Review by J.T. Johnson
ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: December 30, 1965
DIRECTOR: Sergio Leone
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Massimo Dallamano
WRITERS: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone
MUSIC: Ennio Morricone
In January 1967, Americans first caught a glimpse of director Sergio Leone’s innovative Spaghetti Western, “A Fistful of Dollars”. What many Americans didn’t know was that Leone’s famous “Dollars” trilogy was already complete by this point. Therefore, American audiences only had to wait until May 10, 1967, to catch the film’s sequel, “For a Few Dollars More”, which was released in Italy on December 30, 1965.
The film opens up not on the iconic Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood), but on another bounty hunter named Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef). Leone decides to let the audience get to know the man who will end up going after the same bounty as Eastwood. The audience gets to see this new character’s wide array of guns as he takes down the current bounty that he is after.
Before long, the audience is reintroduced to Eastwood’s ultimate antihero. Here, he is also after a bounty and before long, the audience members knows that he is back in action. Afterwards, both bounty hunters catch wind of a new bounty, El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte).
This guy is more dangerous than anyone the Man with No Name went up against in “Fistful”. He is a man that not only goes after his enemies, he also kills their families. The only other people that is just as ruthless as El Indio is the gang of outlaws that ride with him. Right from the beginning, they kill an entire group of Mexican officers watching over El Indio at a prison he is currently occupying.
The movie is considered to be one of the ultimate Spaghetti Westerns. This is not much of a shock considering that it is far more polished than the already remarkable “Fistful”. Leone not only refines his craft, he excels at it. Long takes, narrow eyes and plenty of sweat add to the more realistic version of the West that Leone provided American audiences.
One of the standout characters in this film has to be Van Cleef’s Mortimer. While he may be a bounty hunter after El Indio, the audience can sense that there is something more to it than that. Van Cleef seems to somehow let the audience in a little and his movements and expressions make it known that this is more personal. The actor ends up turning in one of the best performances of the film.
Eastwood’s performance in this film is also more solid than in the original film. This could be for the simple fact that he is more comfortable in the role. The first film was a success so there wasn’t much pressure this time around. It could also be because he has such a damn good actor to work with in Van Cleef. No matter what the reason, his performance in this film builds on the foundation of the character established in the first flick.
Finally, the mood of the film is set-up brilliantly by a powerful score done by none other than Ennio Morricone, the man who composed all the music on Leone’s Westerns. For the first time, really, the Man with No Name had a powerful theme that would be expanded upon famously in the next film, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”. Also, the score takes a hauntingly beautiful turn when El Indio is on the screen. The music is in strict contrast to El Indio’s utter insanity.
There is also a tune that plays that is a part of El Indio’s musical pocket watch. Whenever it plays, the audience knows that something is about to go down, especially when El Indio tells his potential victims to draw their gun when the music stops. The score is one of the greatest highlights of this movie.
The only real problem with the film comes from the fact that it is an Italian film. This means that there is plenty of dubbing, most of which does not go by unnoticed. This is forgivable due to the fact that it was made in a foreign country and it was also apparent in the first film. Still, it is there so if you’re not a fan of dubbed films, then this may not be for you.
Leone had a little bit more to play with this time around and he uses his tools better than ever. Audiences get the benefit of seeing the final result of one of the greatest Spaghetti Westerns ever produced.