“ Genre: War & Western - Western / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Director: Sergio Leone / Actors: Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood ... / DVD released 28 January, 1998 at MGM / Features of the DVD: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC „
* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 1966, Cert.
RUNNING TIME: Approx. mins
DIRECTOR: Sergio Leone
PRODUCER: Alberto Grimaldi
SCREENPLAY: Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni & Sergio Leone
MUSIC: Ennio Morricone
Clint Eastwood as Blondie
Eli Wallach as Tuco
Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Reprobate Tuco manages to, through killing two of them and badly wounding the third, escape a group of men who tried to capture him after seeing his face on a 'Wanted' poster. Meanwhile and far away, Angel Eyes pays an ex-soldier a visit, wanting information on a man who has changed his name to Bill Carson, and has a fortune of stolen gold in his possession. After gunning the man and his son down, Angel Eyes goes on his way.
While Tuco is on his travels, he meets up with who he nicknames Blondie. Via a gun battle, Blondie 'wins' the chance to hand Tuco over to the authorities and claim the $2,000 reward. However, when it is time for Tuco to be hanged, Blondie, from a distance, fires his gun into the hangman's noose, freeing Tuco.
Blondie and Tuco travel from town to town playing this game, with the reward for wanted man Tuco increasing by $1,000 per time, and Tuco always being shot free by Blondie...sometimes it is touch and go as Blondie likes to tease him. Tuco quickly becomes resentful, feeling that Blondie is taking more than his fair share of the bounty rewards, so he attempts to exact revenge.
Gradually, Blondie and Tuco cross paths with Angel Eyes, all three together learning that Bill Carson's fortune is stashed away, buried in a grave somewhere.
The three men, in their separate ways - yet with Blondie and Tuco still working together - make it their business to find the gold. Blondie is happy to share it three ways, but Tuco and Angel Eyes want the whole stash for each of themselves, pulling every trick in the book to make sure it happens that way.
Still travelling together, Blondie and Tuco go through hell and high water in their quest....even to the point of enlisting as soldiers in the Civil War, with the relationship between the two men taking some interesting twists and turns.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is a mostly Italian-made film, being the third in the 'Dollars' series, with the first part shot in Italy, then the remainder in Central Spain....hence spawning the nickname 'Spaghetti Western'.
This was, back in the late 1960s, the first widescreen film I ever saw, and as I still am today, was captivated by the opening credits. Back in its day, this was something exciting, unique, and then not at all usual for a film to be a couple of minutes short of three hours in length. Three hours may sound like an intimidating, arduous trek, but the minutes flash by, as there is nothing boring about The Good, The Bad And The Ugly whatsoever.
The acting is of more than acceptable standard, with Clint Eastwood as Blondie (the Good) being pretty much as he is in all the Dollars films....the laid-back, cigar-smoking, poncho-clad, almost taciturn loner. Lee Van Cleef (the Bad) is very good in his role, managing to exude an aura of evil as he guns his way through the Wild West (OK it's Spain, but it's supposed to be somewhere like New Mexico, Arizona or Texas) without conscience or shame. My favourite of the bunch, and from the whole film, is Eli Wallach as Tuco (the Ugly). It is strange that this vile little character whose only interest in life is crime and feathering his own nest at whatever cost, is actually quite endearing. For the most part he is pretty hapless, but now and again he does show a spark of genius. Wallach and Eastwood compliment one another very well in the film, and the way their relationship moves along as the storyline evolves, is both interesting and amusing.
There is one little thing which some may find distracting about this film, and that is some of the dialogue is out of sync with the actors' mouth movements. I am uncertain as to whether their voices were overdubbing the Italian language - perhaps that's how the film was initially made and the direction/production team could have added English-speaking actors' voices afterwards - or, whether it is an actual fault in that the sound and lip movements weren't synchronised properly when the film was finalised.
Ennio Morricone's soundtrack is superb, and for the main theme, I must say light years better than Hugo Montenegro's cover version which rose high in the UK singles charts in the early autumn of 1968.
The part of Spain in which most of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is filmed was a very good choice, as it closely resembles the desert area of the central/southern USA. Some of the scenery is ruggedly beautiful, adding the perfect backdrop to this intriguing film about three men all wanting the same thing, yet only one of them being willing to cooperate with the other two - well, up to a point. The essence of the film is, and I don't consider this to be a spoiler, keeping Blondie alive under extenuating circumstances, as only he knows the exact location of the gold hidden in a grave in a cemetery somewhere....Tuco knows where the cemetery is, but such insight is of little or no use, as there are literally thousands and thousands of graves in there.
Although every single moment of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is monumentally superb - even if a bit clichéd in parts - the ending is truly something to behold. The tension levels during the final scene are as taut as a guitar string, and it is probably the best and most exciting close to any film I've seen in my life. In the unlikely event that anybody should hate the bulk of The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, I still feel that they'd enjoy that spectacular finale.
I'm not generally a great fan of Westerns, but this is a true gem, and I've yet to meet anybody who dislikes it. Although it contains shoot-outs, gun battles in dusty streets of little hick-towns, horses and the usual Western paraphernalia, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly travels down a slightly different route. There are no disagreements with Indians, no sign of John Wayne, and apart from Clint Eastwood presenting in his usual cowboy style, the acting has a quality and depth to it which isn't present in those Westerns that people of my age had to sit through at Saturday Morning Pictures (who remembers those?) when we were children. The character of Tuco for me is the most interesting....a lovable rogue, and a real nasty rogue at that, but he has a twinkle in his eyes (probably developed as a means of charming his own way out of people) which is incredibly endearing.
If you've not been fortunate enough to have yet seen The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, I can assure that it is three hours very well spent, and should anybody consider watching it for the first time, just clock that amazing ending!
