La solution, c'est Nzoog Wahrlfhehen qui nous la donne. Elle était depuis le début sur le site de Bob Monell, c'est-à-dire ICI. Bob Monell est un garçon américain assez fou pour consacrer tout un site à Jesse Franco (on y croise bien entendu Jean-Pierre Bouyxou), qui tape un plan de tournage de Shannyn Sossamon en guise de bannière et qui est assez lucide pour exiger sur son Twit qu'on donne à Road to Nowhere au moins les Oscars du meilleur réalisateur, du meilleur scénario et de la meilleure photo. On a quand même de sacrés copains. Bref, voici l'histoire du prologue de Pour une poignée de dollars réalisé pour la diffusion du film sur le réseau ABC, telle qu'elle figure sur cinemadrome.

monte hellman

« Anybody who first saw Sergio Leone’s landmark Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars on American TV in 1977 knows how it begins. A silent, mysterious man wearing a hat and poncho, his face as yet unseen except for close-ups of his eyes, is released from a particularly dingy prison cell and brought before the warden. The prisoner, we learn, has been released à la Dirty Dozen to perform the special mission of restoring order to the border town of San Miguel. Then the Rotoscope credits appear and, after that, the former prisoner (now clearly seen to be Clint Eastwood) begins his task.

« Alert viewers, however, will notice that the rest of the film has a dubbed soundtrack whereas the pre-credits sequence was clearly shot using direct sound. Moreover, Eastwood (or what appears to be him) is rarely seen and never gets to speak. When the prisoner’s eyes are seen in reaction shot, this is actually footage from the body of the film, with a clearly different colour texture and shot in broad daylight, as opposed to the darkness of the warden’s office. Obviously, a double was used for Eastwood and the actor playing the warden, Harry Dean Stanton, though already active in 1964, is somehow an unlikely actor in a European western of the time. 

« In 1977, at the height of Eastwood’s fame, A Fistful of Dollars was a title network executives wanted to air, but the contents of the film itself, with its multiple killings and amoral hero, fell foul of network guidelines of the time. The solution was to come up with a prologue that would thinly change the meaning of the slaughter to come: the Eastwood character, after all, is a government agent of sorts.

« The task of filming this was one of the various doctoring assignments entrusted to Monte Hellman in his strange, checkered career. For him, it meant one day’s work in Morelos, shooting in the basement of a Mexican hotel with Stanton as the only actor to speak of. The prologue was only used once (“mercifully” in Hellman’s words)  but can be seen on the MGM disc of Leone’s film thanks to a collector who recorded it onto Betamax at the time. In the same disc, an amused-looking Hellman tells of how the only did shooting, not editing, and regards the final cut of the scene he shot as padding. He obviously thinks little of the results but is nonetheless right in justifying the prologue’s inclusion in the DVD as an extra, since it is part of “the history of the film”. »

Nzoog Wahrlfhehen