Originally called a Fistful of Dynamite, Duck, You Sucker is Sergio Leone’s fourth Spaghetti Western, the first without Clint Eastwood. While a certainly more “poetic” title, Fistful of Dynamite suggests a tie to the Man With No Name films when one does not exist.
Duck, You Sucker (a line repeated throughout the film) is the tale of a Mexican gang with a plan to rob a bank who stumble across an explosives obsessed Irishman. They get paired up when Juan Miranda’s gang damages John Mallory’s motorcycle. Miranda thinks he can help them pull off a major heist. But Mallory has plans of his own, and uses Miranda’s greed to get them all drawn into the Mexican revolution, something Miranda has no desire to be a part of.
About the first half is very entertaining. This has all of the flourishes of the Man with No Name films, with an added does of humor. Leone gives us insanely close up close ups. Beautiful long shots of the rugged land.
Mallory is not a mystery man. He is a member of the Irish Republican Army in hiding. A lot of humor comes from James Coburn’s glee in the role. Steiger (playing Mexican gang leader Miranda) is a bit more uneven. Sometimes he is tough and wily…others a racist caricature of a Mexican Outlaw. He is at him best when his character turns serious regarding why he has no interest in revolutions. The people who read books tell the poor what they need to do and then leave the poor to suffer the consequences.
Unfortunately, at this point the film starts to get into long and more drawn out scenes and flashbacks. While meant to give insight into Mallory, instead they just confuse things. At nearly two and a half hours, the film could use some trimming to make everything tighter. A revolutionary and a man who wants none of it makes for a compelling story, especially as their friendship grows. I just wish the second half had been as strong as the first.
However, the Ennio Morricone soundtrack is terrific all the way through.