With the success across Europe of Fistful of Dollars (1964) the Italian Western was beginning to take-off, so when the time came to shoot a sequel, producers were able to drum up three times the budget of the original film allowing a bigger storyline and more actors.
Two Bounty Hunters roam the Old West - Monco (Clint Eastwood) and Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) living off the rewards they collect. When El Indio (Gian Maria Volontč), a ruthless, scheming bandit, is sprung from prision by his gang, a US$10,000 reward is placed on his head and both Bounty Hunters set off to track him down, first in opposition, then working together. Monco manages to infiltrate the gang and is accepted among them, but Indio is intelligent and scheming and after robbing the high security bank of El Paso starts to become highly suspicious...
Although generally billed as a sequel, For a Few Dollars More actually contains no storyline links with the earlier film except for the casting of Clint Eastwood as a mysterious gunman. While Fistful of Dollars (1964) had concentrated the storyline in a single, almost deserted town, the increased budget of this sequel allowed a much broader story. The storyline is quite simple, a bounty-hunter tracking down a criminal with an underlying theme of personal revenge, but the script contains a number of interesting elements, most notably the fact that the Monco and Mortimer characters get almost identical screentime and are essentially equally rated characters, frequently outsmarting the other. El Indio also gets quite a bit of screentime and a much more rounded character than the usual Spaghetti Western villain - his gang too are not the imbeciles most commonly hired by genre villains and are built up to be at least recognisable faces.
Leone was a fan of the epic films, his later work Once Upon a Time in America (1984) reportedly running up to 8 hours in its original cuts. Although the film only runs to two hours, it is paced like an epic, with some very long (although never dragging) sequences of character development with only a few action scenes. The story contains a number of twists and turns and is rarely predictable, building to an incredibly effective climax that ranks among the genre's best although this is let down slightly by an unnecessary extra sequence at the end. Fistful of Dollars had boasted a grim atmosphere, emphasising its leading character as a real anti-hero, prepared to let people die for his own profit - the script here takes a similarly downbeat path, with the hints of El Indio's brutal activites in the past, it does however include a couple of eccentric and comic characters which lighten the mood somewhat compared to the previous film.
In the director's chair, Leone continues his amazing work, proving himself to be the master of the scope widescreen frame. The sets look varied and are well populated with extras and the beautiful Spanish locations that would become the genre mainstays are used well. Ennio Morricone returns with a very distinctive soundtrack including character themes and ranging from crashing organ chords to light whistling as well as careful combination of the watch chimes - it builds the tension enourmously during the duel scenes.
Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volontč return to play similar characters to their roles in Fistful of Dollars (1964), they both get more to do this time and perform very effectively. Looking for another American actor to fill the co-lead role, Leone tried to secure Lee Marvin, however since the first film had not yet played in America he was rejected and instead cast Lee Van Cleef, a little known actor who had previously had minor roles in a number of Classic Westerns and Western TV shows. With his distinctive smile and knowing look he perfectly suits the role as the very smart Mortimer and the part would spawn a dozen leading roles for the actor in the burgeoning genre. Klaus Kinski, at the request of the German producers, was cast as a member of El Indio's gang, playing a typically eccentric part as a hunchback in his first international appearance. In the other parts two Euro-cult regulars make their film debuts, Luigi Pistilli (Milano calibro 9 (1972)) as a member of the gang and Peter Lee Lawrence (Dove si spara di pił (1967)) in a very brief part as Mortimer's doomed brother-in-law in the flashback.
Just as Fistful of Dollars (1964) was an influencial film, so was For a Few Dollars More. Further establishing Morricone, Eastwood and Leone as stars, it took Van Cleef from being a retired actor to the star of dozens of European Westerns and action films and brought international fame to Klaus Kinski who had previously been known only within Germany. For a Few Dollars More is a very good film, combining a well written storyline with more strong direction, a great soundtrack and some superb acting. With the comic characters and slightly over-long ending, it does lack the 'neat' feeling of the original, but is still an incredible film and comes highly recommended.
|Anyone famous in it?||
Clint Eastwood - went on to star in dozens of action films from Where Eagles Dare (1968) to Firefox (1982).
Klaus Kinski - a German cult movie actor who appeared in dozens of euro-westerns and horror films.
Lee Van Cleef - a former American Western actor who went on to star in a myriad of Euro-Westerns.
Gian Maria Volontč - Italian actor who appeared Face to Face (1967) and Bullet for the General (1967)
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Sergio Leone - One of the most famous Italian directors who made his debut on the Peplum Il Colosso di Rodi (1961) and went on to direct the Western epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).|
|Any gore or violence ?||Quite a lot of gunfights and fist-fights, some blood and brutality|
|Any sex or nudity?||Some implied rape and an unrevealing nude scene.|
|Good soundtrack?||A strong and clever score from Ennio Morricone that fits the film well.|
|Who is it for?||A very impressive film recommended to all and a must see for all Western fans.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour.
The print is perfect, I noticed just one minor bit of print damage in the entire run-time. Colours are good and strong, detail is high and the original film grain is still there (some restoration removes this, giving the film a 'fake' look)
|Audio||English original mono tracks - sound good and has been accurately synced to the action, more so than when originally played.
German mono - sounds good, as with the English, well synced to the action.
English 5.1 remix, as on the earlier MGM discs, with some altered sound effects - sounds good but not original.
|Subtitles||English and German
All the documentary features and the audio commentary have English and German subtitles.
|Extras||The extras are mostly imported from the existing MGM releases except where starred *.
Disc 1 includes:
|Availability||German release. DVD Title: Für ein paar Dollar mehr This set is available individually, in a digipack with 'Fistful of Dollars' or in a special edition wooden box with the second film, also containing a Clint Eastwood branded pocketwatch (that sadly doesn't play the tune) and a film strip.|
|Region||Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL|
|Other regions?||Released on an almost identical disc in the US by MGM, including the original mono not previously available on the MGM restorations. There are dozens of other DVD releases worldwide, see DVD Rewind for more.|
|Cuts?||The film is believed to be uncut, the print includes a slightly extended beating scene not present on any earlier DVD. Title and credits are in English.