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For a Few Dollars More (a J!-ent Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 29, 2011 by  



Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood are back in the sequel to “A Fistful of Dollars”.  Featuring Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef together in an exciting action-packed sequel worth watching and a Blu-ray release worth owning!

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Images courtesy of © 1965 Alberto Grinaldi Productions S.A. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: For A Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più)

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1965

DURATION: 132 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English Mono, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French

RATED: R

COMPANY: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Twentieth Century Fox

RELEASE DATE: August 2, 2011

Directed by Sergio Leone

Scenario by Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella

Screenplay by Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone

Produced by Arturo Gonzalez, Alberto Grimaldi

Music by Ennio Morricone

Cinematography by Massimo Dallamano

Edited by Eugenio Alabiso, Giorgio Serrallonga

Starring:

Clint Eastwood as Monco (Stranger, The Man with No Name)

Lee Van Cleef as Col. Douglas Mortimer

Gian Maria Volonte as El Indo

Mara Krupp as Mary – The Innkeeper

Luigi Pistilli as Groggy, Member of Indio’s Gang

Klaus Kinski as Wild

Panos Papadopulos as Sancho Perez

Benito Stefanelli as Luke

Aldo Sambrell as Cuccillo

When two rival bounty hunters (Oscar winner Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) learn they’re both after the same murderous bandit, they join forces in hopes of bringing him to justice.  But all is not as it seems in the hard-hitting second installment of Sergio Leone’s trilogy starring Eastwood as the famed “Man with No Name”.

The sequel to Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western classic “A Fistful of Dollars”, “For a Few Dollars More” brings back Clint Eastwood along with Lee Van Cleef in a wonderful action-packed, violent western that will entertain Leone fans!

The 1960’s, a time when Westerns was no longer a popular genre for young Americans and were films looked at as movies for your father or grandfather.

While America had a few Westerns that were doing well, internationally the appeal of the genre was also starting to wane.  That is until an Italian director named Sergio Leone put his spin and stylized the Western genre which would become known as the Spaghetti Western (films typically made with a low-budget, shot in Europe where the locations resembled America, dialogue added later and directed by Italian director).

“A Fistful of Dollars” would introduce the world to Leone’s cool visual style (incorporating a John Ford and Akira Kurosawa style), a character that would kill without any explanation and a look and style that would be catchy with a younger generation and feature cool music courtesy of composer Ennio Morricone.  And like “A Fistful of Dollars”, “For A Few Dollars More” would feature Morricone’ music created before production of the film and Leone would shoot the film to Morricone’s music.

“For A Few Dollars” like the original film would do well in the box office, in the United States…bringing in over $5 million and would lead to one more film for the trilogy titled “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” (1966).

While “The Good, The Bad and “The Ugly” was released on Blu-ray in 1999, the trilogy was released in Blu-ray in 2010.  But for those who owned the third film, many have been waiting for the single Blu-ray releases of “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More”. So, MGM/Twentieth Century Fox are now releasing these two Blu-rays in August 2011.

“For a Few Dollars More” would introduce us to Colonel Douglas Mortimer (played by Lee Van Cleef) who is a bounty hunter and we see how he is experienced in firearms and is known to catch the land’s most wanted criminals.  But he is not the only one… there is also the Man with No Name, the stranger (played by Clint Eastwood) who is also a bounty hunter known for catching the criminals.  He is also referenced by the Mexicans as “Manco” (which translates to “one-armed” in Spanish).

Both men are now in pursuit of one of the deadliest killers in the land.  His name is “El Indio” (played by Gian Maria Volonte), a fugitive and a ruthless, intelligent man who carries around a musical pocketwatch which he uses in duels.  We learn that the stopwatch belonged to a man who Indio killed and that man’s girlfriend, he raped and while raping her, she killed herself with his gun and now he is haunted by her.

Needless to say, both men are very much into their jobs but are very similar to each other.  They want money and so both eventually butt heads with each other, but eventually decide to take down Indio and his gang, who are expected to rob the heavily guarded Bank of El Paso.  Moretimer convinces Manco that he should try to infiltrate Indio’s gang and join them, so that would give him a chance to get at Indio.  So, Manco saves Indio’s friend from prison and eventually becomes a member of the gang.  And Moretimer eventually follows and both become a member of Indio’s gang.

That is until Indio gets a sense that the two may be bounty hunters and he has plans to have them killed.

Will the stranger and Mortimer survive this encounter with one of the most dangerous fugitives and his gang?

