Blondie (The Good) is a professional gunslinger who is out trying to earn a few dollars. Angel Eyes (The Bad) is a hit man who always commits to a task and sees it through, as long as he is paid to do so. And Tuco (The Ugly) is a wanted outlaw trying to take care of his own hide. Tuco and Blondie share a partnership together making money off Tuco's bounty, but when Blondie unties the partnership, Tuco tries to hunt down Blondie. When Blondie and Tuco come across a horse carriage loaded with dead bodies, they soon learn from the only survivor (Bill Carson) that he and a few other men have buried a stash of gold in a cemetery. Unfortunately Carson dies and Tuco only finds out the name of the cemetery, while Blondie finds out the name on the grave. Now the two must keep each other alive in order to find the gold. Angel Eyes (who had been looking for Bill Carson) discovers that Tuco and Blondie met with Carson and knows they know the location of the gold. All he needs is for the two to ... Written by
When Angel Eyes first enters Stevens' house, an electrical tower can be seen in the background over his left shoulder. See more »
You're... from Baker?
[Angel Eyes is silent, eating a bowl of stew and staring at him]
Tell Baker that I told him all that I know already and I want to live in peace, understand? That it's no use to go on tormenting me! I know nothing at all about that case of coins.
[Angel Eyes stops eating and looks interested]
Now that gold has disappeared, but if he'd listened we could have avoided this altogether. I went to the Army court; there were no witnesses. They couldn't uncover any more....
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On a partial first viewing, I didn't like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." I thought it was a slow, tedious story about a bunch of unpleasant jerk characters involved in a bog-standard conflict over money. It all seemed very macho and self-consciously cool, and it had obviously inspired all the overrated macho directors I don't like in my own generation - Tarantino, for example, and Robert Rodriguez. In short, I was unimpressed.
Years later, I gave the film a second shot, watching it all the way through this time. I loved it. What had changed?
For one thing, I took more notice of the technical side of the film. I paid attention to Leone's famous use of close-ups, his selection of memorable character actors, and his wonderful scene-setting. I admired the detailed sets and the sweeping landscapes, the props and the costumes and all those weird, wonderful faces that Leone clearly loved to photograph.
I also got hooked by some of the quieter moments that I had skipped over in my first viewing. One of the most effective scenes involves Eli Wallach's character, Tuco, quarreling with his brother when they meet after they've been apart for years. Their argument is great, emotionally charged stuff, made all the more effective by the suggestion that they really do love and care about each other. It's the kind of sensitive, human scene you never get to see in a Tarantino or Rodriguez movie.
Before I get too fuzzy-wuzzy, I should also like to point out that, on my second viewing, I LOVED all the action, too. Every gunfight is great, in its own way, and they're all a bit different. The greatest of them all is, of course, the final confrontation between the trio, which is accompanied by some of the most rousing music I've ever heard in a film. And hey, there's even a huge Civil War battle to provide a change of pace from all the small-scale action.
Ultimately, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is probably just a potboiler of a film, without too much to say about, for example, the human condition. But what a potboiler! It doesn't have to try to be cool - it simply IS cool. In fact, it probably defined heroic coolness for an entire generation. Eli Wallach's performance, Leone's direction and Morricone's music alone are enough to elevate it to classic status
and the fact that everything else in the movie is great, too, helps
elevate it to the level of perhaps the greatest action film ever made.
And to think, I missed all that the first time through...
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