FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef
Full disclosure: With a handful of exceptions, I can't stand westerns. However, there is something about a Sergio Leone film that makes me positively giddy. After finally seeing For a Few Dollars More (I seem to be working my way backwards through the series, since The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was the first one I saw) that familiar giddiness was back because these movies are just so good.
For a Few Dollars More finds bounty hunters Monco (Eastwood) and Col. Douglas Mortimer (Van Cleef) chasing after the same target - El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte), a really bad guy who, along with his gang, are going to attempt to rob the most impenetrable bank that exists, in El Paso.
I really enjoyed For a Few Dollars More, possibly because it was kind of fun to see Van Cleef and Eastwood together before The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. For a Few Dollars More is full of Sergio Leone-isms: sweeping landscapes, minimal dialogue, that great Ennio Morricone soundtrack that is both awesome and comical at the same time and shot after shot of people looking at one another. Really, rereading that last sentence, it's kind of surprising that Leone's films work as well as they do because in a vacuum, those four elements don't sound all that favorable. But work well they do, because after about ten minutes, I was hopelessly lost in the movie and enjoying every minute of it. Eastwood actually has a lot more dialogue in this film than some of the others, and is sometimes a little goofy, yet maintains his status as badass. Van Cleef is full-on badass, however, and acts a little bit like Eastwood's mentor in the film. I actually really like Lee Van Cleef; he really looks like he has no business playing a tough guy, but he really embraces that role and pulls it off fantastically. One of the things I expect in a film that has a villain is that he or she be a good villain. It's really easy to get this wrong, but Volonte's "El Indio" is a really, really bad guy. Women, children, anyone innocent - they're all cannon fodder for this guy. To add a little touch of fun to the character, Volonte also threw in some nifty insanity and flamboyance which I think enhanced the role a lot.
Though not my favorite Leone film so far, For a Few Dollars More is indeed a great film. I really enjoyed it and it's definitely a must-see for anyone who enjoys the genre. Plus, I personally enjoyed the "what the hell?" casting choice of Klaus Kinski as one of Indio's gang members. I also think that it's accessible enough for people not familiar with "spaghetti westerns" to enjoy, perhaps even more than The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; despite being the superior film, there's a little more patience needed during Leone's infamous "we're looking at each other" scenes, which tended to go on for more than a minute, whereas For a Few Dollars More is a bit more straightforward. And it's just plain awesome.
4 out of 5 stars