100 Films’ 100 Favourites #31
The man with no name is back!
The man in black is waiting…
Original Title: Per qualche dollaro in più
Country: Italy, Spain & West Germany
Language: English and/or Italian
Runtime: 132 minutes
BBFC: X (cut, 1967) | 15 (1986)
MPAA: M (1969) | R (1989)
Original Release: 18th December 1965
UK Release: January 1967 (BBFC)
First Seen: DVD, 2003
Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry, Unforgiven)
Lee Van Cleef (High Noon, Escape from New York)
Gian Maria Volontè (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, Le Cercle Rouge)
Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, Wrath of God, Fitzcarraldo)
Sergio Leone (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West)
Luciano Vincenzoni (Death Rides a Horse, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly)
Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars, Once Upon a Time in America)
Sergio Leone (The Colossus of Rhodes, A Fistful of Dynamite)
Fulvio Morsella (My Name is Nobody, A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot)
A pair of bounty hunters team up, in spite of their mutual distrust, to capture the most wanted fugitive in the Wild West. That’s the short of it — the ins and outs get complicated.
The Man With No Name (who this time is called Monco) is played as coolly as ever by Clint Eastwood. This time he teams up with The Man In Black — not Johnny Cash, but Colonel Douglas Mortimer. Much older than Monco, but played with equal amounts of cool by Lee Van Cleef.
El Indio, a murdering, raping, bank-robbing outlaw. Has his own gang; has greater loyalty to money. May also be the first character to smoke marijuana in a major film production.
Best Supporting Character
Klaus Kinski plays a hunchback. I mean, what more do you need to know?
“Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared.” — title card
It’s a Leone film; there’s a tense climactic pistol duel — surely that’s all the recommendation you need.
The score is by Ennio Morricone, of course, so of course it’s fantastic. His main theme for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly may be more famous, but personally I prefer this one.
Letting the Side Down
I suppose I should mention the dubbing, which is always skew-whiff in these movies. But it is what it is.
Leone felt that Gian Maria Volontè’s performance was too theatrical, so he often subjected the actor to multiple takes in an attempt to tire him out. Volontè eventually stormed off the set… but, unable to get a ride out of the desert, returned to filming.
A Fistful of Dollars, also starring Clint Eastwood and directed by Sergio Leone, started both the Man With No Name Trilogy (aka the Dollars Trilogy) and the entire Spaghetti Western subgenre.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly completes the trilogy — not that it was intended as such by Leone: US distributor United Artists invented the “Man with No Name” concept as a way to sell the three films together. Eastwood’s character actually has a name, and a different one in each film at that.
What the Critics Said
“For a Few Dollars More, like all of the grand and corny Westerns Hollywood used to make, is composed of situations and not plots [but] on a larger, more melodramatic scale, if that’s possible. […] The rest of the film is one great old Western cliché after another. They aren’t done well, but they’re over-done well, and every situation is drawn out so that you can savor it.” — Roger Ebert
The Joys of Putting Different Reviews Right Next to Each Other
What the Public Say
“It’s a wacky and irreverent film, exactly the type of cheeky genre fare that you’d expect as the follow-up to a blatant act of plagiarism […] This irreverence is what makes the film fun, but it also never stops it from being intelligent. Like its predecessor was to a slightly lesser extent, For a Few Dollars More is a film about the value of life (often literally and monetarily) and the cost of our connections with other human beings (specifically men in this predominantly male society).” — Wes, Screening Notes
Sergio Leone defined the Spaghetti Western subgenre with A Fistful of Dollars, and some would argue perfected it with The Good, the Bad the Ugly, but in between those two he made this, my favourite of the trilogy. Leone’s trademark style tells a story whose scope is in the sweet spot between the first film’s one-town tale and the third’s epic narrative, with a pair of sparky heroes going up against a ruthless villain, and a nice twist in the tail.
#31 will be… Бонд зовут. Джеймс Бонд.