For a Few Dollars More (1965) / Western-Action
aka Per qualche dollaro in pił
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and brief nudity
Running Time: 130 min.
Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonte, Mara Krupp, Luigi Pistilli, Klaus Kinski
Director: Sergio Leone
Screenplay: Sergio Leone, Luciano Vincenzoni
Review published April 12, 2007
Although second in the "Dollars" trilogy (also called the "Man with No Name" trilogy), Leone's second Western is not a follow-up to the first, A Fistful of Dollars. Rather, it is a continuation of the style and setting, with many of the same actors playing different roles this time out, though, in essence, still adapting their previous look and demeanor. Clint (The Witches, Coogan's Bluff) has the same talent with the guns, the same cigar, and serape, while Gian Maria Volonte (Le Cercle Rouge, For Love and Gold) continues playing the murderous heavy.
In the time of the bounty killers of the Old West, a dead-shot young guy named Manco (Eastwood) and an older former military colonel named Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef, High Noon), two different men set out for the big payoff for taking down escaped killer, El Indio (Volonte), and his nasty band of thugs who are planning to rob a fortress of a bank in El Paso. Given the amount of men to take down, as well as not wanting to get in each other's way, the men decide to join forces, splitting the money once all of the men are killed off.
The "Dollars" trilogy is one of the rare series that gets better with each successive entry, as Leone spends more time on plot, characters, and motivation than he did in his smash international debut. The pacing isn't as tight as it could be, but the plot offers some nifty twists, and there is a humanization of the characters, both on the side of "good" as well as the madmen they try to take down. The complexity of the characters sets this apart from the rest of the Spaghetti Western pack that exploded during the 1960s, and with some fantastic action and some very choice comic relief to temper the dark, often brutal violence. Leone's eye for staging the action has also vastly improves, using long shots, close-ups, and many shots that include both, in classic Western style.
As For a Few Dollars More is sandwiched between the film that set the trend for Spaghetti Westerns, A Fistful of Dollars, and the one that would prove to be a masterpiece of the genre, The Good the Bad and the Ugly, its quality is often forgotten. Make no mistake, this is one of the best of the bunch in terms of Westerns of the 1960s, with standout performances, another terrific score by Ennio Morricone (The Untouchables, The Thing), and Leone's directorial style only grows immensely, honed as close to perfection as one might have imagined, if not for actually achieving it with his knockout, tour-de-force finale in the trilogy.
©2007 Vince Leo