Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day Twenty-Nine: For a Few Dollars More

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #120
Year: 1965
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef

In response to a dedicated reader's request – thanks for following, Guntars! – today's movie is a classic spaghetti Western by famed Italian director Sergio Leone. For a Few Dollars More is the second film in a loosely connected trilogy following The Man With No Name, an iconic Clint Eastwood character identifiable by his ever-present poncho and burning cigar. It's actually my least favorite movie in the trilogy (which also includes A Fistful of Dollars and all-time classic The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), but it's still a great film, and one that employs all of Leone's trademark directorial decisions including long, wide-frame staredowns and largely implied shots of brutal gunfights.

Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef offer brilliant dueling performances as rival bounty hunters who decide to take their talents to South Beach, in this summer's parlance, to take down a particularly rowdy gang of outlaws. The duo spends close to two hours just performing badass acts to one-up the other's, when eventually the outlaws' planned heist begins, and their teamwork starts to shine. After a satisfying climax, the Man With No Name rides off into the horizon, per his idiom.

I have to admit that I'm a little shocked that this is the 120th greatest movie of all time according to IMDb users while its predecessor A Fistful of Dollars is nowhere to be found on the list. There have been allegations that Fistful plagiarizes, but I've seen no evidence, and my ignorant bliss allows me to unabashedly love watching Eastwood as a loner caught between two rival gangs who have taken over a town, leaving only the coffin maker with a job. It's definitely cooler than For a Few Dollars More, and really, isn't coolness what spaghetti Westerns mostly have going for them?

But this is about More, not Fistful, and I'll say that I appreciate it as a standalone movie and endorse its position on the list. This might be Eastwood's first truly "Eastwood" performance that set him up for forty years of playing the guy in this movie – not that I'm complaining, obviously, if you know the blog. In Fistful he's still kind of a standard Western stock character; in More, he really becomes the ultimate badass with a heart we would love in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Dirty Harry, Unforgiven, and dozens more. That's pretty significant even disregarding the quality of the movie. Fortunately, it's damn good, and would easily rank among my top 10 Westerns of all time.

The Good: Eastwood becomes Eastwood. It's important to watch it if only for that reason. Also, Lee Van Cleef strikes a match for his pipe on the hunchback of an outlaw in a saloon. Top 5 Western scene of all time.

The Bad: Feels somewhat incomplete, unlike its epic follow-up. A Fistful of Dollars feels somewhat incomplete, too, but it's still a fair criticism to level at it.

The Skinny: I wouldn't have it as high, but I'd have it on my list.


  1. Thanks! Cool article.

    "There have been allegations that Fistful plagiarizes, but I've seen no evidence."

    You will Brad. It is called Yojimbo by Akira Kurosava and is on the list. I haven't seen it and don't really plan to in near future, but you will have to on your way to dominate the top.

    I actually prefer For a Few Dollars More over Fistful. I just love the duet van Cleef + Eastwood. They meet cool, they become "friends" cool, they do their thing cool and they say their goodbyes cool. :D It is fun all the way through and ends on an epic note.

    And it doesn't really feel incomplete for me. I think this one is even a bit underrated just because the next one surpassed it.

    If it would be up to me, For a Few Dollars would be higher on the list and Fistful would be on the list.

    9-/10 For a Few Dollars More

    Thanks again :)

    This trilogy is great, while I normally disagree with people's opinions on placing of films I have to agree with the majority of people that Good, Bad, and the Ugly is the best of the three!

  3. As Guntars mentions, Leone was heavily influenced by Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo. The film is pretty much A Fistfull of Dollars set in Feudal Japan with Samurai. Van Cleef and Eastwood were amazing I could watch this film over and over again.

  4. Hi Brad!
    Just discovered your blog as I watched this movie for the first time today. I'm also watching all the movies in the IMDB top 250, and even though I'm not doing it in 250 days like you, I'm well on my way after a year or so, having 74 movies left.
    I'm curious at which order you choose the movies, me, I'm going from top to bottom.

    My thoughts so far: At the beginning I was kind of bored by some of the movies due to their slow tempo, but I'm getting used to it. So far I have been plesantly surprised by many but mostly by 12 Angry men, Dr Strangelove and City Lights, while some movies have truly disappointed me like Seven samurai and Vertigo. I guess you can't like every movie, and it seems to be more difficult to understand the greatness of a movie from pre 70s, but I guess it's an age thing. I'm 31 years old, so I'm not a teenager, still some movies I just don't get, and mostly the oldies :)

    Anyway, I loved this movie! Western is, beside sci-fi, my favourite genre and I really enjoyed watching Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, two ultimate western heroes working together and trying to fool eachother off. Great movie, great music and great acting.