“I don’t know why I named you Napoleon when you have no imagination!” Rod Steiger tells his idiot son in A FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE aka GIU LA TESTA aka DUCK YOU SUCKER aka ONCE UPON A TIME THE REVOLUTION (although that last title never seems to have been used).
Rod himself, as Juan, DOES have imagination, as we see above — James Coburn demonstrates the power of nitroglycerin, and Steiger immediately sees a possible application for such a chemical. The cartoon-like effect (might as well have shown dollar signs in Steiger’s eyes) isn’t quite like anything else in Leone’s oeuvre, but looking at John Ford’s THE INFORMER, I suddenly got a sense of what might have inspired it.
Victor McLaglan stares at Wallace “It’s me, Phroso!” Ford, and suddenly sees a price tag appended.
Leone, we know, was a great admirer of Ford (alas, I have never heard that the feeling was mutual), and would have been looking at or thinking about Ford’s Irish films since FISTFUL OF DYNAMITE features a fugitive IRA man as one of the two main characters. Leone had filmed wanted posters before — FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE is full of them — but despite some crazy cutting patterns, he’d never been tempted to superimpose them. So I’m quietly confident that I’ve accurately traced the pattern of his thinking.
Film history repeats itself, first as John Ford tragedy, then as Sergio Leone farce.