At the time of writing, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £2.47 to £899.99 (!!!)
Used: from 1p to £15.99
Collectible: 95p to £9.99 (all appear to be used)
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
It seems like an eternity since the Man with no name first captured western lovers hearts all those years ago, 45 to be exact. The unshaven, unlikely hero that was to endear himself to a generation, and to many of the next generation too. The crumples cigar and twisted mouth, the scruffy poncho and the flea-ridden horse. The unforgettable and still haunting music, can it really is so long ago that such a hero was born.
The Spaghetti Western
In 1966 to all our surprise a new type of western hit the big screen thanks to director Sergio Leone who also co wrote with Luciano Vincenzoni. A familiar if not yet famous name was to become more famous as the man with no name. He was of course Clint Eastwood ( Blondies/ The Good) and many new him as Rowdy Yates from the very popular TV series Rawhide. He was to be accompanied by some other famous faces in what is truly a classic. Lee van Cleef ( Angel Eyes/The Bad ) formerly of Sabata fame, Eli Wallach ( Tuco/The Ugly).
From the onset of the intro and bullets sounds and dessert, you are dragged into the dry and desolate world of the old west, where life meant very little and dollars spoke even louder than they do today. The lone silhouetted horseman bobbing across the vast plain. Also from the start it is evident that the music is not just going to be incidental, it is going to play a crucial part is a brilliant movie.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly "Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo" is a story of greed, of bounty hunters and of war. It takes you on a trip across the Wild West and into the minds of the men who sought to make their fortune on the heartache of others, or on being faster with the pistols than the outlaw you stalked. Such a man could get plenty rich, such a man must have little conscience. Such were the three main characters in this epic, firstly struggling as individuals to make the fast buck, and slowly but surely becoming more and more dependant on each other. All this tension and gun slinging amid the haunting and melodic music of Ennio Morricone.
Tuco has a price on his head and is captured by Blondie. They claim the reward and before execution is saved by Blondie, and this cycle is repeated until Blondie decides that Tuco is never going to be worth more than $3000. The partnership dissolved Tuco seeks revenge, but the two accidentally fall upon some good news. They find a carriage of bodies one of whom is still alive. He discloses some important info concerning a stash of gold hidden in a cemetery. Tuco knows which cemetery and Blondie, which grave so they have to keep each other alive in order to get their hands on the gold.
A series of escapades and the introduction of Angel Eyes adds atmosphere, and some funny moments. The acting is of a good standard, and the whole tale is interestingly portrayed by Leone. You get a real feel for the old west, and its inherent dangers. Your loyalties during the film switch from one to the other, or at least mine did, but it is toward Blondie that you are intended to sway, and I guess for the most part that is what I did. Again in some tender scenes the music plays a significant part, and it is no surprise that the soundtrack to this movie has proved very popular.
Toward the end some of the scenes tend to be a bit dragged out, but the tension is there, and so is the excitement. This is a film I have now seen several times and each time my enjoyment has never withered. This DVD is available at several outlets and many online stores so shopping around will get you a good deal, but you can expect to pay around a fiver for it, and at that price it is well worth it.
An excellent introduction to the spaghetti western, and a film that has a bit of everything. At the sound of being repetitive it is the music that has captured me most, whilst the actual film is no doubt a classic it is now showing signs of age, but still very much well worth a viewing.
Once in a while, a film comes along that can only be described as perfect. Everything falls into place, from the writing through to the directing and acting. There is no doubt that The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is one of those films. From the start to the finish, this is just such a fine piece of film making, and everything about it is perfect. The film's setting is the first great thing about this film. It's set during the American Civil war, which gives it a believable background and the main plot frequently uses the civil war to advance the film, such as the prison camp scene and the bridge scene. The acting in this is just as stunning, and boasts Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach together on screen in some of their finest moments. There is some beautiful scenery in this, and some absolutely relentless action from the start of the film to the perfect ending. To top it off, this has one of the finest and most recognizable musical scores of all time as well.
The film starts in a ghost town during the latter stages of the Civil War. Three men attempt to kill Bandit Tuco - the Ugly (played by Eli Wallach). But he is able to escape, and shoots the men dead.
Meanwhile, miles away, a man called 'Angel Eyes' - The Bad (Lee Van Cleef) arrives at the home of a man. He asks the man about a soldier named Bill Carson, and when he gets his answer, ruthlessly kills the man in cold blood, then kills his son. It turns out that the man Angel Eyes is searching for, Bill Carson, knows there whereabouts of $200,000 in gold ($4 million in today's money).
Tuco is then found being hunted by 'Blondie' - The Good (Clint Eastwood). Blondie kills the men after him Tuco, but then captures Tuco himself and takes him to the Sheriff to claim the reward. But before Tuco is killed, Blondie rescues him and they escape, splitting the reward between them. They continue this, until Blondie decides he should get rid of Tuco. He leaves Tuco in the desert.
However, Tuco is strong willed and manages to live. He then goes after Blondie and in a pretty harrowing scene marches him through the desert. Which is when the two men meet Bill Carson, who tells them about the gold.
Now, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly all know about the gold, and all set out to find it in a variety of different ways while the civil war rages on in the background. This leads to, without a doubt, the finest western climax of all time.
This film may be three hours long, but there isn't one moment in this that is slow, and not one moment that doesn't keep you glued eagerly to the screen for every second. It is a visual masterpiece from Sergio Leone, who's camerawork, locations and variety of shots are just absolutely stunning. And that's putting it lightly. Certainly the scene in which Tuco marches Blondie through the desert truly are harrowing and really do capture the feeling of the desert and lack of water. But what really makes this film is the action. Every action scene in this is directed and acted to perfection. There are some stand out scenes though, such as the desert scene, the civil war prison scene, the explosion of the bridge and the final climax, which tops this film off. The pace is totally relentless all the time, and the depth of this story, such as the background with the civil war and the history of the characters is totally engrossing.
