By Padraig Cotter
October 9, 2022
The success of the Dollars movies made Clint Eastwood a household name, but one cash-in Western starring the actor is now impossible to see.
Clint Eastwood has fronted over a dozen movie Westerns, but here's why he sued to prevent The Magnificent Stranger from being released. Eastwood was best known as Rawhide's Rowdy Yates before being cast in 1964's A Fistful Of Dollars. This low-budget Italian Western paid Eastwood a small salary, but the film became almost instantly iconic - as did Eastwood's gunslinger The Man with No Name. Eastwood returned for two more Dollars movies - including The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - before becoming a major star in the U.S.
He also became closely linked with Westerns, thanks to movies like Hang 'Em High and The Outlaw Josey Wales. Fans of the actor browsing his filmography might notice a mysterious film titled El Magnifico Extranjero, AKA The Magnificent Stranger. This was the original title of A Fistful of Dollars, though 1966's Magnificent Stranger has no other ties to that film aside from Eastwood. The Magnificent Stranger isn't really a movie at all; it's two Clint-centric episodes of Rawhide - titled "The Backshooter" and "Incident of the Running Man" - edited together to capitalize on Clint Eastwood's growing Western fame. The actor wasn't happy when he found out about the film and sued to prevent its release.
Sadly, details about The Magnificent Stranger are hard to find, though it seemingly saw release in Italy in 1966 and West Germany in 1967. Eastwood appears to have been successful in his suit, as the film hasn't resurfaced since the '60s and is impossible to find now. That said, curious viewers could just watch the "The Backshooter" and "Incident of the Running Man" episodes of Rawhide back-to-back for a near identical effect to just watching the lost "movie.
Prior to landing the role of Yates in Rawhide, Eastwood had starred in a Western called Ambush at Cimarron Pass in 1958. The actor later called it "Probably the lousiest Western ever made" and considered quitting acting entirely. Rawhide changed that, with the TV series running for eight seasons and giving the young actor his first role of substance. When he starred in A Fistful Of Dollars, he also brought some Rawhide props to Italy with him, including the revolver with the snake grip handle and Yates' boots.
That would have been another way The Magnificent Stranger would have tried to tie itself into the Dollars trilogy, with the poster selling it on Eastwood's anti-hero persona. Considering Rawhide and A Fistful of Dollars couldn't be further apart in tones, those who actually saw The Magnificent Stranger in theaters were no doubt disappointed with its lack of a harder edge.