For A Few Dollars More needs an uncut English release

Sergio Leone’s masterpiece For a Few Dollars More (Per qualche dollaro in più, 1965) has seen a lot of DVD and even a couple of Blu-Ray releases over the years. What some people don’t know is that all the MGM (and even the Paramount release from Germany) releases contain only a cut version of the film, with some other problems as well. The film has existed uncut on VHS and TV screenings, but for some reason this has not been the case with English language releases of the movie on DVD & Blu-Ray. TLEFilms & Paramount tried in Germany back in 2005 but ultimately failed. Their disc is an improvement over the MGM ones but not enough. To be clear, despite some claims around the internet the German DVD is cut. The beating scene is longer but not uncut.

There isn’t much footage missing from the existing discs, but as far as I’m concerned For a Few Dollars More is a film deserving a proper uncut and otherwise excellent release. I’m sick and tired of this film getting more and more new releases which all contain the same problems. MGM has had some money problems lately (situation in late 2010) so I’m not sure if they can do anything about it soon, but I don’t care who does it, as long as someone does.

What follows on this page is information (with screenshots and later video) about all the cuts and other problems the English language (and others) discs of For A Few Dollars More suffer from. All of this is presented with the hope that enough attention will ultimately lead to a proper release of the film, no matter if it takes five years or ten. So if you feel like me, please spread the word and maybe a miracle will happen someday.

Full version of For a Few Dollars More available in Italy

There are a couple of uncut releases (and a few cut ones) available in Italy, but unlike with A Fistful of Dollars the companies don’t have the rights for the English track and thus the film is only available with Italian language options.:
* A very old, now out of print, DVD release from CVC that presents the film in an incorrect aspect ratio of about 2.00:1.

* A couple of years old DVD (with normal and special edition with a book available) by Mondo Home Entertainment from a recent restoration by Sky Cinema and Cineteca Bologna which has the film in correct aspect ratio (approximately, as it is slightly cropped). Unfortunately something seems to have gone wrong when doing the DVD as it is way too soft and blurry. I’d recommend to avoid even if you can understand Italian.

* And finally a Blu-Ray release from the same restoration as the Mondo Home DVD. Quality is good, but could be better and the image is slightly cropped.

The Missing Scenes of For a Few Dollars More

1. The Beating

The biggest missing scene on the MGM discs is the so called ‘beating scene’ which features Indio’s men beating the shit out of Eastwood and Van Cleef. Well, actually most of the scene is of course there but about 30 seconds or so is missing and this includes dialogue. The German disc from Paramount was supposed to restore this scene and they almost did it as the dialogue parts are now there but around 11 seconds or so is still missing during the beating itself.

The missing dialogue from MGM discs:

Indio: Stop it!
Indio: “Ninõ, see that they’re tied securely”
Indio: “Slim, keep your eye on them.”
Groggy: “Why let them live?”
Indio: “All things at the right time”
Groggy: “What do you mean?”

The following images are all from the beating scene and some of them are missing from both MGM and Paramount (numbers 1-4 and 6) and the rest of them are not present on the MGM discs. The first image is roughly the place where the cuts start, and both MGM and Paramount cut off couple of frames before and Paramount’s version continues from to the part where Indio jumps from the wall while MGM jumps straight to the end where Indio has already left the scene and is talking about the Sheriff of El Paso.

And from the following six images, only the second one (top right) is missing from the German disc while none of them are present on the MGM discs. This is the part where the missing dialogue is spoken.

2. The Walk

In early part of the movie after Eastwood’s character Manco lights his cigar and before he enters the saloon, there is ~5 seconds cut on both the MGM and Paramount discs. We should see Manco blowing out some smoke from his mouth (a second time) and then start moving towards the saloon and out of the picture but we don’t. Here are couple of images (from the Italian Blu-Ray) of the missing scene:

3. The Laughter

And finally were a missing a longer laughter of Indio after he has been rescued from the prison by his gang and he lets the last guard go. MGM and Paramount does have him laughing but not as long as he should (a couple of seconds are missing). This scene happens at sunlight on the Italian disc (the prison escape starts at darkness but it is light once they leave the place) and darkness on the MGM/Paramount.

El Indio (Gian Maria Volonte) laughs longer on the uncut version

Audio problems on For a Few Dollars More?

Well what do you know… MGM has actually fixed the audio glitch for the Blu-Ray. The ‘glitch’ I’m talking about has been present on all of their DVDs and on the German DVD from Paramount. When we are introduced to Clint Eastwood’s character Manco/Monco he lights his cigar under the rain. We should hear the sound of thunder synced right to the moment Clint raises his head, but instead it comes way too soon. A perfect moment ruined on DVDs but it is finally correct on the MGM Blu-Ray.

I would classify it as a problem though that we’re not given the choice of original mono tracks but instead have only the 5.1 track. Perhaps I’m too much of a purist but…

For A Few Dollars More Blu-Ray screenshot comparison

I’m not convinced about the image qualities either. In fact I’d say neither existing Blu-Ray release is good enough. Personally I’d maybe go with the Italian one and I think it has the better colors of the two (but who knows what the film is supposed to look in the eyes of Leone himself), but I can definitely understand someone preferring the MGM disc. MGM seems to me to be sharpened too much and in fact even if it does look more detailed that isn’t the case as all the detail is on the Italian disc but just not as sharp. MGM Blu-Ray is perhaps too harsh digital looking while the Mondo Home disc is much more film like and natural yet perhaps suffers from some DNR and the cropping. Of course there really is no choice if you want a particular soundtrack…

MGM Blu-Ray on the left, Mondo Home Entertainment Blu-Ray on the right:

What about the rest of the Man With No Name / Dollar Trilogy? A Fistful of Dollars and the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

In the case of A Fistful of Dollars the Italian DVD & Blu-Rays (from Ripley’s Home Video, RHV) have both English audio and English subtitles so there is nothing to worry about. In fact I’d say the only option to choose from are either the Italian DVD or the Italian Blu-Ray because the quality difference to the MGM discs is HUGE. Check out the following link for some A Fistful of Dollars Blu-Ray screenshot comparisons. The Italian Blu-Ray is region free.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is another story though and I am actually intending to make a separate page about it. I’d say the DVDs are of good enough quality (for a DVD) but the only available Blu-Ray in English is a total failure. Not only is it DNR’d to hell and the colors are crap, it also features only the longer version of the film (I want the shorter one available as well!) and only the 5.1 track modified gunshot sounds! Horrible.
Italian DVD from a recent restoration is superior in comparison, but of course again without English audio or subtitle options.

If you already own the GBU Blu-Ray, one good option might be to buy the AFOD from Italy and FAFDM from a place where it can be had separately (at least Hong Kong).

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