As for the acting, what can anyone say. We have the coolest man in the west with Clint Eastwood, one of the most compelling character villlain in Lee Van Cleef, and the hugely enjoyable Eli Wallach as Tuco, the man you love to hate and hate to love. Between all three, there are some hugely memorable scenes, and because each actor's style is different, they actually compliment each other perfectly.
The final thing that really does make this film is the outstanding and very memorable musical score by Ennio Morricone. The score has since become the score that instantly refers to any western, and not just this one.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the finale of awesome Italian director Sergio Leone's spaghetti western trilogy, I enjoyed "A Fistful of Dollars" no end but thought that "A Few Dollars More" paled in comparison, 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" sees the return of a relatively simple plot but once again combines the characters of Clint Eastwood (The Man with No Name/Blondie) and Leo Van Cleef who appeared in the A Few Dollars More as well.
Angel Eyes (Van Cleef) was a harsh character in that film but seemed to still have a few redeeming features this time round however he's a completely cold character and as evil as they come (he's the bad in case you didn't guess), the good natured "Blondie" always has a trick up his sleeve but generally has good intentions and is the good) whilst the ugly is played by Eli Wallach and seems to represent a mad Mexican (?) called Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, the plot is brilliant, the film is long and modern day movie goers may think it's slow at times but the filming is spot on and just seems to emphasise certain parts of the story.
As in numerous Sergio Leone films, it's not the soppy love-story western of the early 60s but rather a story about three broken men with no ties and a fast shot, the adventure is as fun as they come and there's all the shoot outs you'd want to see in a Western, it doesn't disappoint at all and the ending is epic!
It goes without saying that the soundtrack is one of the best ever and even if you haven't seen the film, you'll likely be aware of the film score.
Sergio Leone's 'trilogy' of Spaghetti Westerns have been lauded since their emergence in the 1960s. They are celebrated for their powerful use of cinematography and music, as well as some brilliant direction and acting. The Good The Bad and The Ugly is the third in the trilogy, although the three aren't really linked all that much. I haven't seen the first two, but this is a story in its own right, with the plot, set in the American Civil War, linked to the three main characters, those in the title.
The pace of the film is set from the start, with the introduction of the three characters. The Ugly, Tuco (Eli Wallach) is a bandit, who escapes a shootout before fleeing into the desert. We are then introduced to The Bad, known as Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) who is searching for a one-eyed soldier named Bill Carson and a fortune in gold he has hidden. Flicking back to Tuco, he runs into trouble, and is saved only by a mysterious stranger known only as Blondie (Clint Eastwood). He is The Good, thus completing the three. Their paths cross on numerous occasions as the three of them, driven by the lure of wealth, search for Carson's hidden treasure, double crossing each other every step of the way, yet needing each other to find the treasure.
The tension between the characters is immense, and they all perform excellently. I could not fault them. Leone's direction and openness allowed these and other characters to perform in their own languages, and so you often get a little confusion when watching their lips move, as it's dubbed over, but this is no way prevents the excellence of the acting to come through. Usually, I can't stand dubbing, and prefer to watch things in the language they were originally recorded in, but it would not work in this instance, as there is a communication issue in this case with the film, as they are all supposed to be talking in the same language.
Eastwood shot onto the scene with his performance as Blondie, his Man With No Name style of cowboy producing countless copies in future films, books and other forms of entertainment. The cinematography that Leone allows and controls is phenomenal, particularly when Eastwood is on screen, and as this involves a lot of zooming in and out, closeups and panoramic shots being used in clever formation, it mesmerises you and increases the tension. One particular scene, widely considered one of the best and most dramatic in cinematic history, comes towards the end of the film, as the three leads are at a standoff in a cemetery, the camera giving us wide views of the three of them (taking care to show it wide enough and emphasise that it's just the three of them for miles around) before switching to the closeups of each of their faces, filled with tension and distrust.
But the camera and its stars would be nothing were it not for the amazing and famous sounds incorporated in the accompanying music from Ennio Morricone. The famous whistle and then waa-waa sound that accompanies the mind's eye of a Wild West scenario better than anything else has its home here, throughout the film. The writing of the music does not just have the combination of the notes in its favour, but also the fortitude with which they are played, going from soft and drawn out to really loud and intrusive clanging as the crescendo comes into play. Yet it's not the sort of increase on volume that makes you reach for the remote and turn it down a bit; it's more the sort that makes you move forward in your chair and open your mouth slightly. Morricone and Leone certainly know how to combine a score and the visuals in order to heighten the impressions of the audience. That particular goes on for about five minutes without anything happening. Boy, the tension was immense!
And the score goes even further than this. There is almost a tendency to attribute a certain style of the music to each of the three leads, with a more casual and 'cool' style for The Good, an almost naughty sound for The Ugly, and an unmistakable sound that makes you wary for The Bad. Wallach and Van Cleef are very similar in their characters, with Eastwood's Blondie definitely the more calculating of the three. There are contrasting elements to their characteristics, and this contrast is what keeps you guessing. There is no doubt that with these three treacherous gunslingers all joining forces there will some form of double crossing in the end, maybe even more throughout the film. It's how they go about reacting to it that will define them as it continues, and I enjoyed the interaction between the three. The upper hand switches back and forth between all three of them, and having now seen Eastwood in a Western role (other than Unforgiven, which is very different), I can see where Stephen King gets his idea for his hero Roland in his The Dark Tower series of books.
