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For A Few Dollars More

If A Fistful of Dollars was Sergio Leone's entrance into his own style, then For A Few Dollars More is Leone's mastering of his style. Everything that was so fantastic about the first film is ramped up completely for this one. Larger sets, greater character depth, and enough action and tension for over a dozen Westerns. Add in an original screenplay, and we've got Leone's first masterpiece here.

The film revolves around three central figures, all of whom are morally ambiguous gunslingers in the days of the Old West. First, we see the return of the hero from the first film, A Fistful of Dollars, The Man With No Name - along with his signature poncho and short cigar, of course. The other two figures, on the other hand, are completely new individuals in Leone's western mythology, both of which carry old secrets with them. The one clad in black would be Colonel Douglas Mortimer, a former Civil War hero turned bounty killer. As for the other new man, 'El Indio', he's a psychotic killer/outlaw who's just been sprung from prison. What follows this introduction is a compelling narrative of morality (or the lack thereof), betrayal, revenge, and greed.

The characters in this film are completely fleshed out this time around, as opposed to the film that precedes this one, and they're all great in their own way. The Man With No Name, for instance, still remains as one of the coolest, and most stylish, antiheroes that cinema has ever seen, and his presence is definitely felt throughout the film's runtime. Lee Van Cleef, who plays Mortimer, is also very fantastic in his role. He's almost like an older, and perhaps wiser, version of the Man With No Name, as his experience and collection of guns proves. El Indio, the most villainous of the three main figures, is deliciously treacherous and cunning, and this character is only ramped up through a very great performance courtesy of Gian Marie Volonte. The one thing that binds these characters together, though, would be the mix of romanticism and grittiness in their overall characters. They all embody everything we've been taught about the West - the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's these defining traits, along with their colorful personalities, that make these people stand out as such great characters. Even the supporting cast is great, as we see all the sides of life during the old West.

In terms of cinematography, Leone only proves to outdo himself again. Here, as Leone's confidence has built up, he's begun to implement his own style into the way the camera's used. This was already present in some sequences of A Fistful of Dollars, but it's in this film that his style is far more noticeable. The close-ups, the far-off backgrounds, the lingering shots of peoples' faces - it's all these elements that make up a Sergio Leone film, and they're incredibly well-constructed and fascinating to watch.

Ennio Morricone, the only composer Leone would ever use from now onward, gives a marvelous score that just fits this film completely. Just as with the other aspects, the score is as ramped up and improved as the rest of the film. Blaring noises, hums, guitars, organs, and chimes all come to play within this brilliant score, which perfectly matches the mood of the film. Another notable thing about the score is that it introduces the operatic character-piece, which Leone would use heavily from this point onward. For example, the guitar twang appears whenever the character of Mortimer appears, the quick flute appears whenever the Man With No Name does, etc.

The pacing for the film is just perfect. Everything unfolds so naturally and smoothly, that the film never takes a nosedive into boring or stretched-out territory. All is as it should be, and this perfection is something Leone would always focus on until the day he died.

From its technical aspects to its story-orientation, this film is pretty much perfect in every way, shape, and form. The characters, score, pacing, and visuals have all been ramped up considerably, and all of these aspects tie together into a film that's just as entertaining as it subtle. If A Fistful of Dollars was a fantastic film, then For A Few Dollars More is simply a marvelous one.





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