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For a Few Dollars More - Blu-ray Review


For a Few Dollars More

5 Stars Filmed in 1965, For A Few Dollars More reunites Director Sergio Leone, Composer Ennio Morricone, Italian star Gian Maria Volontè, and Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name for a continuation of Leone’s wholly original take on the American west.  Not just merely just a sequel to 1964’s international smash A Fistful of Dollars, Leone’s For A Few Dollars More takes the territory and thematic quality of the first and expands it in wild ways courtesy of his own developing process of wicked editing.

Thrown into the mix of Leone’s own recipe for a classic Western is another American actor, Lee Van Cleef as Colonel Douglas Mortimer.  Van Cleef, originally billed as The Man in Black, plays a bounty hunter after “El Indio” (played by Volontè), yet discovers that his target has its own competition: Eastwood.  While the Colonel has his fierce mind hellbent on revenge, considering the musical pocketwatch Indio plays for his victims before gunning them down came from his own sister (Rosemary Davis), it is The Man With No Name (Manco) who must be closely watched at all times.  Deciding a team-up is the best way to proceed with offing Indio and his gang, the two bounty hunters join together long enough to know their desire to kill comes from two completely different areas of the human psyche.

One of the most powerful sequences from the film contains an editing cut flipping back and forth from Indio’s laughing at his escape from prison and the illustration used for his wanted poster.  This sequence, following the duel that opens the film, showcases Leone’s new love: editing.  Gone are the slow motion touches of A Fistful of Dollars.  With For A Few Dollars More, Leone advances to the nuances of editing and, as evident by this back-and-forth cutting, is not afraid to take risks.  As a result, one would be very hard pressed to find a soured sequence for the entire film.

Using the incomparable Morricone to provide the film’s sonic soundscape and main structure (the pocketwatch theme), For A Few Dollars More thunderously alsi builds its epic tension from the artistry of the score.  This seamless merging of original music with film is probably the most effective use of music to pictures.  While Leone would continue to use Morricone to score his films, the score for second film of the trilogy remains superior for its initial embodiment of the narrative’s theme.

Even the cast improves this time out; there is a marked confidence in their performances – especially Eastwood (who would only do one more of Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns) and Van Cleef, whose steely cat-like eyes practically pierce the screen with unusual intensity.  Knowing what Leone is after (even though he had yet to see an English-dubbed version of the original film), Eastwood turns down the cool factor and plays everything to a minimum – even his swagger.  He lets the overall peaks and valleys of the picture speak on their own and, in doing so, takes knowing command of the action in the most badass way possible: he doesn’t look when he kills.  He doesn’t have to.

Even though Leone’s finest work is still 2 years away, For A Few Dollars More is hardly practice shooting.  This is a marked improvement over the first feature.  Its proud and confident frames feel more tonally complex and edgily choreographed throughout, making for an interesting viewing experience.  The end result is a work of pure genius that is more complex, more mature, and more visually striking than its predecessor.  In the entire history of Hollywood, there simply aren’t that many sequels that can claim that level of success.


Component Grades
Movie
 
DVD
5 Stars
 
5 Stars
     
DVD Experience
5 Stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 11, 2010
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Thai
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: Dolby Digital Mono; German: DTS 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)

Wow, does this film ever look amazing on Blu-Ray.  The colors are sharper, more saturated and pure than ever before.  This is a very warm transfer and, as viewed after A Fistful of Dollars, one can definitely see the difference.  Only a few scenes suffer from the fate of film scratches and dust, but this is entirely forgivable considering the treatment of the film with this release.

Supplements:

Commentary Track Commentary with Film Historian Christopher Frayling: Another informative track from Frayling, Leone’s biographer.

Featurettes:

  • The Christopher Frayling Archives (19:02): Again, Frayling shows off posters, documents, and scripts, telling the stories behind them.
  • A New Standard - Frayling on For A Few Dollars More (20:14): Frayling discusses Leone's emerging confidence as a director.
  • Back For More - Clint Eastwood Remembers For A Few Dollars More (7:08): Another featurette with Eastwood from an interview in 2002.
  • Tre Voci - For A Few Dollars More (11:05):  Alberto Grimaldi, Sergio Donati, and Mickey Knox and their contributions to the film.
  • For A Few Dollars More - The Original American Release Version (5:18):  For the film's 1965 U.S. release, United Artists trimmed three scenes to conform with the "Man With No Name" marketing.  This is that story.
  • Location Comparisons (12:16): More comparisons between locations.
  • 12 Radio Spots (7:36): Vintage radio spots over production stills.

Theatrical Trailer 1 (2:29)

Theatrical Trailer 2 (3:44)

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