In the pantheon of tough guys, Clint Eastwood stands alone.
No other actor comes close when it comes to consistently portraying characters from Dirty Harry to Walt Kowalski to the Man With No Name who combine surly violence, dry humor, near invincibility and a twisted sense of right and wrong.
But none are as iconic as the poncho-wearing, cigarillo-smoking, gun-slinging loner who inhabits three spaghetti Westerns directed by Sergio Leone: A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Filmed in Italy (or Spain) and backed by a cast of voice-dubbed Italian extras, funky music and long, uncomfortable close-ups, all three are classics.
The thing about spaghetti Westerns is that, when I was growing up, they called them horse operas, says Tim Cloran, the manager of the Landmark Mayan. In any story you tell that is epic, you run into all kinds of moral situations. And these go a little deeper than your typical adventure. The characters take an emotional journey.
A journey that usually ends with a raspy one-liner and gun smoke.
The Man With No Name films, all of which have been remastered, are part of the Mayans revival series. We started it last year with some Hitchcock films, and I thought this trilogy would be a great way to open up our summer season, Cloran says. Its been a good while since people have seen them on the big screen, if they ever have at all.
A Fistful of Dollars plays tonight at 7 and 9:45 p.m. at the Mayan, 110 Broadway, followed by the other two, at the same times, tomorrow and Thursday. For tickets and information, go to www.landmarktheatres.com.
May 31-June 2, 7 & 9:45 p.m., 2011