Duck You Sucker! Sergio Leone’s Final & Perhaps Greatest Western

John H. Mallory
(James Coburn): Well, the reality of that is… you just liberated a hundred and fifty patriots through sheer courage in the face of danger. Ah, yes… you’re a grand hero of the revolution now. Viva Miranda!
[the cheering crowd lifts Juan onto its shoulders]
Juan Miranda (Rod Steiger): I don’t wanna be a hero! All I want is the money, the money!
John H. Mallory: VIVA MIRANDA!
Juan Miranda: You taught me one thing!
John H. Mallory: [laughing] What?
Juan Miranda: How to get FUCKED!


Although Leone wasn’t going to direct the picture (selecting AD Giancarlo Santi for the gig under his supervision), Duck You Sucker! (aka A Fistful of Dynamite, aka Once Upon a Time In The Revolution – yes three titles) is, in my opinion, his best movie.


A Fistful of Dynamite Official Trailer #1 - James Coburn Movie (1971) HD


Set in 1913 during the Mexican Revolution, the movie sees Mexican bandit Juan (Rod Steiger) form an initially uneasy alliance with former IRA man Seán (James Coburn) to aid the revolutionaries.


At 157 minutes, it’s a long watch, but very rewarding, with the late Ennio Morricone‘s wonderfully elegiac score (his best) and some great visuals.


Ennio Morricone - Messico e Irlanda


It’s pretty obvious that Leone wanted Dollars stars Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach as the Fenian and peon, but Steiger and Coburn do a fine job.


Duck, You Sucker Coburn & Steiger


Steiger had a few run ins with Leone (who was pressured to hire the actor by the studio), but the end result was worth it in both their eyes, with Steiger thankfully reining in his tendency to over-emote.


Btw, Duck You Sucker! is named for Coburn’s character’s habit of flinging sticks of dynamite and nitroglycerin droplets at all and sundry.


Ideal post 22:00 Sunday night viewing. It’s a film well worth rediscovering, especially on the big screen. Leone’s approach to the notion of revolution is as romantically bittersweet as that of the western or the gangster picture that would follow with Once upon a Time in America (1984). 


Disfruta la pelicula bastardos locos!


Nos vemos amigos…



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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'