Born in Rome, Sergio Leone had built his reputation as an assistant to the legendary Italian film director Vittorio DeSica and as an assistant director for films shot at the famous Italian Cinecitta studios, such as Quo Vadis (1951) and Ben-Hur (1959). It was not until the 1960s when Leone shifted his attention to the subgenre called Spaghetti Westerns, Italian films styled on the American western.
Leone's westerns may have been influenced by the Hollywood western especially the films of John Ford but differed significantly from them in terms of plot, characterisation and mood. Leone's vision of the American West is shown as more violent and morally complex than what was conveyed in the traditional American Western. Leone wanted to show the protagonists in his film as less moral than the conventional western character.
After the success in Italy of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), director Sergio Leone wanted to make a sequel but he knew that he required the lead star Clint Eastwood to agree to star in it. Eastwood had not yet seen the final print of A Fistful of Dollars and he had a few concerns about participating in the sequel. The US version had yet to be released and Eastwood was still relatively unknown, remembered only for playing the character of Rowdy Yates in the successful US western series Rawhide in the late 1950s. Eastwood was persuaded to make the sequel. The Dollars trilogy was to become hugely successful at the box office which built Sergio Leone's reputation and made Clint Eastwood a huge international star.
Television westerns were very popular in the 1960s especially in Italy and having Eastwood play the lead meant that Leone had a recognised face of an American TV cowboy even though Eastwood was not his first choice. Leone had Henry Fonda in mind. Leone managed to have all of his dreams realised because after Eastwood starred in the hugely successful final part of the Dollars trilogy The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in 1966, he was able to hire Henry Fonda to play a memorable villain in his classic western spaghetti epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968).
|Clint Eastwood as the iconic "Man with No Name"|
|A typical scene shot in Techniscope, an Italian invention that retains both foreground and background focus|
In For a Few Dollars More, Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef play bounty hunters who reluctantly join forces to take on the psychotic bandit El Indio (a brilliant sinister performance by Italian actor Gian Maria Volonte) and his gang (which includes Klaus Kinski as a hunchback). As in the previous film, For a Few Dollars More was filmed using Techniscope, an Italian invention that retains both foreground and background focus.This technque gives the actor less to do and so the film could become about something else which enhances the visual style.
|Sergio Leone directing Clint|
After his great films of the sixties, Sergio Leone made a only few interesting films of note and interestingly turned down the chance to direct The Godfather. It was not until 1984 when the classic gangster epic Once Upon a Time in America was released but had been re-cut before release. The restored director's cut has since been hailed as a masterpiece. Sergio Leone died of a heart attack in 1989 at the age of 60.
Despite the fact that it is not spoken about in the same regard as the other Leone films, For a Few Dollars More is a remarkably stylish and violent western. It is as hugely influential as the other films from the trilogy and more importantly, it is very entertaining.
Compilation of segments from the scores of 'A Fistful of Dollars' (1964) and 'For a Few Dollars More' (1965) by Ennio Morricone.