For A Few Dollars More [retro review]

“No, old man. Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It’s all right now.”

The Scoop: 1965 R, directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Gian Maria Volonté

Tagline: The Man with No Name is back… The Man in Black is waiting… a walking arsenal – he uncoils, strikes and kills!

Summary Capsule: Assuming that tagline is correct, apparently Clint Eastwood fights Johnny Cash. Should be fun.

Drew’s Rating: Clint Eastwood versus John Wayne in a rap battle… who ya got?

Drew’s Review: When it comes to movie franchises, the first film in a series is usually the best — Rocky, Jurassic Park, The Matrix. On rare occasions a sequel comes along that arguably tops the original: X-Men 2, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather Part II. But it’s exceedingly uncommon for the third entry in a series to be the best of the bunch. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade can maybe make a case for itself, but the only indisputable example I know of is The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. It’s the pinnacle of Sergio Leone’s “Dollars” trilogy, while A Fistful of Dollars is famous for introducing the Man with No Name and being Clint Eastwood’s breakout role. But amidst all that, the middle child of the family, For A Few Dollars More, is often forgotten. And that’s a shame, because it really shouldn’t be.

El Indio (Volente) is one bad dude, leader of a bandit gang who’ve just secured his, ah, “early release” from prison. After tracking down the guy who put him away and giving the poor bastard a stern but fair talking-to (I’m kidding, he totally kills his ass), Indio outlines his plan: robbing the Bank of El Paso and stealing a particular safe containing… one million dollars! But an honest thief just can’t catch a break, as unbeknownst to Indio, Colonel Mortimer (Van Cleef) and the deadly Man with No Name (Eastwood) are both on his trail. At first it seems the two peerless bounty hunters may take each other out of the game; but when they instead team up and the Mw/NN goes undercover with the bandits, can any force on earth save El Indio? And just what is Mortimer’s personal stake in this bounty? It’s looking grim for Indio, but then he’s no mean draw himself, and with 13 friends backing him up, things just might get interesting before all’s said and done…

Stylistically, For A Few Dollars More closely resembles its predecessor, with Leone continuing to develop as a director and taking chances with wide shots and unconventional angles. Composer Ennio Morricone is clearly growing in confidence as well, producing a bolder score that, it’s fun to realize, contains elements of what will become the infamous The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme. As for the acting, it’s a little hard to grade that level of stoicism (“In this scene I want you to look like you haven’t had any fiber in days. Yes, good. And squint.”), but Van Cleef has the right mix of haughtiness and mild amusement at the antics of everyone who isn’t him. Volente gives El Indio a shade more depth than the villains from Fistful, and Eastwood is… well, Eastwood. That is to say, he’s the most self-assured, aloof individual in any given situation. Slightly interesting to note is that the Man with No Name is a bit of a jerk this time around, displaying neither his sense of justice from Fistful nor his compassion from Ugly.

Not to skimp on this review, but there’s precious little to add that hasn’t been said about the other two films in the trilogy. It’s a rougher, grittier style of western with greater realism and more morally ambiguous “good” guys than audiences had seen before. Few doesn’t have quite as many good lines as its predecessor or sequel, and Clint has to share the spotlight with Van Cleef’s more developed character, but it’s still full of wry, subdued humor, tight editing, and excellent performances. True, it isn’t the best of the series… but then, it’s a very strong series.

"What is it with men and guns?" "Well, I think I speak for the both of us when I say, because they're metal penises."

Intermission!

  • The “Man with No Name” actually goes by a different name in each film. This time it’s Monco, which is Spanish for “one handed” or “one armed.” Throughout the movie, Eastwood performs nearly all actions with his left hand, keeping the right always on the grip of his pistol. This was inspired by samurais who would always keep their dominant hand on the hilt of their sword.
  • When Mortimer takes down the “Wanted” poster from the train station, Guy Callaway has added 2 zeroes to the reward money being offered for him. When Mortimer slips the poster under Callaway’s door, the extra zeroes are missing.
  • In the climax of A Fistful of Dollars [SPOILER], the Man with No Name’s poncho was pierced by several bullets. In Few, he wears it backwards and the mended bullet holes can be clearly seen at times over his shoulder.
  • I think you should always be able to walk up to a hotel registry, cross out the name of whomever has the best room, kick the dude out, and then give him back his pants like you’re doing him a big favor.
  • Famed German actor Klaus Kinski plays the hunchback member of El Indio’s gang.
  • It’s weird how Eastwood and Van Cleef’s characters are referred to as “bounty killers” instead of “bounty hunters.”
  • In real life, Lee Van Cleef bragged about being faster on the draw than Clint Eastwood, claiming he could draw, cock and fire in .125 of a second, while it took Eastwood .45 of a second.

Groovy Quotes

Red: Didn’t hear what the bet was.
Mw/NN: Your life.

Innkeeper: He’s nothing but a wild, vicious animal!
His wife [digging Clint’s vibe]: He’s tall, isn’t he?
Innkeeper: You’re just dirty!

Bank Manager: The truth is, Mr. Mortimer, to try robbing us would be so futile that only a complete fool would attempt it.
Mortimer: Yeah. Or a complete madman.

Mortimer: As you’re aware, when two hunters go after the same prey they usually end up shooting each other in the back. And we don’t want to shoot each other in the back.

Mw/NN: Tell me, Colonel, how do you propose that I join up with Indio? Maybe bring him a bunch of roses?

Mw/NN: Tell me, Colonel, were you ever young?
Mortimer: Yeah. And just as reckless as you. Then one day, something happened. Made life very precious to me.
Mw/NN: What’s that? Or is the question indiscreet?
Mortimer: No, the question isn’t indiscreet, but the answer might be.

Mw/NN: Ten thousand, twelve thousand, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, twenty-two… twenty-two? [Spins, shoots final bandit] Twenty-seven.
Mortimer: Any trouble, boy?
Mw/NN: No, old man. Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It’s all right now.

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3 Comments

  1. Pingback: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  2. Pingback: A Fistful of Dollars [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  3. Pingback: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance [retro review] « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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