Indeed, this film has sparked a number of different ideas and has helped develop the power of the musical score outside of the musical film genre. Leone's vision is immense, his control obvious, and his ability to work with his cinematographers as well as Morricone to create this amazing film is nothing short of outstanding. No words are really needed to further promote the film, once you have seen it, as the film itself does it for you. I have rarely seen a powerful film that draws things out for so long without boring me somewhat, but I have to say I was absolutely riveted the whole way through, despite it teetering at around three hours in length.
The Good The Bad And The Ugly is a fantastic film, and one I highly recommend watching. Keep an eye out for the vision shown by those in front of and behind the camera, as well as a fantastic score from Morricone. Leone has truly created a masterpiece here: highly recommended.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly follows the fortunes of three cowboys who are all searching for a fortune buried in a remote cemetery. Their paths cross in numerous ways and it is the dynamic of these three loners forced to sometimes work together that lends this film it's appeal. Of the spaghetti western genre the film was shot in Spain by an Italian Director Sergio Leone and is the third, and best, in a trilogy of films which star Clint Eastwood and include a Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has transcended the genre of the western in the same way that Muhammad Ali has transcended boxing. The majority of movie goers have heard of this film even if they have not seen it. The score by Enio Morricone has become legendary after its spell in the charts. Clint Eastwood, who plays the lead, has come to symbolise the cowboy in western culture.
Synopsis: Three men search for a fortune of gold buried in a graveyard.
By this time in Hollywood it was fair to say that everyone was getting pretty tired of westerns, it had been done to death with every single story, motive and plot and though it had spawned some of the greatest films of all time - The Searchers, Wild Bunch, Magnificent Seven, Rio Bravo etc, people just did not seem interested in the lone ranger anymore. That is un till Sergio Leone came along, he thought differently from the rest of Hollywood, he wanted to bring the Western back with a bang... and it is safe to say that he did. He decided that the genre, though it had only been weakened for a number of years, was ripe for an epic remake and the outcome spawned his gloriously well done Spaghetti Westerns. Now, a lot can be said about The Good the Bad and the Ugly, namely the fact that Leone doesn't really seem to care much about the plot - it seems to crop up and in a number of times and we get a little bit more info here and there but generally TGTBATU's merits lie in its ingenius cinematography and beautiful elements of cinematic wonder. Starting of course with his magnificent widescreen images he places throughout the film, composing a lush image of great landscapes and epic environments the likes of which we hadn't seen since the opening of The Searchers. As soon as the film started its obvious you are in for a treat. Then of course you have Leone's signature extreme close up which often just displays little more than the characters eyes - never before had such a basic camera shot been able to conjour such tension between characters and enemies. Finally though you have to praise Leone's well done editing which remains fast paced and tense and yet still allows the viewer to understand and witness all the action and suspense - matched perfectly to the world renown Ennio Morricone score this technique allows for some classic and memorable set pieces and scenes - for instance, the introduction to the three protagonists which has since been copied all over the world, one that springs to mind being Lock Stock. The impressive act of film making cemented Sergio Leones reputation as a cinematic legend and ensured success for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which seemed to just ooze style and cool from every frame like the sweat that rolls down Eastwood's face.
The three stars of course are the essence of the film, and in my opinion it is one of Clint's best performances (though he doesn't really do much) the way they bounce of each other when they finally meet and the humour and thrills that The Good and The Ugly generate together is un-paralleled by any other western duo. The stand off in the graveyard is of course an obvious choice for an example of the chemistry between the three. This scene has since become one of the most imitated and parodied in all of motion picture history and for good reason. The score springs from character to character capturing every bead of sweat and squint of an eye - this is clearly the work of a master set out ot suit his own style and rewite the stone graved rules of westerns prior.
Though i don't think this is the best western ever made, it does come close to being the most entertaining and fun to watch. With some classic set pieces, some clever little plot twists and a fantastic finale to rival the best - The Good The Bad and The Ugly sets itself up to be a pinicle in Western History and it is safe to say that today, even though it came late and after Westerns were deemed boring and tiresome, this film would rank among the classics on most peoples lists of Westerns.
This review was originally written by myself, here:
The third part of Sergio Leone's 'Dollars trilogy' came in the form of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The ttilogy essentially began the 'Spaghetti Western' genre, which was intially intended to be a derogatory term for Itallian westerns that were not capable of standing their ground when compared to American westerns of the era. However, Leone's westerns, this one in particular, have grown in statur since release and are often used as examples of the pinnacle of the western genre as a whole.
A film in Italian and Spanish that was dubbed for American audiences, it starred Clint Eastwood in the iconic role of 'The Man With No Name,' though it is my opnion that the character used in each of the three parts of the trilogy were not one and the same, merely being of a similar nature - a quiet outlaw who goes out of his way to protect townsfolk from villainous characters whilst pursuing his own attempts to find riches.
The other characters of the title - Angel Eyes (Bad) and Tuco (Ugly) - are, like Blondie (Eastwood), after $200,000 in stolen gold. Set during the US Civil War, this film uses the grandiose backgrounds to show the sheer vastness of North America, contrasting to the modern day status of the Mexico/US border. Tuco and Blondie form an unstable alliance after Blondie uses Tuco to gain money via theft - Blondie rescuing Tuco on each occasion that he is punished by hanging. Indeed, inevitably they turn on each other in order to try and keep the money for themselves - resulting in each being left out in the desert to die of thirst whilst the other rides off into the sunset to begin their to quest to find their precious gold. The rest of the film is simply the two characters faffing around to try and get an opportunity to escape with the money themselves, with Angel Eyes doing his darndest to beat them to the location of the buried treasure.
