“A Fistful of Dollars” from Sergio Leone, which was a nearly shot-for-shot remake of “Yojimbo” by Akira Kurosawa was never authorized by Toho/Kurosawa. The letter Kurosawa sent to Leone contained the line ‘I’ve seen your movie. It’s a very good movie. Unfortunately, it’s my movie.’.

How Kurosawa’s ‘Yojimbo’ Became Leone’s ‘Fistful of Dollars’

His name might not mean much to Joe Moviegoer, but among a certain kind of cinephile, Stephen Prince is a legend. Others may know their Kurosawa, but Prince wrote a brilliant deep-dive on the great Japanese director’s films (The Warrior’s Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa), although his movie-geek street cred is mostly due to his Criterion Collection audio commentaries, which appear on the DVDs and Blu-rays for pretty much every Kurosawa film they’ve released–including Yojimbo, which was the one that brought us together. Last weekend, I had the honor of talking to Prince about Yojimbo at the Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita, Kansas (one of our favorite under-the-radar film fests). Specifically, we discussed the link between that film a… Continue Reading (3 minute read)

15 thoughts on ““A Fistful of Dollars” from Sergio Leone, which was a nearly shot-for-shot remake of “Yojimbo” by Akira Kurosawa was never authorized by Toho/Kurosawa. The letter Kurosawa sent to Leone contained the line ‘I’ve seen your movie. It’s a very good movie. Unfortunately, it’s my movie.’.”

  1. microgiant

    David Carradine also starred in yet another remake of it, called “The Warrior and the Sorceress,” which was set in a fantasy world. Apparently the director was really into the female lead (The titular sorceress) because he decided her costume should just be straight up topless, the whole movie.

  2. najing_ftw

    I don’t make films, but if they did they’d have a samurai

  3. GillyTC

    This makes me really eager to check out Yojimbo. And also reminds me as a Star Wars fan that I really need to give Hidden Fortress a watch.

  4. twiggez-vous

    I wonder if Kurosawa felt the same about Star Wars.

    > George Lucas has acknowledged the heavy influence of [The [Hidden Fortress](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hidden_Fortress) on Star Wars, particularly in the technique of telling the story from the perspective of the film’s lowliest characters, C-3PO and R2-D2. Lucas’s original plot outline for Star Wars also had a strong resemblance to the plot of The Hidden Fortress, which would be reused for The Phantom Menace.

    The Hidden Fortress is a brilliantly fun action-adventure film by the way. [As one critic says](https://www.theguardian.com/film/2002/feb/01/culture.reviews2),
    “Arthouse classics aren’t usually as welcoming and entertaining as this.”

    Found this [Star Wars/ Hidden Fortress comparison video](https://youtu.be/4g8r0LhpMzk). With quick soundless clips, much of the context is lost, but you get the picture.

  5. Njall

    Darn. This post got me once again interested in Yojimbo. Apparently neither Netflix nor Amazon have Yojimbo. Only HBO Max. Pity. I’ve heard of Yojimbo periodically throughout my life and haven’t seen it. Looks as though it will be a while longer.

  6. johnydeformed

    Lucas borrowed a lot from “The Hidden Fortress,” and even considered Toshiro Mifune for the role of Obi-Wan. That and Jedi are effectively space samurai.

  7. bolanrox

    Last man standing was the official approved remake

  8. bottle-of-smoke

    Since we’re on the subject, here’s a shout out to the Roger Corman/John Sayles/Jimmy Murakami remake of The Seven Samurai , Battle Beyond the Stars.

    I saw it in a packed house in the late 70’s and the audience left entertained.

  9. kkngs

    Wow. I always assumed they’d licensed the screenplay.

  10. plolops

    What about the episode a fishful of dollars by futurama

  11. a-horse-has-no-name

    [If you’d like to see some scenes that were directly copied from Kurosawa.]

  12. Oswarez

    If you want to see the Viking version of this story then check out The Raven Flies/Revenge Of The Barbarians. An Icelandic epic from the 80’s.
    [The Raven Flies Trailer](https://youtu.be/F6BJGCAFv_Q)

  13. electriclobster

    I know what I’ll be doing this week.

  14. John_Doe_1914

    Long history of stealing between westerns and Jidaigeki. Kurosawa took his techniques from American westerns, who then started taking techniques from him. I find it pretty interesting.

  15. EdselFordsRevenge

    I wouldn’t say it’s a shot-for-shot remake, more like scene-for-scene. The two movies are pretty different visual experiences, but definitely the same story.

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