johnlink ranks FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965)

It took me slightly longer than I had anticipated to get to the second movie in the MAN WITH NO NAME trilogy. Maybe I was slightly more underwhelmed by A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS than I thought. But watching DJANGO last week did reinvigorate me a bit to the genre at large and to the influence of these movies. There is also the fact that the last one is supposed to be the best of all. But we aren’t there yet. So here, in the meantime, is a review of FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.

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I watched FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965) on 9.18.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

While A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS is a film which tells a simple story of a man hunting some folks, then its sequel FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE is a film which understands that a follow up needs more. Interestingly, this story has Monco (Clint Eastwood), who’s name was Joe in the first film but changed for legal reasons by Director Sergio Leone, as only part of a heroic tandem. He is paired with Col. Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) as a fellow bounty hunter. They decide to work together to take down a vicious prison escapee, El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte), and his band of outlaws. The movie is at its best when Monco and Mortimer banter and argue about who will get what and who is better at what. The pairing is smart. It positions the film as having too major heroes, increasing the danger that one could be offed.

This is a beautifully shot film. While Leone had some nice set ups in the original film, this sequel is a depiction of a good filmmaker learning about composition. The movie is filled with shots which use depth of field imagery with solid results. The foreground is sometimes the focus, the background is sometimes the focus. But there is no place in Leone’s frame where he might not try something or put someone. Some of this comes from not knowing convention, perhaps, but it mostly comes from having a really nice eye for a film shot.

For A Few Dollars More (1965) 3

The music is better here too. While Ennio Morricone’s score for all of these films is legendary, the use of quiet versus bombastic soundscapes is used to greater effect in this movie than in the previous one. The device of El Indio’s watch being a musical timepiece by which to measure the start of a duel is a stroke of genius. The tension is properly built by a beautiful little song which doesn’t match the intensity of the images we see. Leone addresses this by filling in some score in the middle section of the tinkering music, where most filmmakers would have just used a shorter piece of music and thus killed much of the suspenseful build.

The acting here is nothing special, even if it boasts some decent performances by supporting actors like Klaus Kinski. Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Volonte are all good enough, even if Volonte’s El Indio sometimes borders on the comically overacted (especially during a scene when he pretends to be choked up over the death of one of his men). Importantly, we come to care about the survival of Monco and Mortimer. Leone also is effective in making El Indio a monster. He is depicted raping one woman, killing innocent people, and having a young mother and her eighteen month old baby killed just off screen. There is no restraint in the creation of this villain. Some movies might suffer from a lack of layers in its chief antagonist, but the relationship between its two protagonists more than fills this hole.

There are some lulls in the action here which could be tightened, but nothing which derails the film. This is a better film and movie (both in terms of technique and entertainment) than A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS. While FOR A FEW DOLLARS more hasn’t catapulted itself into my list of favorite Westerns, it has forced me to stand up and take notice. It has also gotten me fairly excited to finally see THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY.

SCORES

FILM: 7; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 7; BONUS: 1

The bonus point is for the score. The music in this is excellent, but the placement of the music is perfect.

7+8+6+7+1=29

FINAL SCORE: 7.25 out of 10

 

 

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~ by johnlink00 on September 19, 2014.

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