A Fistful of Dollars was like a dynamite that exploded and shook the genre’s foundations, entering into the consciousness of its audience with a visual flair, forcing its audience to remain with such an immoral figure and only to gain a smidgen of redemption, coming out of the entered town not as a glorified hero, but returning to his previous position, as a neutral wanderer who continues to travel through, possibly finding himself into more adventures. It is from that, Sergio Leone achieves a limitless set of opportunities for his iconic protagonist, despite the fact that A Fistful of Dollars is not a direct sequel to For A Few Dollars More, its spirit remains sequential, knowing that if that character took on a more traditional ending, then our perception of For A Few Dollars More and the similarly constructed figure would have been different.
I am sure the criticisms and legal issues that came with A Fistful of Dollars, Toho Films suing the director for its strong similarities to Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, motivated him to create something bolder and expansive, thus the arrival of For A Few Dollars More; a film that shows the director improving upon his intended style, rarely does it ever now layer its scenery with an amateur spit, conveying a higher confidence in the chosen shots with his key trademarks now pushed even further for effect.
A Fistful of Dollars’ core issue was the distance I felt towards the narrative due to is transition from scene to scene jarring my orientation to time, place, and intention of its driving characters; thankfully this time in For A Few Dollars More, I found myself more orientated to the progression of its narrative, seeing richer detail on its characters, and performances are now directed with more precision and heightened gloss. Though improved, I found myself unable to completely lose within its three key characters, unlike the first one where I was able to somewhat care for their existence and symbolic stature, here I am held back, only appreciating the technical improvements they display from the initial film rather than both internally and externally.
The performances that are provided by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Gian Maria Volontè, whom all bring well suited performance within Leone’s intended melodramatic atmosphere, especially the latter who finally understood what his performance from the first film lacked, a sense of texture and emphasis that was sorely needed then and brought to full force here in For A Few Dollars More; here Volontè gives us a character far more memorable and with purer purpose, it simply isn’t just ruthlessness that defines his actions, his past and how it finally connects in the film’s wonderful finale is a testament of Leone’s ability to create mystery and added tension, much like the style of the one and only Alfred Hitchcock.
Leone’s collaboration with Ennio Morricone has shown greater chemistry here, parallel to the depiction of his characters within the frame, added texture have been given to them, achieving a great sense of atmosphere, one that refuses to repeat the loneliness of the first film, but now a clashing of diversity that when listened individually sound senseless and at times rather disturbing. Morricone tailors his compositions to the personalities that the screen presents, with Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Volontè each having a distinct soundtrack for their own, which he times with melodramatic precision.
For A Few Dollars More marks as an improvement from a technical standpoint, where Leone’s intentions are finally more at par with his exaggerated style, along with his collaboration and contribution by Morricone; but unfortunately the film lacks the narrative immersion and thought-provoking stimuli that seemed to surround the first film, coming off instead as a neat upgrade, where Leone attempts to further refine himself and prepares for his more ambitious works that would come not too far ahead.