The final scene is quite a standout moment of cinema. The three men in question have a 'Mexican standoff,' whereby they face each other in a triangle formation, waiting for the chance to kill the others and keep the gold. This is when Ennio Morricone's score becomes as effective as many reviews would suggest - he allows Leone to extend the standoff to as long as he wanted, with the audience still in a tense state right up until the quick finish - the tenacity to end such a long and tense scene is extremely courageous and admirable.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is revered as one of the watermarks of mainstream cinema, and rightly so. At just under three hours, Leone keeps the viewer in awe of the cinematography, the score and the acting; feats which most film makers can only dream to achieve.
Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy" is in its own right a superb collective of parables, consisting of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and concluding with the best and most iconic of all, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). The series not only perfected the spaghetti western genre, but also made a star out of Clint Eastwood, in his steely portayal of The Man with No Name.
The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the toil and trouble of the civil war. The three men are iconic characters with very distinct personalities - bandit Tuco ("The Ugly," Eli Wallach), Angel Eyes ("The Bad," Lee Van Cleef, in one of the most entertaining performances of villainy in film history), and a man known only as Blondie ("The Good," Clint Eastwood).
The film is a very long one, running in at 178 minutes, but it's one of the few lengthy films that entirely justifies this length. Although the pace is leisurely, Leone does this in order to accentuate its aesthetic of the West. Director of photography Tonino Delli Colli's sweeping widescreen cinematography captures the wide vistas and canyons of a dilapidated, sparse West superbly, and these moments of respite between the gunslinging also allow the superb and extremely memorable soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone to shine through.
The film is also highly praised for its tense, painstaking climax, as all three men converge on the location of money, and a tense three-way game of draw ensues. Leone's editing here is key - the use of montage, combined with Morricone's score, makes this incredibly intense and exciting, and thus it's no surprise that Quentin Tarantino called it the best directed film of all time.
A savagely entertaining spaghetti Western, and surely the best ever made. Sergio Leone's superb direction is complimented by Ennio Morricone's unforgettable soundtrack, and outstanding performances by Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef. Arguably the best work that any of its cast and crew have ever done.
When I first saw this film 20 years ago it was instantly installed as one of my top five films.
To this day it stays there.
As a film it has it all, and quite simply is a superb tale about treachery; jeopardy; double jeopardy; survival; instinct,; good versus evil; right and wrong; and moral dilemmas set admist the back drop of the American Civil War.
It's a slow moving film, very slow. So much so that watching it is an event as opposed to an activity.
But buying the DVD is an absolute must because there is only a certain amount of times that you can hear the unmistakable theme without needing (yes, needing) to watch the film again.
Westerns usually fail to engage me - indeed the first two in the Man With No Name (as Clint Eastwood is generally known) trilogy were a struggle - but this film has all the ingredients required to make you watch it time and again.
You will feel almost every emotion there is in the three or so hours it will take you to watch this epic, but only one will prevail as the final scene comes to a close - a sense of complete satisfaction.
During America's Civil War, three men are making their living by any means possible. Blondie (The Good) is a gunman who likes to keep on the straight and narrow as much as possible. Angel Eyes (The Bad) is a professional hitman will kill anyone so long as he receives payment. Tuco (The Ugly) is an outlaw who just wants to make a fortune. Then Blondie and Tuco come across news that there is a large sum of money buried in a graveyard. Blondie knows the name of the grave; Tuco knows the name of the cemetery - so both are determined to keep the other alive in order to get to the money. Then Angel Eyes finds out about the money - and decides to follow the other two in order to find the fortune for himself. Will they find a way to share? Or are two of the three destined to die?
Westerns are very far from being the type of film that I enjoy. However, I like to challenge myself every now and again by watching something outside of my comfort zone. In addition, I was intrigued to find out a bit about the background to spaghetti westerns directed by Italian director Sergio Leone, of which this is one. So The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was filmed in Spain, by an Italian director with a cast of international actors and yet is supposedly based in the American Old West. On top of that. Sergio Leone's work was apparently influenced by Japanese director, Akira Kurosawa - certainly the first film in the Dollars trilogy was legally challanged by the Japanese director for being very similar to his own film, Yojimbo. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the third film in the Dollars trilogy; the first being A Fistful of Dollars, the second, For a Few Dollars More. (Facts in this paragraph are taken from Wikipedia).
As Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco all pretty much share the top billing for this film, it is hard to claim that one is better than the others. However, I think Lee Van Cleef, who plays Angel Eyes, probably gives the best performance as far as I'm concerned - simply because everything about him just screams evil. The amazing thing is that he doesn't even speak all that much - most of his evil comes from his facial expressions - and of course, the fact that he has a tendency to shoot everyone he meets without a second thought. The only thing missing for me was a little more background to his character - but as the film is quite long enough as it is, it is perhaps just as well that the film wasn't dragged out any longer. Not being a fan of Westerns, I'm not really that familiar with Van Cleef's past roles, but I'm looking forward to seeing him in A Few Dollars More, the second in the trilogy.
Blondie is played by Clint Eastwood. Probably the only reason that Van Cleef stood out more than Eastwood for me is that I've seen the latter in roles like this time and time again, and, although it is an outstanding performance, it just didn't feel that fresh to me. Obviously, for people watching when the film first came out in 1966, this wouldn't have been the case (although Eastwood did appear in both A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More), but for me, he didn't exceed the high expectations I already have of his acting. Nevertheless, it was good to see him looking so much younger and marginally less craggy. And there was a gentle hint of humour in his performance, which Van Cleef didn't have, and was good to see - he didn't exactly crack a smile, but the humour was there all the same.
