In between Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and A Fistful of Dollars, the first film release in the “Dollars Trilogy,” is For a Few Dollars More. Like a middle child, it’s seldom mentioned or glorified like the other two, yet is a gem for Clint Eastwood and Leone.
The Stranger (Eastwood), nicknamed “The Man with No Name,” is called Manco in this middle chapter. Manco is a ruthless bounty hunter who ultimately crosses paths with a former Army Soldier, Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef).
El Indio is a ruthless gang leader, bused out of jail by his men and schemes to rob an El Paso bank. With a massive bounty on his head, both Manco and the Colonel quickly get Indio in their crosshairs, agreeing to partner in the assassination, splitting the bounties.
Gunslinging showdowns and quick banter in Leone’s other films takes a backseat to a more complex focus on characters, with an effort to give Indio an interesting backstory surrounding a pocketwatch.
Eastwood and Van Cleef are just amazing on screen together. The characters shooting up each other’s hats and squaring up against Indio in the final sequence are classic.
The film is hindered by the melodramatic themes, which add depth and darkness to many elements, but slow the pace down too much.
Leone and western cliches pack Few Dollars More, with groundbreaking as fans see in the other two films. That said, this is more interesting and dynamic that many of the Hollywood films.