The bloody landscape of the Wild West continued in Sergio Leone’s second chapter of his “Dollars” trilogy. “For A Few Dollars More” improves upon the first installment, “A Fistful Of Dollars.” The plot is cleaner and joining Clint Eastwood’s Man With No Name is a very cool fellow bounty hunter dressed in black. Lee Van Cleef plays Colonel Mortimer, a former soldier armed with an array of weapons.

Mortimer and the Man form an uneasy alliance in order to track down the vicious Indio and his gang. The prize $10,000 for just Indio; a whole lot more for the entire gang.

Leone reminds audiences of the techniques he used in the first film. Yet he makes the tension grander with cut away close ups at his gunslingers’ eyes before a quick draw. A great middle moment occurs with a bank robbery. Leone strategically uses sharp edits on Eastwood, Van Cleef, Indio’s gang, the exteriors of the bank and the precious vault inside. Accompanied with Ennio Morricone’s whistler ballads, Leone continues his back and forth close ups of all involved in the scene only he speeds up the edits to build more tension and suspense. Finally, the scene is blown wide open with a moment I never expected. Great fun.

Eastwood does not invent anything new here. His costume is even the same as before. That’s the legendary image and that’s fine by me. Van Cleef is especially good. A real scene stealer with his crackling voice that tells of a past where his Mortimer character protected his boundaries by being the sharpshooter that he is.

Watching this for the first time only tells me that action films today work too hard throwing everything at you. Films today often don’t give enough about the character or the heroes. You don’t see what makes them tick. You don’t see a raw talent to the character. In this film, it is quick draw gunslinging. Look for a great scene where The Man and Mortimer meet for the first time in a quick draw duel of wits at night in the center of town. When you see how good they are with a six shooter, you believe it all.

Today, a hero’s talent is inherited by something gone awry normally. Leone leaves the mystery open as to how guys like Mortimer and The Man With No Name acquired their abilities. Why waste time on character background? Let’s just see what these cowboys can do.

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