Eli Wallach plays Tuco in another performance that is just outstanding. Tuco, The Ugly, is not a very nice man. Howevever, whereas Angel Eyes is just plain nasty, Tuco is a bit of a clown and is a lot more likeable for it. He has some of the best lines in the film too - my favourite scene involving him is where he is in the bath and an enemy suddenly appears, gun in hand, ready to shoot him, taking the time to tell him so. Quick as a flash, Tuco pulls his own gun out of the bath, shoots the guy and says: "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk!". There is no doubt that the man is untrustworthy; nevertheless, I found myself half hoping that he would last out until the end just because he is so cheeky.
Visually, this is a very attractive film. The set looks exactly as you would expect the Wild West to look, despite the fact that it is actually Spain, and Sergio Leone makes the most of the barren landscape with some sweeping shocks that are strangely beautiful - although living there must be a nightmare. What I liked most about the visuals though is Leone's emphasis on faces. The camera is forever zooming in on people's faces and lingering there - and not just the main characters - highlighting wrinkles, warts and all. The way that it is done almost gives a glimpse into the characters' souls and I found myself glued to the screen, even when the character in question was doing nothing but staring straight ahead.
There is a huge amount of violence in the film; in fact, there is little other than violence. The only women that appear in the film are on-screen for no more than a minute, so there isn't even any respite in a little bit of romance. People are shot, beaten around the head, hung and left to die in the noonday sun. However, the camera doesn't dwell on any of the dead and their injuries, so it isn't as graphic as it could have been. The only moment that made me cringe was Blondie's badly blistered and sun-burned face - this looked incredibly realistic and very very painful.
A lot of people talk about the final scenes in this film and how stunning they are. I'm not usually that impressed by hype, but I have to admit, they are amazing - not just because of what happens, but because of the way that it is filmed. I would never have thought of watching a Western as a thing of beauty, but actually, it really is a work of art. And there isn't much hope of trying to guess who, if anyone, is going to get away with the money - it is anyone's game until right at the end. Even then there is a twist in the tale that I didn't quite see coming.
There are a couple of things that had a slight impact on my enjoyment of the film. First of all, all the actors spoke in their own language and were dubbed, depending on where the film was shown - so for the English language version, the three main characters are speaking English, but many of their co-stars are speaking Italian or whatever. This means that much of their lip movements are out of synch. Even the main characters lips are slightly out of kilter. Thankfully, this isn't a dialogue-based film, so it didn't really matter all that much - plus, the main focus is on the three English speakers. The fact that the film is three hours long is another factor that needs to be considered. I watched it on DVD (although I bet it is fantastic on the big screen) and was able to stop for breaks every now and again - thank goodness.
I don't usually notice the music scores to films. However, it would be hard not to notice this one, just because the music is so very familiar. Composed by Ennio Morricone, I should think that there are very few people, and that includes the younger generation, who would not at least recognise the music. It is very distinctive, not just because of the tune, but because of the special effects that Morricone used to help make the music fit the actions - these include gunfire at one point, also whistling and vocal effects. I'm not sure I would want to own a copy of the soundtrack, but it certainly fits the film brilliantly.
My version of the DVD is the special edition, which comes with a whole disc full of special features. The majority of them are documentaries on the film, the director, the Civil War backdrop and the reconstruction of the film. All of them are really interesting. I particularly enjoyed hearing Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach's take on making the film; it is just a shame that Sergio Leone and Lee Van Cleef are long dead and cannot comment. I also enjoyed hearing from the man who was tasked with ensuring that the speech patterns were as well-synched as they could be. There are some features that focus on specific scenes in the film - these were really fillers for me, although I can understand that huge fans of the film would find them interesting. Then there are a couple of features on the music score by Morricone and his collaboration with Leone. Finally, there is a trailer and a photo gallery.
A word on the quality of the film. It is outstanding. One of the special features mentions the work that went into remastering the film - it is so good that it makes the film look as if it were made recently, never mind 1966. The colours are crisp and the shots are clear as anything. So don't let the date of the film put you off watching.
Overall, I was really impressed with this film. I don't think it has entirely convinced me that my new favourite genre is going to be Westerns, but I will certainly be less apprehensive about watching a Western in future. I already have the first two films in the Dollars trilogy to watch - I watched them out of order because I understand the stories are completely separate - and am looking forward to seeing them. Obviously, if you don't like violence, you won't enjoy this, but if you like to watch well-made films, you can't go wrong here - considering it was made in 1966, the film looks incredibly fresh. Just be prepared for a long film. Recommended.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99.
Running time: 2 hours 51 minutes
Thanks to BerliozII for persuading me to watch a spaghetti western.
Following the popularity gained by Sergio Leone's first two westerns, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, the Italian filmmaking industry really got into the swing of producing this type of movies by 1966, with the likes of Sergio Corbucci and Sergio Sollima among many others wanting to cash in on the new Leone'sque western craze, producing plenty of westerns which, outside of a handful of the hundreds produced during the late 1960s and early- to mid-1970s that truly were inspired and have gained a classic status, were certainly not much else but trashy, badly acted train wrecks. Still, this sort of film had a lot of popularity back in the day, though most of these endeavours are completely forgotten today, and many still remain impossible to find on any recorded medium. Leone himself was now, even if the elitist film industry still felt he was nothing particularly special, at the height of his popularity and it was not long before he began what was to become one of his greatest creations, even in the circle of only the fistful of films he actually did fully direct himself in his lifetime, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Much of the crew and actors he had been dealing with in his previous two films also followed, including actors Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, his composer of choice Ennio Morricone, his co-writer Luciano Vincenzoni, and art and costume designer Carlo Simi among others. This was also a good example of the ever far-reaching sights Leone entertained in making everything all that more bigger the farther he got, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly certainly was a considerably bigger production that either of the two last westerns had been, both in scope and plot.
