Everyone worth knowing will agree: Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns kick some serious ass. And anyone who's seen them twice—or three, or four, or more times—can attest that they hold up astonishingly well, even improving with age. Which leads us to one of the most enjoyable DVD collections in recent memory: MGM and 20th Century Fox's The Sergio Leone Anthology.
The big three are here: 1964's A Fistful of Dollars, 1965's For a Few Dollars More, and 1966's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. But also present is 1971's Duck, You Sucker (also known by the far crappier name A Fistful of Dynamite)—a film that's always been labeled as a black sheep among Leone's lauded epics.
For those of us weaned on Back to the Future Part III, the iconic impact of Clint Eastwood as Leone's antihero is so massive that it's automatic: Eastwood and Leone are the western genre, and in comparison to these films, no other westerns can or should compete. From the warring gangs in A Fistful of Dollars to the hunt for buried treasure in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the Italian Leone created a beautiful, exhilarating vision that came to define a country half a world away.
But Duck, You Sucker has never shared in the praise given to Leone's other works. Despite Leone's trademark style and yet another brilliant score by Ennio Morricone, its goofier plot (featuring James Coburn as a dynamite-lovin' Irishman and Rod Steiger as a scheming Mexican bandit) and weird riffs (it opens with a quote from Chairman Mao) have marginalized the film. Here, though, the uneven but ecstatic Duck more than holds its own.
The eight-disc, gorgeous box set also comes with plenty of special features. With several of the films nearing three hours in length, that's a whole lot of Leone—but when each film's end credits roll, it still feels as if they've ended far too soon.