23 December 2003 | Quinoa1984
One of my favorite westerns- a fitting middle section to the "Dollars" trilogy
As the second of the three films legendary filmmaker Sergio Leone collaborated on with Clint Eastwood (not to mention his first with Lee Van Cleef and his second with 'Fistful' actor Gian Maria Volonte), For a Few Dollars More gets well earned respect from the fans of the director and the groundbreaking star. And yet, occasionally there are those who'll not even know this film from Leone and Clint exists since it does sometimes get under the shadow of their two most infamous works, Fistful of Dollars (which for the most part introduced Clint and Leone to the public's awareness) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (which solidified Clint as a Western icon and gave Leone a similar status for film buffs). But taken as a film unto itself, aside from its place in the trilogy, this is a Western that simply delivers the goods, and it does so with a spectacular marriage of style and substance.
The story begins by introducing our two (anti) heroes, bounty hunters Douglas Mortimer (Cleef), former Colonel, and Monco (Eastwood), a drifter. They both set their sights on the leader of a gang of bandits named Indio (Volonte), who is plotting to go after over a million locked in a bank in El Paso. At first, Monco and Mortimer seem like their after Indio for the same reason- reward money- though there seems to be more than each man counted on with him and his gang.
From the opening scenes with Cleef and Eastwood, to the scenes in El Paso, and then into the set pieces in the stone ruins in the Mexico desert(s), For a Few Dollars More displays the utmost skill by Leone in his storytelling, as well as in his use of the camera. Using Fistful's camera-man Massimo Dallamano, Leone does what he does best in his spaghetti westerns- he creates a perfectly in sync mood with his characters: each look in a scene, whether it's intense waiting for guns to be drawn, or just regular conversation, the look of the film draws the viewer in without over-doing it. Some points are made bold or repetitious (like Ennio Morricone's score, that keeps its whistling theme and serene watch theme completely in check), though it's not done to any degree of annoyance or by accident.
In fact, that's what makes his westerns such fun, is that you take them seriously as films, yet he always reminds you that it's all in the 'movie-world' just by the way Mortimer or Monco strikes up a match. As for the actors themselves, Eastwood and Cleef are total pros in this genre, so ever line of dialog comes out naturally, and the supporting actors (however dubbed over from original Italian) all contribute great notes as well. At the least, it can appeal to a new generation of kids looking back to older movies, which may look at this and consider it more modernly crafted than a John Ford oldie. A+