Release Date: September 13, 1961

How It Got Made: By the time Akira Kurosawa made 'Yojimbo,' he had already spent a decade as the Japanese director most admired in the West, thanks to international successes like 'Rashomon' and 'Seven Samurai.' (The latter film had even been remade as a Hollywood Western, 'The Magnificent Seven.') With 'Yojimbo,' Kurosawa returned the favor, distilling the two most American of genres (the gangster film and the Western) into a new kind of samurai picture. The result was not only a terrific success but also a vastly influential film, with its premise eventually retranslated back into the western and gangster genres, most memorably as 'A Fistful of Dollars.'