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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • French: DTS 5.1 Surround
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, French, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Commentary - English, Commentary - French
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 6 Featurette
  • 6 Radio spot

For a Few Dollars More (Sony)

United Artists/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 126 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Sergio Leone, flushed with the surprise success of his spaghetti-Western A Fistful of Dollars, rustled up a new producer, a bigger budget and came up trumps with one of the greatest Westerns from any country, in any era.

For a Few Dollars More is way ahead of its predecessor in plotting, direction, and assured story-telling. Clint Eastwood is back, though in a different role -- as Manco, a necessarily-ruthless bounty-hunter.

He's joined by Gian Maria Volonte as El Indio, the psychopathic killer who Clint sets out to claim for bounty, along with his bank-robbing gang. Gian was also chief villain in A Fistful of Dollars -- this time his persona is even more evil. This man is not just bad; he's plain loco. Watch for the scene while he orgasms on screen as he has a mother and child slain in front of him -- and then has a post-orgasm joint. They just don't shoot scenes like that any more.

And watch for the new, potent ingredient -- the addition to the cast of Lee Van Cleef, a highy professional American bit-actor (usually the third villain from the left in innumerable Westerns), who features here as Clint's rival - a bounty-hunter named Colonel Mortimer, who has a special reason to track down mad-dog El Indio. In frame after frame he matches Clint Eastwood in powerful screen presence. He doesn't really have to say anything -- he has The Look.

The Spanish landscape, the Mission architecture of deserted churches and crumbling pueblos, and Leone's own grandly-constructed wooden frontier towns combine to create a strangely unearthly setting for his tale of violence and retribution. And he draws masterful performances from a rich cast, with Gian Maria Volonte's over-the-top theatrical acting (sort of an Italian Laurence Olivier) contrasting in appropriately horrific style against the downplayed coolness of Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef.

After watching this, I'm not sure which of the Leone trilogy is the greatest achievement -- this, or the third in the series, the splendidly-epic The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I guess I'll just have to settle down and watch them all over again ......

  Video
Contract

Unlike for A Fistful of Dollars, producer Albert Grimaldi was able to supply MGM with brand-new material for this transfer. While Fistful certainly didn't suffer from being reworked from older sources, the use of new material has made this transfer into true demonstration quality. This wild-west is bigger, brighter and better than ever.

  Audio
Contract

We're given a choice of English or French Surround channels, in either Dolby or DTS, and both are magnificent, especially in the full play they give to the fine score by Ennio Morricone. The soundtrack is richer and stronger than in Fistful, with more sweeping themes and a more classically-evocative feel -- though with a strong use of vernacular sources. But just wait till you re-hear (or hear for the first time) his theme-music for the third in the series, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly ......

Traditionalists will miss the presence of the original mono soundtrack, so carefully prepared and layered by Leone. But the new treatment is certainly spectacular, and is probably what would have been presented at the time, if Leone had the resources back then.

  Extras
Contract

The first extra feature is an audio commentary, delivered by enthusiast Sir Christopher Frayling, who also gave the audio commentary for Fistful. Similar stuff; a mixture of the interesting and the infuriating; he's a highly-opinionated commentator with some very strange views.

The second disc gives us several featurettes under the sub-head Exclusive Documentaries and New Footage. First up is a 19-minute documentary narrated by Frayling, A New Standard, which tells the story of the making of the sequel.

Then there's Back for More, an interview recorded in August 2003 with Clint Eastwood, with his reminisces about the making of the movie. This was recorded at the same as the similar interview which accompanies Fistful in its new Special Edition.

This runs for only seven minutes, but is fascinating throughout. Most interesting is Clint's claim that he, not Leone, developed the key attributes of his character. "I had total freedom in the character", he says, explaining that this was simply because he and Leone couldn't speak the same language....

As with the Fistful pack, we then move to a 10-minute featurette, Three Voices, with producer Albert Grimaldi, screenwriter Sergio Donati and voice-dubber Mickey Knox reminiscing about the good old days.

Finally in this section, there's a Restoration Italian Style four-minute featurette, a very unriveting tale of restoration told by MGM's John Kirk.

Moving right along, we come to the special feature The American Version - Extended Scenes.

This examines how some of the original release versions back in 1965 were different than today's definitive issue, and shows scenes before and after restoration.

Back in 1965, the most important trim deleted a character namiing Clint's character as Manco, which means having a hand or arm maimed, sometimes deliberately maimed to denote a thief. United Artists chopped this reference out, so that they could pretend that Clint was playing the same character as in Fistful, and continue to promote him as 'The Man With No Name'. The other two trims are pretty irrelevant compared to that one.

Then we have a 12-minute Location Comparison featurette showing how time has affected things since the film was shot. Pueblos look the same, a derelict church is now sparkling as if new, the landscapes feature some new roads and electric light poles......

Finally, we're given, under the heading Original Promotional Material, six American radio spots, and two theatrical trailers, the first for this movie, and the second for a double bill for it and its predecessor.

  Overall  
Contract

Here's some more indispensable gold. This is really a no-brainer; I can't imagine we'll be offered a better edition than this -- well, not for at least three or four years when we're busy replacing DVDs with their high-definition successsor. Go get it.


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  •  DVD NET Gold Review List 
      And I quote...
    "There's Gold in them thar hills, as Sergio Leone commits to celluloid the second in his great Clint Eastwood Western trilogy. "
    - Anthony Clarke
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DVD 655A
    • TV:
          Loewe Ergo 68cm 100Hz
    • Receiver:
          Denon AVR-2801
    • Speakers:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Centre Speaker:
          Neat Acoustics PETITE
    • Surrounds:
          Celestian (50W)
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
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    "Forget that this is a silent movie. This 1927 classic has more expression, movement and sheer beauty (along with its comedy) than 99 per cent of films made today."

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