The basis of the story is once more rather simple. Three men find out about a hidden Confederate gold shipment hidden somewhere by a soldier named Bill Carson, and all three set out on their own ways to find said treasure. Along the way there's a lot of backstabbing, humour, action, camaraderie, shoot-outs, humanity and a good dose of social commentary on war and such. Indeed, it is once more the journey there that is the most rewarding aspect of this film, not so much the goal itself. The three titular men, Clint Eastwood's Blondie as "The Good", Lee Van Cleef's Angel Eyes as "The Bad" and Eli Wallach's Tuco as "The Ugly" make for a wonderful trio, never a happy bunch of people going about in a merry companion way, but all three prepared to betray or kill the other when ever a chance comes their the way, and the only things usually keeping them from doing this is the information each may have of use. Eastwood returns once more with pretty much the same character he had played for Leone previously, but is this time around a bit less of a loner. In the beginning he is in league with Tuco as a con artist posing as a bounty hunter. By catching Tuco over and over again, handing him over to the authorities in order to get the bounty, and then in the next instance shooting Tuco's hanging rope for a getaway to reprise the same somewhere else, the general opportunistic partnership gives the two men a sort of touchy feely friendship that requires trust (particularly on Tuco's part) but is at the same time a very professional a friendship.
Of course, it's not long before this partnership dissolves and the two become enemies... that is until the two end up needing each other again once they find out about the hidden gold, with one knowing the general place it is buried at and the other the specific place. And then there's the ace in the deck, Lee Van Cleef's Angel Eyes, who is not really seen too often during the film, but who is close on the trail of the gold as well having learned of it from another source, and he at times ends up following his own trails, or groups with the other two in order to reach the same goal, while doing so with no remorse on who gets killed. Therefore, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a film that more than ever is rich in its characters, and the chemistry between the trio is undeniably good. Of the three, it is Eli Wallach's illiterate, loud-mouth Tuco who ends up being perhaps the most memorable character, not only for his splashing personality, but also because he is the most conniving and unpredictable of the bunch. And while not being terribly smart, he has a lot of common sense and instinct that aids him in at times getting on top of even Blondie's highly refined sense of his surroundings. Furthermore Tuco's standing is helped a lot by the fact that Eastwood's mark as a "main character à la Fistful" is considerably diminished in favour of him being more part of an ensemble than his solitary self, and also that Van Cleef makes generally only sporadic appearances, at times disappearing entirely for long stretches of the film at a time.
Another facet of the film comes in the main story being juxtaposed with the on-going US Civil War of the 1860s that at first makes its presence known only in hints of soldiers here and there, of signs of struggles along the roadside, or cannons blasting at other times in the distance (one of these resulting in a rather original rescue of Blondie from Tuco's hands), which around the half-way point escalates into the war literally entering into the lives of the main protagonists as Blondie and Tuco end up in a POW camp, and later on as they find themselves smack in the middle of a bridge skirmish between the Union and the Confederacy (this last one also showing one of Leone's favourite tricks of within one shot transforming an intimate scene into a spectacle). This brings out a point in how the scale of Leone's visions started to grow ever larger and larger when this major conflict is being wrapped around the almost petty quest of the main characters, while at the other offering also a criticism on the wastefulness of war as Blondie remarks "I've never seen so many men wasted so badly." There's a lot of this type of human tragedy thrown around, which gives the film considerably much added depth to convey a sense of the uselessness and senselessness, as well as human brutality, of war, perfectly shown in the war camp sequence which cannot but make one draw parallels to the Nazi death camps. These aspects also find further resonance in a touching moment between Blondie and a dying, young Confederate soldier he comes across with, as well as at the extensive graveyard filled with fallen soldiers Tuco spends a good three-and-a-half minutes running around in. This all finds Leone being considerably more critical than he had been in his previous, more light-hearted adventures before.
The style of the film retains many aspects of For a Few Dollars More in its composition of again juxtaposing very wide vistas with extreme close-ups, while the film at no point is in any haste to get to the next point. Lasting almost three hours, Leone really gives each scene a sense of gravitas, taking his sweet time in building tension or allowing the characters to think of their actions first. And yet none of this makes the film ever seem slow at all. No, everything feels perfectly paced as if the calm tempo creates a sense of absorption for the viewer that could not be speeded up without losing a lot of the power behind each action. This comes perfectly on head in the final shootout, which can be found from almost all of Leone's films as it was one of the western mainstays Leone was sure not to neglect, and then spending a good five minutes in setting up the tempo of a ritual waiting to explode, building up an incredible amount of tension with quick edits, extreme close-ups and waiting. Also, as always, helping the film along is Ennio Morricone's brilliant music, which this time gives each main character the same theme (an imitation on a wolf's howl) and then assigns specific instruments and sounds for the three instead of specific individual themes. All of these elements bring about the oft-noted adage that Leone was really doing operas of violence, so large is the scale yet so thoughtfully each little detail is presented that there is a very intricate sense of movement one can't help but notice... even instinctively if in no other way. In many ways, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is perhaps the best of the trio of Eastwood starred Leone films, and certainly the most rich in detail and incident. Certainly it more than lives up to its fame.
© berlioz, 2009
The Good the bad and the ugly is one of the best all time classic mvoies that I have ever watched in my whole entire life. It is soo cool, the style of clint eastwood the good and then the bad's killing style and comedy of the ugly is just amazing. The movie potrays the life of all these three amazing characters and then how they all end up meeting and their lifes intersect. The movie has amazing drama and amazing action, gun fights and all old western style which is just fabulous to watch. This is a must watch movie before you die. The story is amazing as well, a movie which everyone in your family can watch. The only thing is that the movie is a bit lenghty but it doesnt make a difference as you'll be enjoying it all the while. And then there is the best classci style background music which you will be humming even after the movie ends.
