For a Few Dollars More (1965)    3 Stars

“The man with no name is back… The man in black is waiting! As if one wasn’t enough . . . as if death needed a double!”

For a Few Dollars More (1965)

Director: Sergio Leone

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté

Synopsis: Two bounty hunters with the same intentions, team up to track down a Western outlaw.

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While For a Few Dollars More, the second in Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood’s ‘Man With No Name’ trilogy is a highly accomplished film in its own right, it doesn’t quite possess the epic scope that would lend an added resonance to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) and Once Upon a Time in the West (1968). Despite their Spanish shooting locales, those later films worked hard to establish a sense of time and place, and in doing so created a sense of history which is missing from A Few Dollars More. Nevertheless, that inimitable epic style of Leone’s is coalescing here, and For a Few Dollars More contains a spirit and verve that was, until then, lacking from the genre.

Clint Eastwood plays Manco, a bounty killer working the same area as Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef). Both men independently decide to hunt down the escaped bandit El Indio (Gian Maria Volante), attracted by the $10,000 bounty on his head. Eventually, the two men form a tentative partnership to aid their pursuit of Indio, with Manco infiltrating Indio’s gang in order to lead him into a trap while robbing a bank in El Paso. But when things go wrong, the partnership between the two bounty hunters becomes increasingly strained.

For a Few Dollars More is filled with all the usual Leone trademarks: the leisurely pace and lingering, extreme close-ups of sweaty bearded faces, the sudden bursts of violence — in fact the opening thirty minutes is essentially a succession of killings without let up — and the ambiguous morality of all his characters. Van Cleef would appear as the villain in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but he’s a good guy here, and he creates a reasonable screen chemistry with Eastwood’s loner anti-hero. Both men are laid back, implacable and unflappable, but each possesses a unique individuality in spite of their likenesses. Volonte makes a diverting villain, operating perhaps on the verge of sanity without falling back on histrionics. In fact, it’s quite a restrained performance in that respect. In one scene, in which Indio sits on a wall watching his men delivering a beating to Manco and Mortimer, the camera stays largely on Volante’s face, and he alternates amused chuckles with a vague interest, as if he’s watching a couple of kids playing. It’s as if he believes the world has been created purely for his own enjoyment.

(Reviewed 30th July 2012)