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"For a Few Dollars More" is the second movie in Director Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" or "Man with No Name Trilogy" (depending on your preference). Unlike its predecessor, "A Fistful of Dollars" (which is completely unrelated in plot), there's a chance you'll recognize an actor other than Clint Eastwood - Lee Van Cleef plays a memorable supporting role as a competing bounty hunter to Eastwood (if - and only if - you've watched "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence," Van Cleef is one of Valence's henchmen in this clip (most noticeable upon exiting the restaurant). Also, instead of two family clans fighting, there is a singular, despicable villain in the character of Indio (Gian Maria Volontè), whom film director Alex Cox described as "the most diabolical Western villain of all-time." Although more concise, and "tighter" in story line than "Fistful," this film is still, as Roger Ebert said, "composed of situations and not plots." If you're a younger reader, and have heard of the term "Spaghetti Western," but don't quite know what it means, all you need to do is watch this trilogy, and you'll understand completely - these movies are to Westerns what strip-mall Chinese-American restaurants are to Chinese cuisine. They're not bad, mind you, but they're really closer in spirit to the Wuxia martial arts films of China, than the beautiful masterpieces of John Ford (think, cheap dubbed martial arts fights with people doing triple somersaults in the air before kicking). Okay, they're not *that* bad, but they're sort of in the same vein. If you're only going to watch one of these first two, make it this one (I don't remember the final film. "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," well enough to comment right now, and after just the first two movies, I'm pretty much "Spaghetti-Westerned out") - it's more coherent, and has better character development and story arc. Clint Eastwood is *perfect* in his roles, and you can easily see how he became a screen legend, but these movies just aren't all that great - they're "fun" for young adults, but I doubt they were serious threats at the Cannes Film Festival. *** SPOILER FOLLOWS *** Can anyone explain why Eastwood left with the sack of money at the end? He was a bounty hunter, yes - a killer - but he didn't come across to me as dishonest. Was he going to give it back to someone?
For those wishing to watch all the films in Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name Trilogy," (or "Dollars Trilogy," if you prefer), all three were released in America in 1967, but they were filmed in Spain in the following order: 1964 - "A Fistful of Dollars" 1965 - "For a Few Dollars More" 1966 - "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" You'll be doing yourself a favor to watch them in order, and to pay close attention to names and faces early on in "A Fistful of Dollars" - Clint Eastwood is quite possibly the only actor or actress you'll know in this film, so it's important to sort things out, and to be mindful of both the Rojo brothers, and the Baxter gang - two rival families vying for control of this nasty little pueblo, the fictional San Miguel, just south of the Texas border. *** SPOILERS FOLLOW *** Eastwood rides into San Miguel, and immediately proves his prowess with a gun, earning grudging respect from both factions - the Rojos and the Baxters - and spots a deviant way to profit from the situation, pitting one family against the other. It all sounds very interesting, and this movie is rated *very* highly by almost everyone, but 45 minutes into a 1'40" movie, I think it's pretty damned boring. I know this was Sergio Leone's first "Spaghetti Western," and he felt that American Westerns of the late 1950s and early 1960s had become stolid and dull; but so far, I think *this* is stolid and dull. Well, it has another 55 minutes to sort itself out, and it's only the first of a trilogy, so maybe I should cut Leone - a legend - something of a break, given that I have very limited knowledge of the American Western pre-1964. Leone wanted to offer Eastwood's role to Henry Fonda, but couldn't afford him. Then, his second choice was Charles Bronson, who felt the script wasn't very good (so far, I'm in the Bronson camp). Fully *seven* other actors turned down the role, before Leone reached out to Eastwood, a relative unknown at the time who could be hired on the cheap - the fact that he was the *tenth* choice for the role tells me that this movie might be more about "the making of a star" than "the making of a good movie." Okay, I'm going to keep watching with an open mind, 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating be damned - if this movie ends, and I think it's boring, I'm going to come right out and say so. There's no doubt, however, that Eastwood brings a serious panache to the role, and I can easily see how a star was born with this film. I must admit that Eastwood is playing a fascinating, deadly, and profitable game of chess - but he's neither white nor black; he's controlling the chessboard from up above, wearing both opponents down, piece-by-piece, and pocketing some money each time he does. Also, 1'15" into this film, things have *really* picked up. After a *brilliant* gambit, a terrible turn of events resulted in Eastwood getting the Holy Hell beaten out of him, and all bets are now off - this last 25 minutes is going to be about whether he can survive (and of course, he will). But, wow, has this film taken a turn towards the upside. The Baxters aren't exactly saints, but the Rojo clan is pure evil - they have massacred two groups of innocent people in this movie, and deserve whatever punishment and retribution come their way. And come it did.