which is machinegunned by them and blown to bits by John. Col. Reza who commands an armoured car, survives. After the battle, John and Juan find most of their comrades, including Juan's family and children, have been killed by the army in a cave. Engulfed with grief and rage, Juan goes out to fight the army singlehanded and is captured. John sneaks into camp where he witnesses executions of many of his fellow revolutionaries by firing squad. They had been informed on by Dr. Villega, who has been tortured by Col. Reza and his men. This evokes in John memories of a similar betrayal by Nolan, his best friend, whom John kills for informing. Juan faces a firing squad of his own, but John arrives and blows up the squad and the wall with dynamite just in time. They escape on a motorcycle John is driving.

John and Juan hide in the animal coach of a train. It stops to pick up the tyrannical Governor Don Jaime, who is fleeing (with a small fortune) from the revolutionary forces belonging to Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. As the train is ambushed, John, as a test of Juan's loyalty, lets him choose between shooting the Governor and accepting a bribe from him. Juan kills Jaime, and also steals the Governor's spoils. As the doors to the coach open, Juan is greeted by a large crowd and again unexpectedly hailed as a great hero of the revolution, the money taken away by revolutionary General Santerna.

On a train with commanders of the revolution, John and Juan are joined by Dr. Villega, who has escaped. John alone knows of Villega's betrayal. They learn that Pancho Villa's forces will be delayed by 24 hours and that an army train carrying 1,000 soldiers and heavy weapons, led by Col. Reza, will be arriving in a few hours, which will surely overpower the rebel position. John suggests they rig a locomotive with dynamite and send it head on. He requires one other man, but instead of picking Juan, who volunteers, he chooses Dr. Villega. It becomes clear to Villega that he knows of the betrayal. John nonetheless pleads with him to jump off the locomotive before it hits the army's train, but Villega feels guilty and stays on board. John jumps in time and the two trains collide, killing Villega and a number of soldiers.

The revolutionaries' ambush is successful, but as John approaches to meet Juan, he is shot in the back by Col. Reza. An enraged Juan riddles the Colonel's body with a machine gun. As John lies dying, he continues to have memories of his best friend, Nolan, and a young woman both apparently loved. John recalls killing Nolan after being betrayed by him to the law. Juan kneels by his side to ask about Dr. Villega. John keeps the doctor's secret and tells Juan that he died a hero of the revolution. As Juan goes to seek help, John has a flashback to his time in Ireland with Nolan and a girl whom they both were in love with; knowing his end is near, sets off a second charge he secretly laid in case the battle went bad. The film ends with Juan staring at the burning remains, asking forlornly: "What about me?"

YouTube link:


  1. An absolute classic! and under rated for so long.
    I have never managed to spot Benito Stefanelli in this one.
    Tom, if you've had better luck, could you post a screenshot of him?

  2. Adrian, I'm with you. This used to be my least favorite of the Leone westerns. Once you get beyond Steiger's Mexican accent and if you see the full length version it grows on you with each viewing. I appreciate it very much these days. Like you I have not spotted Stefanelli and am guessing he was used as a stuntman. Someday I'll sit down and watch it for just the purpose of looking for our friend Benito.

  3. Stefanelli may be one of the horsemen seen in the scene when everybody leaves except Juan and Sean who stay at the bridge and wait for Reza's troops. That's the best bet I have.

  4. Thanks for the heads up ephedrino I'll try and check it out later this week.

  5. Hi Tom:
    The portuguese title has a typo,
    the correct title is:


    All the best

  6. Thanks Antonio, correction made.