A Fistful of Dollars (15.)
Directed by Sergio Leone.
Starring Clint Eastwood, Gian Maria Volonté, Marianne Koch, Wolfgang Lukschy, Sieghardt Rupp and Joe Edger. 95 mins. 4K Restoration, back in cinemas.
In all the discussions about sequels that are better than the original, For A Few Dollars More rarely gets mentioned but it is so obviously and indisputably the correct answer. It is wittier, cleverer, grander than the first, and Morricone's score is spectacular. Only the title isn't as good, and even then only marginally so. The quality of the films in the Man With No Name trilogy Eastwood, Leone and Morricone made together in the 60s - concluding with The Good, The Bad and The Ugly - improved exponentially. It's as if the Brando had first played Don Corleone for Coppola in an enjoyable and unexpectedly successful gangster romp in the mid-sixties, which two films later had become the Godfather.
Fistful wasn't the first Spaghetti Western, but it was the first to be an international hit. At a time when the Hollywood was taking the cowboy film a bit too seriously, the Europeans blew a big raspberry at them, and in doing so, breathed new life into it. Not enough to save it, but to keep it going for a few decades more. It is a perfectly fine film but both Leone and Morricone were still feeling their way into it. There's nothing much wrong with it; it's only real flaw is the knowledge that there was so much better to come. They caught on quick, but it is striking that when these three first met, Clint is the one who was already on top of his brief. At the time, Clint's performance was general reviewed as being inferior to the assorted coffins in the film, but The Man With No Name characterisation, indeed Eastwood's whole movie star persona, is already there fully formed. There may not be much to it, but could anyone else deliver the mule soliloquy and its "I don't think it's nice, you laughin” line as well?