For a Few Dollars More: Special Edition (Per Qualche Dollaro in Piů) (1965)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 22-Aug-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Sir Christopher Frayling (Biographer Of Sergio Leone )
Featurette-A New Standard
Featurette-Back For More
Featurette-Tre Voci/Three Voices
Featurette-Restoration Italian Style
Featurette-The American Release Version - Extended Scenes
Featurette-Location Comparisons
Radio Spots-12
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Double Bill Trailer
Gallery-Photo-Collector's Gallery
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1965
Running Time 126:18
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:54)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sergio Leone
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Clint Eastwood
Lee Van Cleef
Gian Maria Volonté
Mara Krupp
Luigi Pistilli
Klaus Kinski
Joseph Egger
Panos Papadopulos
Benito Stefanelli
Roberto Camardiel
Aldo Sambrell
Luis Rodríguez
Tomás Blanco
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Ennio Morricone


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Colonel Douglas Mortimer (Lee van Cleef) and Manco (Clint Eastwood) are a pair of bounty hunters who overcome their mutual distrust and join together to go after Indio (Gian Maria Volonte), a dope-smoking psychopathic bandit who plans to rob the bank in El Paso. Manco is only interested in the reward money, but Mortimer has more personal reasons for wanting to get Indio.

    A Fistful of Dollars was a considerable success in Italy in 1964, so a follow-up was inevitable. Unlike the first film, the Italian cast and crew this time had their real names instead of fake Anglo pseudonyms. For example, director Sergio Leone had been credited on Fistful as "Bob Robertson".

    I have to confess it's been more than twenty years since I have seen either of these movies, and I really have little recollection of the first instalment. I decided not to view the initial DVD releases due to their lack of widescreen enhancement. Therefore I cannot provide a critique of the quality of this film in comparison to its predecessor. However, most critics see For a Few Dollars More as the more sophisticated of the two, and certainly it is a very fine film indeed, one of the best Westerns of the 1960s. Of the movies in this genre of the decade that were better than this one, at least two were directed by Leone.

    In something of an accidental masterstroke in casting, Leone travelled to Los Angeles to sign van Cleef on to the project, having already confirmed Clint Eastwood's return. Initially actors like Henry Fonda and Lee Marvin were considered, but when those fell through Leone remembered one of those character actors in Westerns of the 1950s, and eventually met him in a Los Angeles restaurant on a Friday night to offer him the part. van Cleef had fallen on relatively hard times. A car accident had restricted his mobility a few years earlier, and he must have thought his big screen career was over, not having made a movie for three years. As luck would have it, For a Few Dollars More would become the most successful Italian film to that time, and he would find himself an unlikely star at the age of 40. He seems to spend much of the film with a suppressed grin. Both the Italian and American film industries would find plenty of work for him over the next two decades before his premature death from a heart attack in 1989.

    van Cleef provides an excellent foil for the character of Manco, played by Clint Eastwood in what is virtually a reprisal of his role in the earlier film. The revelation of his name was removed from the American release print to allow the US studios to bill him as The Man With No Name, but as "manco" was often used to describe someone with a damaged hand or arm, often inflicted for the crime of theft, and Eastwood has a leather gauntlet for one wrist, it's possible that this is merely a nickname. He plays a laid back, laconic character who is less moral than Mortimer. Over the course of the film their relationship develops, a theme to which Leone would return again and again.

    Other themes and traits were developed by Leone in his five Westerns, such as the circular locations for duels, the religious iconography, the use of clothing to delineate character, and the use of music as cues for dramatic and comedic sequences. All are present in this movie. There is also a great deal of humour, such as when Mortimer strikes a match on a hunchbacked henchman's hump - a character played with Klaus Kinski's usual twitching intensity.

    This movie is very entertaining and satisfying. At a time when the American Western was in the doldrums, the result of far too many Western movies and TV series in the 1950s, it came as a breath of fresh air to the genre. It also started a vast industry in Italy, which produced as many as 60 "Spaghetti Westerns" a year in the latter part of the 1960s. Few were of this quality, nor did they pay homage to the American versions through references to specific films and archetypes. Italian Westerns quickly became merely genre programmes and quickly went the way of their American counterparts.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Unfortunately, this is not an ideal transfer. It is rife with edge enhancement, producing haloes around objects and reducing the overall clarity of the image. While there is considerable detail visible, it often does not look as sharp as it should. The use of Techniscope for the widescreen photography allowed for a greater depth of field than traditional anamorphic lenses, and Leone took considerable advantage of this, with lots of compositions having a character in close-up with action going on in the background. The edge enhancement on smaller objects in the background is therefore more noticeable than usual, and even on what is a relatively small widescreen image on an 86cm display I found it distracting.

    Otherwise the film is in excellent condition, with few film artefacts. There are occasional dark scratches and one instance of blue spots, plus the usual tiny white specks. The movie probably has not looked this good in decades, the result of a restoration from various sources. There are some grainy sequences and there is low level noise visible at times.

