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The Cool, The Dangerous and The Naughty
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (DVD)
Advantages: Fantastic vision, acting and 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.
Summary: Sergio Leone final masterpiece of the Spaghetti Western trilogy