The movie stars Clint Eastwood as Blondie who in the movie is the good, The Bad is known as Angel Eyes, and The Ugly is known as Tuco.
This is a review of the film.
The other day I went to see this film at the local cinema where they occasionally have 'classic' film nights. The cinema is definitely the place to see this film, with its wide panoramas and blaring soundtrack.
The third in the 'dollars' trilogy, this is one of only six films made by Sergio Leone, though he co-directed several others. I suppose you could see Leone as a kind of Proust type character, someone who was destined to spend his life playing out one long continuing saga, whether it was with his 'spaghetti westerns' or his 'Once Upon A Time' films.
'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' is a brilliant film in almost every respect. The acting [for what is needed] is spot on, the photography is gorgeous, the music is totally iconic and amazing... an orchestra builds to a blaring climax on several occasions. I hadn't seen the film for several years and had forgotten how loud the music is in certain scenes!.
The story is simplicity itself, three men [their title roles clearly defined in a great extended opening sequence] race to be the first to claim a stash of gold buried in a huge cemetery. Clint Eastwood is the 'Good', playing the same 'man with no name' character he was in 'A Fistful of Dollars' and 'For A Few Dollars More', though here he is named 'Blondie' due to his hair colour, by rival Tuco. His 'goodness' comes from only shooting people when absolutely necessary, compared with 'The Bad' who takes enjoyment from killing.
'The Bad' is played by Lee Van Cleef, also known as Angel Eyes. An evil mercenary character showing no emotion after his various kills. The 'Ugly' is slobbish Bandit 'Tuco', played brilliantly by Eli Wallach, whose character produces many highly amusing lines. Ultimately Tuco becomes an audience favourite mostly due to his constant and often endearing babbling, whilst the other two men stay largely quiet.
Tuco and Blondie form a grudging alliance due to the fact that each knows a piece of information about the gold's whereabouts, making them indispensable to each other.
The film has an incredibly languid pace, with shootouts and scenes of violence occasionally interrupting the beautiful scenic vistas. The version I saw [I think there's a few in existence] ran to just under 3 hours, but at no point did the story drag or feel boring. The backdrop of the American Civil War allows Leone to make several points about the futility of war, as Blondie and Tuco are imprisoned and work with both the Confederate and Union soldiers at various points. It doesn't matter which side they fight with, they're interested in the gold: plain and simple.
The wonderful stand off between the 3 men at the film's end has clearly influenced many modern directors, most obviously Quentin Tarantino whose 'Kill Bill' films bare more than a passing resemblance to the 'spaghetti westerns'. It's worth noting that the 'spaghetti westerns' are themselves largely influenced by Akira Kurosawa's Samurai films, most notably 'Yojimbo'.
Although I don't own the dvd, there is a very fine special edition version out there with documentaries, commentaries and interviews which shed a lot of light on the process of making the films and the background to them.
Often regarded by the critics as the definitive 'spaghetti western', I actually slightly prefer 'A Fistful Of Dollars' which is a more manageable film to be able to sit down and view, but 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' is a masterpiece no doubt about it.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly stars Clint Eastwood as Blondie, a professional gunslinger out trying to make a few bucks. Angel Eyes is a hit man who always sees his job through, as long as he is paid. And Tuco, a wanted outlaw only out for himself. These three find out about a stash of gold buried in a cemetery, and must battle it out with each other to see who gets it.
This is truly an epic film in every sense of the word. Fantastic sprawling shots show the isolation that a lot of these people were in, and the music reflects that. Aside from the classic opening tune, it's very minimalistic, sometimes only the wind howling being the only thing on the soundtrack. Occasionally you get a gentle strum on the guitar, and a lone trumpet, which really reflects the loneliness and the vastness between neighboring towns, where people traveling could spend weeks alone before seeing anyone else.
The script is well written, with lots of suspense and action and the acting is superb. I have never seen Clint Eastwood better, his tough, grizzled persona is perfect for someone like Blondie, and Lee Van Cleef is excellent as the menacing, evil Angel Eyes. Eli Wallach is also great as the bandit Tuco, and the three men have fantastic chemistry together as they fight to get to the treasure first.
I can't leave this review without saying something about the ending, which is one of the greatest pieces of cinema I have ever seen. The music is absolutely perfect and ratchets up the pressure as the three men engage in a mexican standoff! Some say the window are the eyes to the soul, and the director Sergio Leone must believe that as he focuses almost constantly on the character's eyes, almost like showing you exactly how each character is thinking and feeling and that exact moment. A lot of directors working now could learn a thing or two from this scene, it shows how to do absolute nail-biting tension incredibly simply, without the need for any unneeded flash or special effects.
It's ironic that one of the most iconic and best Westerns ever made, a genre invented by the Americans, was written and directed by an Italian, composed by an Italian and filmed in Spain.
This is a fantastic film and I urge everyone to see at least once, you won't be disappointed!
Clint Eastwood ("the Man with No Name") is good, Lee Van Cleef (named Angel Eyes Sentenza here) is bad, and Eli Wallach (Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez) is ugly in the final chapter of Sergio Leone's trilogy of spaghetti Westerns (the first two were A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More). In this sweeping film, the characters form treacherous alliances in a ruthless quest for Confederate gold. Leone is sometimes underrated as a director, but the excellent resolution on this DVD should enhance appreciation of his considerable photographic talent and gorgeous widescreen compositions. Ennio Morricone's jokey score is justifiably famous. The DVD includes about a quarter-hour of footage not seen in the original release. -- Amazon.com