Watching: A Fistful of Eastwood

Two classic westerns, two different visions.

By The Watching Team

Dear Watchers,

We know your watching time is limited. And the amount of things available to watch … is not. Looking for a movie? Nearly any movie ever made? It’s probably streaming somewhere. That’s a lot of movies.

Below, we’re suggesting two of them, the latest of our weekly double-feature recommendations. We think the movies will pair well — with each other and with you.

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Your weekly double feature: A history of violence

From left, Clint Eastwood, Shane Meier and Aline Levasseur in a scene from “Unforgiven,” which Eastwood directed.Warner Bros., via Photofest

‘Unforgiven’ and ‘A Fistful of Dollars’

When the characters in “Unforgiven” speak of William Munny’s past as a mean, coldblooded killer of near-mythic proportions, it doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to picture what this gunslinger was like. That’s because he is played by Clint Eastwood, who drew on his three-decade history as a western icon to tell a story about the final reckoning of a man who may be beyond redemption.

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Now streaming on HBO Max, “Unforgiven” (1992) starts with Munny as a humble farmer, struggling to raise two young children after their mother, the decent woman who changed his life, died of smallpox. When a group of prostitutes raise a $1,000 bounty for two cowboys who disfigured one of their own, Munny partners with an old friend (Morgan Freeman) and a young sharpshooter (Jaimz Woolvett) to do the job, but they run afoul of a sheriff (Gene Hackman) who believes justice has already been served. The deeper Munny gets into the mission, the more acquainted he becomes with the past he tried so hard to leave behind, and Eastwood, in his best film as director, brings more to the character than any actor could.

Munny’s past calls to mind Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” character, who first appeared in the Sergio Leone Spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars” (1964). Drawn heavily from Akira Kurosawa’s “Yojimbo,” the film casts Eastwood as a loner who arrives in a town that is terrorized by two warring parties and then quietly exploits the feud to his own advantage. Still, his mercenary ways do not suppress his prevailing sense of justice. Leone’s robust approach to the genre, aided by the whistles and whip cracks of Ennio Morricone’s score, turned Eastwood into a larger-than-life star — an image he cultivated masterfully throughout his career. SCOTT TOBIAS

Stream “Unforgiven” on HBO Max. Rent it on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

Rent “A Fistful of Dollars” on Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu and YouTube.

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