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For A Few Dollars More

The sequel to A Fistful of Dollars continues what is called the "Dollars" trilogy. Clint Eastwood returns, and Lee Van Cleef also appears in his first of many Italian westerns (his eyes are particularly well suited to the western: thin and menacing). Stylistically, the only real change between this film and A Fistful of Dollars is that Leone lost most of his slow motion effects.

Also, Leone first used his dramatic editing techniques in the incredible shoot-out near the beginning of the movie (and the equally powerful shoot-one scene that closes the story). Even though there was a shoot-out in Fistful, its editing was not as sophisticated. This time, Leone used a powerful score by Morricone to create tension, while quickly cutting back and forth between two opponents, waiting for a musical pocket watch to finish playing to start shooting at each other. It is a very powerful, tense, and exciting scene, due to the fact that there is such an emotional wind-up to the draw. Other memorable scenes include Indio's parable of the carpenter, the Colonel (Lee Van Cleef) lighting his match on one of the hump of one of Indio's more deformed men, and the cut between Indio laughing after his escape and the wanted poster.

In this movie, the Man With No Name is back, and this time he's a bounty hunter. So is the Colonel (Lee Van Cleef). They both set their sites on a recently escaped bandit, Indio, who plans to rob the Bank of El Paso. The Man with No Name and the Colonel conspire to turn in Indio and his men for a huge reward, but with such a huge reward, the two bounty hunters must watch each other as closely as they watch Indio.

This film is not as highly regarded as Leone's other westerns. This is probably because most people remember A Fistful of Dollars more because it is Leone's first western and Eastwood's first movie. However, I feel there is a definite shaping of Leone's style in each successive movie, culminating in his "Once Upon a Time…" masterpieces. Each movie gets longer, not because more happens, but because his starts to take his time, giving plenty of screen time to the beautiful cinematography, Morricone's music, and the quite meaningful silence of the characters. Each movie is indeed better than the previous, and I feel For A Few Dollars More is not an exception.

Another interesting note is that this is the first film that contains what is to become a Leone trademark, the musical theme embodied within the movie itself, where the music is often both diagetic and non-diagetic (within and seperate from the action). In this film, the musical theme is a pocketwatch that plays a simple tune which starts and blends with the Morricone non-diagetic music. In Once Upon a Time in the West the device is a harmonica. In Once Upon a Time in America the device is a pan flute that Cockeye plays (but is really played by Zamphir, master of the Pan Flute (I am not making this up)). Sometimes the tunes are diagetic, sometimes they are nondiagetic, and sometimes a mixture of both. This is distincly Leone, and I've only seen other directors use this technique once (in The Mission, again with Ennio Morricone music).

Recently, I had the misfortune to see this movie on WGN. Either they had a different version of the film than is normally available, or, more likely, some bonehead there decided to cut out at least a minute of the beginning shoot-out. Gone was everything from when Morricone's music started, to right before they drew their guns. Probably to save time, one of the greatest parts of the movie was cut out because someone couldn't figure out why anyone needed to see cross-shots of the duelists played to some music. Idiots! Whoever committed this atrocity should have a price on their head. Dead or alive.





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