Two bounty-hunters, the vengeance-seeking Colonel Mortimer and the purely mercenary Monco, track the flamboyantly insane outlaw El Indio who has wronged Mortimers family. El Indio, meanwhile, plans to rob a supposedly impregnable bank in El Paso.
The second of Sergio Leone’s ‘Dollars’ trilogy brings back Clint Eastwood as the poncho-clad, cheroot-chewing gunman from A Fistful of Dollars. Though he was promoted as ‘the Man With No Name’, the character was called ‘Joe’ in the first film, ‘Monco’ here (it means ‘one-handed’ in Spanish, and relates obscurely to a leather half-gauntlet which is his signature garment) and would be ‘Blondy’ in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
Though Eastwood takes top-billing, he actually plays a secondary role to Lee Van Cleef’s hawk-eyed, pipe-puffing supercool avenger, who has so many trick guns in his saddle-blanket and such snappy clothes that he seems like 007’s great-grandfather out West. With supreme irony, both naturally English-speaking leads have almost no dialogue while the Italian Volonté spots reams of maniacal talk as the near-messianic villain, who shoots babies, smokes dope, has bizarre laughing jags (as immortalised on his ‘wanted’ poster, which seems to have been silkscreened by Andy Warhol), kills his own men on a whim, fetishises a chiming musical watch and finally remembers the terrible thing he did to Mortimer’s sister during one of Leone’s greatest duel/corrida scenes.
It doesn’t have the perfect plot Fistful poached from Yojimbo (which Kurosawa had stolen from Dashiell Hammett) and tends, like all subsequent Leone films, to be a serial-like string of individually outstanding scenes rather than a story. Nevertheless, it has a wealth of marvellous Western imagery, grotesque-comic business (Van Cleef striking a match on seething baddie Klaus Kinski’s hunchback), Ennio Morricone’s baroque score, iconic stars and unforgettable supporting faces.
Doesn't have the narrative strength of the first in the trilogy but individual scenes are still brilliant and each ingredient in just perfect, cast, score, tone...