    Colour is very good, with flesh tones coming across well. The intense light of the locations in Spain gives the production the feel of the South-West of the United States where the film is set, with primary colours leeched of vividness and whites particularly strong. Contrast levels are very good.

    The disc comes with optional subtitles in various languages. The English subtitles are close to the English dialogue, and are in a large and easy to read white font.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change barely noticeable at 62:54.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 5.1. There is also a DTS 5.1 mix. I listened to the latter and sampled the former.

    Well, if you were hoping for the original mono mix, be prepared to be disappointed, because it is not there. The surround mix is not a convincing one. Most of the time it is firmly directed to the front channels, with rear channel activity confined to music and effects. Annoyingly, the dialogue moves about in the three front channels according to the angle of the camera. For example, if a character is shown talking in the centre of the frame, the dialogue comes from the centre channel. If the camera angle changes to shown the person being spoken to in right profile, the voice of the speaker suddenly moves to the right. This seems to have been done in order to keep the soundstage in synchronisation with the visual arrangement, but in practice it does not work, and becomes irritating.

    The subwoofer gets quite a workout, especially in musical sequences. Personally, I thought it was excessive and distracting.

    Dialogue is quite clear, though the volume levels need to be raised for all of it to be audible. Despite the surround treatment of the audio, it still sounds like a mono mix, being slightly boxy and lacking in dynamic range.

    Ennio Morricone's music survives the remastering of the audio, and still sounds fresh and innovative. There are pre-echoes of his great score for Leone's next Western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track does not seem to sound significantly different to the DTS track, though as usual it comes at a lower volume level. Curiously, the alternative language tracks are in French. I would have preferred to have the original Italian audio, with the dubbing that is referred to in the audio commentary. However, the English dub can be considered authentic. The film was shot silent and the audio was tacked on later in post-production. Eastwood and van Cleef dubbed their own voices, as did the non-English speaking Volonte who spoke his lines phonetically. Audio sync is reasonable if rarely entirely accurate.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    All of the extras are subtitled and 16x9 enhanced unless stated otherwise. All bar the audio commentary are on a second disc.

Main Menu Introduction

    A brief introduction with some footage from the film.

Menu Animation & Audio

    Morricone's music is heard beneath some footage from the film.

Audio Commentary-Sir Christopher Frayling (Biographer Of Sergio Leone)

    Frayling has a pleasant speaking voice and is very knowledgeable about Leone and the production of the film. He does speak a lot about what is happening on screen but most of the time it is to put it into the context of Leone's style or the film's production. A few times he simply puts things in narrative context, which any viewer could do themselves. Still, this is a very good commentary with few dead spots. Unfortunately it sounds as though it was recorded over a telephone from Frayling's shower cubicle.

    A good feature for the hard of hearing is that the commentary has subtitles in several languages including English.

Featurette-A New Standard (19:24)

    A good introduction to the movie by Frayling, being not dissimilar to the audio commentary in content.

Featurette-Back For More (6:50)

    A 2003 interview with Eastwood giving his recollections of the movie.

Featurette-Tre Voci/Three Voices (10:37)

    This featurette has the recollections of producer Alberto Grimaldi, co-screenwriter Sergio Donati and voice actor Mickey Knox.

Featurette-Restoration Italian Style (4:42)

    A short piece on the restoration of the movie by the MGM executive in charge of the project.

Featurette-The American Release Version - Extended Scenes (5:04)

    Several scenes from the film were longer in the European release than the American release, and vice versa. This featurettes compares each scene by showing both. This extra is in 1.33:1.

Featurette-Location Comparisons (11:45)

    A longish and eventually tedious look at the locations as they looked in the film, with 2004 stills of how they look now. The latter are quite touristy, with someone usually posing in the frame. Parts of the El Paso set seems to have been converted into a tourist attraction.

Radio Spots-12 (7:00)

    Some repetitive radio advertisements of varying lengths.

Theatrical Trailer (3:39)

    An original theatrical trailer for the US release.

Trailer-Double Bill Trailer (1:57)

    A scratchy double-bill trailer for this film together with A Fistful of Dollars for when they screened on a double-bill (obviously).

Gallery-Photo-Collector's Gallery (1:57)

    Some production stills including a couple of behind the scenes photos.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    At present there seems to be no US Region 1 release of the new edition of the movie. The old edition is not on a dual-layered disc and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The previous Region 4 release was not 16x9 enhanced and had a distinct lack of extras.

    The UK Region 2 release seems to be identical to the new Region 4 release.

    Unless you prefer to buy your discs at a higher price in the UK, there is no reason not to prefer the Region 4.

Summary

    An immensely entertaining and mythic Western, a popular classic.

    The restoration is excellent, but the video transfer suffers from edge enhancement.

    The audio quality is good, but there really should be a mono mix as an option for purists.

    A very good selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Cheaper in the UK - cztery
Why no mono mix? - J Sebastian
Remastered 5.1 superior to mono - Mark X (read my bio)
re: Remastered 5.1 superior to mono - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
Roger pretty much said it all for me - J Sebastian
Remastered 5.1 sound - cztery