"When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol will be a dead man."
— Ramón Rojo
A Fistful of Dollars is the 1964 (originally unauthorized) remake of the Japanese film Yojimbo. It's the first in what's known as The Dollars Trilogy by Western fans, and was followed by For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.The Man With No Name (played by Clint Eastwood and called "Joe" by the coffin maker) wanders into a small poverty-stricken town on the Mexican border dominated by two feuding crime gangs, the Rojos and the Baxters, and he decides to play the clans against each other, ostensibly so that he can profit from their conflict. The opportunity arises in the form of a Mexican shipment of gold passing through the town. However, his sympathies for Marisol, a hostage of the Rojos gang, leads to a change in plans with near-fatal consequences for the Man With No Name.The gunfight at the end is the most famous part of the film. Back to the Future: Part III directly homages it, among other Shout Outs to this movie.
A Fistful ofDollars provides examples of the following tropes:
Affably Evil: The Baxters. Unlike the Rojo Brothers, they are much more affable and less brutal in nature.
Evil vs. Evil: The Rojos vs The Baxter, though the Baxters are more corrupt than evil.
False Flag Operation: The Rojos pretend to be American soldiers to steal the gold shipment from the Mexican Army. They've already killed the Americans and position the bodies to make it look like they killed each other.
Hollywood Healing: Not as bad as Yojimbo, as Clint Eastwood's character does take some time to recover from his injuries.
Honor Before Reason: At the end of the movie, Joe has killed all of Ramon's associates, tricked him into using up all the bullets in his rifle, and shot the rifle out of his hands for good measure. Instead of just shooting the defenseless Ramon, however, he empties his own gun and throws it on the ground, just so he and Ramon can have a who-can-pick-up-their-gun-reload-it-and-shoot-the-other-guy-first contest.
Irony: At the start of the film, Joe is giving Piripero most of his business. Unfortunately for Piripero, Joe's cleared out most of his customers by the end of the film. Though, the bodies pile up at a fast enough rate at one point that they just don't bother with coffins anyway.
Murder Is the Best Solution: Ramon sets up two mass murders within several days rather than try more subtle methods or be content to accept an enemy's surrender.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: For much of the movie, the Man With No Name is only out to make some quick cash, and while he's doing that he's all but invincible in fights and plays all the other characters for suckers. It's only when he tries to do something nice by helping Marisol and her family escape that the bad guys get wise to him and deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
Only in It for the Money: Joe. In his words: "That crazy bellringer was right. There's money to be made in a place like this." Though, he does offer a good amount of his earnings to the family he rescues from the hands of the Rojos.
Only Sane Man: Silvanito, the bartender, who at first reluctantly befriends Joe.
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: After verifying that John Baxter wasn't kidding when he surrendered, Ramon tells him to take up his surrender terms with his wife and says, "Maybe she won't be too happy," before shooting him.
Revolvers Are Just Better: Ramon attempts to subvert this in the page quote. It doesn't go well. He is trying it with Clint after all... which is usually a bad idea. The movie really plays with the trope, though. Joe doesn't win the shootout because his revolver is inherently better than Ramon's rifle. He wins because he utilises his weapon's strengths to exploit the weaknesses of Ramon's.
Shaped Like Itself: Combined with Overly Narrow Superlative. The poster proclaims "A Fistful of Dollars is the first motion picture of its kind. It won't be the last!" Especially ironic since it was a remake of Yojimbo.
One of the Rojo brothers guns down Mrs. Baxter without a second thought.
There's also the quite shocking moment where The Man With No Name punches a woman in the face, thinking she was a man trying to kill him. Good luck finding a movie these days that will show the hero doing that even by accident.
Would Hurt a Child: To demonstrate how horrible that is Ramon, he has the children of the kidnapped mother (a 6 years old kid) threatened to death if she is not given.