Two bounty hunters (Eastwood and Van Cleef) with different intentions team up to track down a Western outlaw.
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The second film in The Man with No Name Trilogy or Dollars Trilogy puts Clint Eastwood back in the boots of the iconic character he made famous in the previous film A Fistful of Dollars. This time The Man with No Name must team up with another bounty hunter played by veteran actor Lee Van Cleef, also known for playing cowboys in western films. If you look closely, you might notice him in High Noon as one of Miller’s men.
Sergio Leonie again proves his passion for not only the western genre, but for film in general and creates a fun exciting movie that honors the traditional western mythology. His characters are heroes but of a different breed. These are not the John Wayne or Gary Cooper heroes. They can be cold when needed, they’ll if kill if necessary and steal if an opportunity arises.
Yet like all his films, the theme remains the same; good versus evil with characters that share both traits. Eastwood certainly took notice of Leonie’s treatment and development of characters, and used what his mentor taught him in his own films including Unforgiven. William Munny, the protagonist in Eastwood’s film, is a darker version of the Man with No Name whose life of crime, killing, and stealing are put aside for a married life with children. Munny settles down for a quiet life only to be pulled back into his past life of murder and mayhem. The Man with No Name is not quite extreme, however Eastwood’s interpretation or understanding of the character can be viewed in the creation of William Munny.
A great scene between the two as no words are exchanged; the characters simply size each other up and begin firing as a form of friendly intimidation. Neither one is looking to kill the other, just trying to mark their territory. Since no one backs down, a deal is made between the two and a friendship gradually develops throughout the film.
Friendship among men is another theme Leonie touches on in his films. Unlikely characters with different dispositions yet similar styles or outlook on life are natural enemies but still form a bond. Initially they have a distain or distrust for one another but over time circumstances allows them to understand their counterpart. That’s not to say they set aside their difference to become best friends, on the contrary, Once Upon a Time in the West is a parable for such an idea. The two lead characters oppose one another yet still maintain a mutual respect. In the end, both face off with one killing the other.
For a Few Dollars more may not be the best in the trilogy, that title might belong to its successor The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Yet Leonie still creates a masterpiece of cinematic perfection with excellent editing and fine performances. Ennio Morricone returns as the composer providing some memorable music that only enhances Leonie’s imagination for the western mythology. Part of what makes Leonie’s western films appealing is the compelling musical score by Morricone. Every time you think of the Man with No Name, at least one of Morricone scores accompanies that image of the gunman, and rightly so, because part of the experience with Leonie’s films is encompassing all elements that make them so memorable for all generations of cinema lovers.