VIDEO:

“For a Few Dollars More” is presented in 1080p High Definition (widescreen 2:35:1).  Once again, the detail and clarity is much better than its DVD counterpart and the picture quality of “For a Few Dollars More” is much better than “A Fistful of Dollars”.  There is less softness, grain is present but you will notice quite a bit of white speckles from time-to-time.

But still, compared to the original DVD release, there is much more clarity when it comes to the closeups of the characters, the guns and much more detail.  Black levels are nice and deep, close-ups look very good and for the most part, the film looks very good on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“For a Few Dollars More” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Mono and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  And one thing that I noticed compared to “A Fistful of Dollars” was how the lossless soundtrack sounds great from the surround channels.  From the opening scene of Mortimer in the train, you can hear the train screech and bump through the surround channels, also there is a better use of the action sequences and ambiance through the surround channels with this film compared to “A Fistful of Dollars”.

Also, Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack sounds fantastic via lossless.  So, for the most part…”For a Few Dollars More” is an action film does benefit from its lossless soundtrack and much better than its DVD counterpart.

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“For a Few Dollars More” includes the following special features:

  • The Christopher Frayley Archives: For a Few Dollars More – (19:00) Sir Christopher Frayling showcases his collection of art, posters, documents and scripts acquired of “For a Few Dollars More”.
  • Audio Commentary – Featuring a wonderful, in-depth commentary by noted film historian Sir Christopher Frayling.
  • A New Standard – Frayling on “For a Few Dollars More” – (20:14) Presented in standard definition, Sir Christopher Frayling talks about the increased budget for the film but also the casting and more.
  • Back for More – (7:08) on August 2003, Clint Eastwood was in Spain where he was interviewed about “For a Few Dollars More”.
  • Tre Voci: For a Few Dollars More – (11:05) Interview with producer Alberto Grimaldi, screenwriter Sergio Donati and actor Micky Knox and a look at alternate scenes and releases.
  • For a Few Dollars More – Original American Release Version – (5:18) The US Release had a minor trimmed version compared to what was show in Europe.  Featured are the three cuts that were made in the American version.
  • Location Comparisons: Then to Now – (12:16) Featuring how things looked for the location of “For a Few Dollars More” back in 1965 and how the locations look in 2004.
  • 12 Radio spots – (7:36) Featuring 12 radio spots for “For a Few Dollars More”.
  • For a Few Dollars More Trailers – Two theatrical trails for “For a Few Dollars More”.

The sequel to “A Fistful of Dollars” features a Sergio Leone film with a slightly bigger budget and immediately, Leone wanted to make a sequel.

At first Eastwood was reluctant, but after seeing the response by the Italians towards the film, he agreed to appear in the sequel for $50,000 and Lee Van Cleef for $17,000.  With a higher budget and now a feature film rather than a low-budget independent, once again, Leone’s Spaghetti Western won over audiences with its visual style, its characters, its humor, action and violence.

In the sequel, Gian Maria Volonte, the evil antagonist of the first film is back playing the character of El Indio (The Indian) and this villain is more vile than ever.  A psychopath, a drug user, a rapist, a killer of men, women and children.  And this time, the odds of the Man with No Name not succeeding is much higher, so this time round, he is paired with Col. Douglas Moretimer (played by Lee Van Cleef), another weapons expert.

While I did enjoy the sequel, I felt of the three films, it would be my least favorite of the three and that is because it was more of a duo film rather than focusing on Clint Eastwood’s character.  That is what I loved about “A Fistful of Dollars”, it was the underdog sense of one man against impossible odds and yet, he managed to win.  It’s somewhat of the same situation but now you have two men taking on a psychopath and his gang but it diverts the attention away from the Man with No Name.   I was wanting to see more Clint Eastwood than Lee Van Cleef but I understand why Van Cleef’s Moretimer plays a significant role in the film (which I can’t mention because it would spoil the film).

But still, with “For a Few Dollars More” being my least favorite of the trilogy, doesn’t mean it’s bad at all. It’s a very entertaining action Western with a lot of gunfights, action and one cool standoff at the end of the film.  Considering the amount of violence featured in the film during that time, I can imagine how audiences may have been surprised by it in 1965.

As for the Blu-ray release, similar to the first film, it’s jammed with special features and that is a major plus!  Picture quality is better than “A Fistful of Dollars” and with the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, there is more use of the surround channels.

Overall, you really can’t go wrong with this film.  If you bought “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”, then you just need the first two films.  Otherwise, if are interested in this Blu-ray and also the other two films, then definitely go for the trilogy box set on Blu-ray.

“For a Few Dollars More” is recommended!

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