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Duck You Sucker

Director Sergio Leone single-handedly created a new film genre called the "Spaghetti Western" in the sixties with classic films like "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" and "A Fistful of Dollars" starring Clint Eastwood.

In 1971, he created one of his biggest, strangest and most eclectic films with DUCK, YOU SUCKER.

Saddled with one of the worst titles ever (and known elsewhere in the world as "A Fistful of Dynamite", the film opens with Mexican robber Juan Miranda (Rod Steiger) working his magic deep in Mexico on an unsuspecting wagon full of rich tourists.

The first 15 minutes is bizarre, filled with Leone's extreme closeups, bold and uncomfortable (but PG-13) sexuality and several intriguing twists and turns.

As this sequence ends, Juan meets I.R.A bomber John Mallory (James Coburn), who is far within Mexico's borders to escape the Irish police who consider him a terrorist.

Coburn and Steiger play off each other really well, creating a much more weathered Leone-style Butch and Sundance.

Coburn is all cool looks and suave control while Steiger is a more measured (at times) version of his usual bombastic, BIG acting style.

Both of their accents are just horrible with Steiger sounding just like Pacino in "Scarface" and Coburn sounding half the time like he's just out of a Lucky Charms commercial.

After John demonstrates some superior and explosive skills with his ever present sticks of dynamite, Juan is anxious to add him to his gang and go after some bank targets he's dreamed of for years.

John has different ideas, bringing his passion for revolution from Ireland to south of the border and dragging Juan into the national movement with quiet skill.

The film takes a major tone shift at its intermission, becoming a much more serious film as the war moves from explosions and fun mayhem to a battle with real death & consequences.

This is one of Leone's biggest films, with a literal cast of thousands and some of the biggest action scenes he ever staged.

The explosions served up are absolutely HUGE. There were two explosions that were so large they made me hit the replay button.

They were done full size, no CGI, no digital effects. These are the real deal, full scale, no models and the difference is astonishing, AND COOL.

Ennio Morricone's music score is SO strange its almost hypnotic, with a chorus often singing "shon, Shon, SHON!" in the background for no reason whatsoever. Yet, it works.

Like most of Leone's spaghetti westerns, this is a long, (157 minutes) leisurely film, filled with characters reacting to each other with long, sweat stained and dirt covered glances. It's in no hurry to go anywhere.

If you are patient though, it's fascinating. It tackles some big subjects and big emotions in its second half, building off the laughs and fun action of the first half.

It sticks with you.

If you think that John doesn't really have all that nitro and dynamite on him that he swears he does, I only have three words for you.

"Duck, you sucker!"

Leone's quiet, explosive adventure gets a B.

OO7 fans: OHMSS' George Lazenby was originally cast in the James Coburn role. Coburn took the part when Lazenby bowed out.

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