Sunday 18 October 2009

Movie Review: For A Few Dollars More (1965)

The middle chapter of Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy, For A Few Dollars More is probably the least celebrated installment, but also ironically the most complete film among the three.

While A Fistful Of Dollars is magnificent in its sparseness and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is magnificently overblown, For A Few Dollars More sets about delivering the most solid character-driven narrative, perfectly meshing Leone's style with another brilliant Morricone score and a fleshed-out story now clearly backed by a bigger budget.

There are more locales, more extras, more scenes, more characters and more background than the first installment, without yet veering into all-out opera territory.

After the remarkable and unexpected success of A Fistful Of Dollars in Europe, Leone rapidly pulled For A Few Dollars More together. He convinced Clint Eastwood to sign-up for the sequel and reprise his role as the Man With No Name, even though the first film had not even been released in the US. With more budget at his disposal, Leone was also able to afford another American actor, and Lee Van Cleef got the role of Colonel Mortimer.

The plot sees Eastwood and Van Cleef as two bounty hunters who eventually team up to take down the gang of the vicious bandit El Indio (another perfect Gian Maria Volonte villain). There are bank robberies, gun-fights, exotic guns, and a terrific hat-shooting duel. The memorable secondary characters include Klaus Kinski as a massively haunch-backed member of El Indio's gang. The film reaches a climax with a final showdown that is almost triangular, sowing the seed for the magnificent finale that Leone conjured up for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The final math puzzle resolved by The Man With No Name is a terrific cherry on top of the icing on the cake, perfectly capturing the spirit of the trilogy.

For A Few Dollars More makes use of flashbacks and a simple but haunting tune (in this case played by a pocket watch), both tools that Leone would develop to chilling perfection in Once Upon A Time in the West.

For A Few Dollars More is the meat in the sandwich of the Dollars trilogy, not the most visible part of the meal, but certainly an essential component of the experience.

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