One of the most iconic title sequences ever made, A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari) was the first spaghetti western to gain widespread international recognition. After the film’s initial release in Italy, it took three years until the film was released in the US. Director Sergio Leone’s revolutionary take on the western would ultimately change the genre altogether. The Dollars trilogy catapulted the careers of Leone, a young actor named Clint Eastwood, and composer Ennio Morricone, whose enigmatic score still resonates today.
A Fistful of Dollars (1964) was the first film in Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy that also includes For A Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). The opening title sequences for these three films were made by Italian graphic designer Iginio Lardani. Unlike Leone, Eastwood, and Morricone, Lardani did not win a one-way ticket to stardom. The designer who created one of the most iconic film title title sequences of the 20th Century, and whose bold, graphic, pop art-inspired main titles continue to inspire designers, animators, and filmmakers today (see for instance Paul Donnellon’s opening titles for Smokin’ Aces), remains relatively unknown outside the Italian film industry.
Iginio Lardani passed away in 1986, but his son Alberto Lardani told me this anecdote: “Sergio Leone’s reaction when he first saw the title sequence for ‘Per un Pugno di Dollari’ was of great gratitude. Not only for its extraordinary iconic impact but also because it was designed for free.”
Article: Remco Vlaanderen, © Submarine Channel, 31 October 2007. Update: 11 August 2011. Last update: 7 August 2013.
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About Iginio Lardani
Not so much is known about Iginio ‘Gigi’ Lardani, the designer of iconic title sequences such as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars. After a long search, I managed to get in touch with Iginio’s son Alberto, a film editor, who has worked with his father for more than twelve years. In the email interview, Alberto tells me that his father didn’t attend any kind of graphic design school. “He was an autodidact with a great interest in painting. He entered the film world as a film poster designer and created the Italian poster of ‘High Noon’, among others.”
Constantin Film Produktion, Jolly Film, Ocean Films
2 responses to “A Fistful of Dollars”
Classic, how can you better this,simple but atmospheric.
The titles were done by a process called rotoscoping where actual images from the film were reduced to animated silhouettes. These were placed over a predominantly red background. Since it is not an inexpensive process,several images were used more than once, sometimes “flip-flopped” or reversed to give a different look.