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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2010

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"The Man With No Name Trilogy – For A Few Dollars More" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Chris Eberle

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Synopsis

In the second installment of the trilogy, the Man With No Name (Eastwood) is roaming the wild west in the role of bounty hunter.  With his fighting skill and prowess with a six-shooter, he has little trouble finding villains to cash in on.  This time, he has a rival; a retired Army Colonel named Douglas Mortimer (Van Cleef).  Mortimer is also highly skilled and rides with an arsenal of exotic weapons to dispatch bad guys with.  After the Man and Mortimer meet up in El Paso, they decide to work together to capture the insane criminal, El Indio.  Indio and his gang are ruthless in their pursuit of money and they hatch a plan to rob a fortress-like bank.  The Man infiltrates the gang and tries to lead them into an ambush.  This plot fails and he is captured along with Mortimer.  Eventually, Indio’s craziness is his undoing and he is defeated in a classic Western duel.  Mortimer and the Man part ways and collect a sizeable reward for the entire gang plus the booty for recovering the stolen bank money.

 

Specifications

  • MGM
  • 1965, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 12 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: AVC
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Gian Maria Volonté
  • Directed by Sergio Leone
    Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: No

Commentary

I enjoyed this film far more than A Fistful of Dollars.  The story was more engaging and the action scenes showed far better choreography.  Clint Eastwood once again does most of his acting with facial expressions and eye movements.  Lee Van Cleef is superb as the mature cool-headed bounty hunter.  His skill with a variety of interesting weapons is fun to watch.  I recognized several of the same actors in this film who were killed in the last chapter.  Despite the low-budget feel, this movie is a directorial tour-de-force.  The camera work is quite artistic with facial close-ups used to great effect.  The script is not exactly a gem but this film is more visually driven.  Dialog is not all that important and doesn’t really add or detract from the experience.  I’m not usually a fan of Westerns but this movie just might become a permanent part of my library.

Technical

Video quality is an improvement over A Fistful of Dollars.  Film grain is still evident but entirely appropriate.  It really adds to the dirty, grimy feel of the story.  Color is richly saturated and completely natural.  I doubt the detail level could be any higher.  The pores, dirt and razor stubble on actor’s faces had me reaching for a bar of soap and a shaver.  The restoration of this now 45-year-old film is nearly perfect.  The only flaws are occasional scratches and edge enhancement.  I know I harp on this issue but I will do this until telecine operators stop adding unnecessary artifacts to otherwise quality material.  For people who like the ringing, there’s always the sharpness control on your TV.  It just doesn’t need to be added to the content.  Contrast performance is equal to that of more recent films.  Blacks are extremely deep with no crushing of detail.  Outdoor scenes, which comprise most of the film, are bright and three-dimensional.  This is the best restoration I’ve seen in recent memory.

The DTS Master Audio track is about as good as it can be.  The sound engineers did a good job converting the original monaural mix to 5.1.  The sub doesn’t have much to do but the surrounds are used effectively for panning effects.  Dialog is entirely overdubbed and sounds very flat.  Only Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef manage to sync their lines properly.  The other actors are not only out-of-time; they sometimes say different things entirely.  Sound effects are limited to a few different gunshot noises used over and over.  I doubt modern technology could improve the sound any further.  The excellent score was written by Ennio Moricone.  It includes some amplified recorder and a very talented whistler.  It’s a bit more Hollywood than A Fistful of Dollars but still extremely well-done.

Extras

Bonus features are about the same as for A Fistful of Dollars.  There are documentaries and interviews with Clint Eastwood and historian Christopher Frayling as well as a commentary track.  Also included are 12 radio ads and two theatrical trailers.  All in all it’s a very full set of extras.