Italian director Sergio Leone changed the face of the Western genre in 1964 when he introduced what would be known as the "Spaghetti Western" with the brilliant "Per un Pugno di Dollari" ("A Fistful of Dollars"). Not only the films looked grittier, violent and realistic; the characters in Leone's westerns became complex men with complex and obscure moral codes, very far away from the classic clear moral opposites of previous westerns. "Per Qualche Dollaro in più" ("For a few dollars more"), is the epitome of all this. It is a powerful, raw and ruthless masterpiece that transcended its genre and became one of the best movies of all-time.
"For a Few Dollars More", the second in the so-called "Dollars trilogy" (a group of films by Leone with the same style), is the story of two different yet very similar men, Manco (Clint Eastwood) and the Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee Van Cleef) are two bounty hunters who are after the criminal named "El Indio" (Gian Maria Volontè). An unlikely alliance occurs between the two lone wolves as they decide to cooperate and divide the reward, but are these two killers after "Indio" for the same reason?
Written by Fulvio Morsella and Sergio Leone himself, the film's main characteristic is the complex moral code the main characters follow. They are no longer the perfect clean heroes of classic westerns, both Manco and the Colonel have well-developed attitudes, motivations and purposes; they are neither completely good nor completely bad, they are just real. The story unfolds with a fine pace and good rhythm, it is probably the best structured of the "Trilogy" and the easiest to follow. It is also the one that represents the elements of the Spaghetti Western style the best.
Stylistically, the film follows closely the conventions established by Leone's previous film but it takes them to the next level. The excellent use of minimalistic cinematography and the superb musical score by Ennio Morricone complement Leone's realistic vision of Westerns and completely redefined the genre's conventions. "For a Few Dollars More" is a violent tale of two hunters, and visually the film transmits the same emotions the characters feel. No more myths, the Westerns never felt this real.
Clint Eastwood's super performance as Manco is very important for the success of the film, as he is the one that takes the audience through this brave new world, however, the star of the film is Lee Van Cleef as Colonel Mortimer. In one of his best performances ever, Van Cleef manages to be both menacing and interesting, giving life to Leone's brilliant script with great talent. Gian Maria Volontè as Indio complements the two big talents as the crazed criminal with a dark past, he is the perfect counterpart of the two lone wolves.
"Per qualche dollaro in più" is a near flawless movie, as every piece of the puzzle falls into the right place to create a marvelous and unforgettable picture. It's only minor problem may be the dubbing, but fortunately, it still is superior to the one heard in other Italian productions of the same time and it doesn't hurt the film.
Fans will always argue about which of the three films of the "trilogy" is the best, and while personally I prefer "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" over this one, it is just a matter of personal taste as this film is as perfect as that one. A real classic that changed the face of Western as we knew it. 10/10