Friday, December 18, 2015

50th Anniversary of For a Few Dollars More

“Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared.”

In the Wild West, a murderous outlaw known as El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) and his gang are terrorizing and robbing the citizens of the region. With a bounty on El Indio's head, two bounty hunters, Monco (Clint Eastwood) and Col. Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef), come to collect the prize. Upon their first meeting, the two men view each other as rivals, but they eventually agree to become partners in their mutual pursuit of the vicious criminal one for the reward the other for revenge.

Many would agree most sequels to a successful film never quite equals the original but for Sergio Leone each film in the dollar trilogy eclipses the previous film. Many of us prefer For a Few Dollars More to the other two. This second film in the trilogy Leone had a bigger budget to work with so he was able to increase the production values, higher a second actor (Lee Van Cleef) and retain both Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volonte from Fistful of Dollars. The story was not borrowed or reworked from another film like Fistful was but a fresh look at the West. Ennio Morricone outdid his original dollars score and added another feathered cap of film scores. Allessandro Alessandroni also was retained for his guitar and whistling. We saw several supporting actors from Fistful also show up in this second film. From Aldo Sambrell, Benito Stefanelli, Frank Brana, José Canalejas, Lorenzo Robledo, Antonio Molino Rojo, Mario Brega and Josef Egger. These actors would become regulars in the genre over the next decade. 

The addition of Lee Van Cleef was pure genius as the U.S. advertising campaign mad you think he was the villain. “The Man with No Name is back. The Man is Black is waiting. How delighted we were to see Lee end up another anti-hero teaming up with Eastwood to pursue Indio played to the hilt by Gian Maria Volonte. When Clint returned to the states and left the Spaghetti westerns behind it was Van Cleef who carried the torch as the leading American actor in the genre. He no longer would Lee be stuck in secondary roles but would rise to a star and become a cult classic.

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