The Tale Of The Man With No Name - Part II
- Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood helped take the western genre into new territory in terms of style, atmosphere, and characters with 1964's Fistful Of Dollars and the new wave of westerns continued in For A Few Dollars More (1965). I tend to go against the grain when it comes to my appreciation of the unofficial "Dollars" Trilogy, as I find Fistful Of Dollars to be the strongest film of the series and For A Few Dollars More the weakest.
If I were to point out one thing that makes For A Few Dollars More come up a little shorter than its "Dollars" predecessor is the lack of focus on Eastwood's "Man With No Name" character. Eastwood's character was the best aspect of Fistful Of Dollars and he returns only to have a smaller role in the following film. Eastwood is indeed excellent in For A Few Dollars More for all the same reasons he is excellent in Fistful Of Dollars - there is just less of the excellence as he is in a smaller role. I will never understand how Eastwood's classic no-named hero plays a supporting role to less interesting characters after such an iconic tour de force performance in Fistful Of Dollars.
Although there is less Eastwood in For A Few Dollars More, luckily the other characters that Eastwood shares the screen with are great by themselves. Lee Van Cleef - who would return with Eastwood playing a different character in The Good The Bad And The Ugly (1966) - gives what I believe to be his finest performance as bounty hunter Douglas Mortimer in For A Few Dollars More, the real star of the show. Cleef is intense and mysterious in a role that requires plenty of underlying emotions, of which Cleef portrays wonderfully. Also of note is returning Fistful Of Dollars company player Gian Maria Volonté who plays psychopath El Indio to the hilt, with his thunderstorm eyes put to good use.
For A Few Dollars More is easily the darkest film of Leone's "Dollars" Trilogy, with the story behind the musical watch being grim enough to settle that score. But For A Few Dollars More is also probably the most emotional film of the Trilogy as well (with all that goes into the story behind the watch); it showcases some of Leone and company's most clever ideas; and the film ratchets up the gunplay from Fistful Of Dollars, featuring some of the most over-the-top violence of the three films (especially in the scene that features Eastwood and Cleef shooting each other's hats).
Without a doubt, Leone commands each scene in For A Few Dollars More with the same maestro manner that he did previously in Fistful Of Dollars and would do with his future films - I especially like the scene that introduces Eastwood in the film. However, while Leone's style is strong I would argue that it is not as strong as it was in Fistful Of Dollars or would be in The Good The Bad And The Ugly or Once Upon A Time In The West (1968), in fact there are a few scenes that really drag - the same thing goes for Ennio Morricone's score, for that matter. Also, and oddly, there are a couple of scenes apart of For A Few Dollars More that Leone had done or would do better in the future: the scene where the heroes get beaten up by the bad guys (with one cackling in the background) was done to much greater effect in Fistful Of Dollars and the final shootout in a circular arena would be done much better in The Good The Bad And The Ugly.
For A Few Dollars More continues the unofficial "Man With No Name/Dollars" Trilogy as a terrific second act (whether one registers with the opinion that the trilogy's continuity begins with The Good The Bad And The Ugly or Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More is always going to be the second act). While I would argue that it is the weakest of the Leone/Eastwood collaborated films, For A Few Dollars More is a very clever, stylish, and enjoyable spaghetti western.
CBC Rating: 8/10