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A sprawling Western epic that follows the adventures of three gunfighters
looking for $200,000 in stolen gold, Sergio Leone's `The Good, the Bad, and
the Ugly' is a masterpiece, one that continues to get better and better with
each viewing. In a way, it's a morality play, weighing the consequences of
good and evil, but it does so in a realistic manner. Sometimes, crime does
pay, at least in the short term, and sometimes good does go unrewarded.
This film probably signaled the death knell of the traditional John Wayne
`White Hat/Black Hat' Western.
The three main characters make the film. Lee Van Cleef (`The Bad') is evil personified. Totally ruthless, he'll do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Clint Eastwood (`The Good') is the Man With No Name, not really `good' in a traditional sense . . . but he has a certain sense of honor and tries to do the right thing. (Watch the scene when he gives a dying Confederate soldier a puff of his cigar - powerful, and it sums up everything that the Man With No Name is all about, without saying a single word.) Eli Wallach (`The Ugly') is Tuco, and he's easily the most complex - if not the best - character in the film. All impulse and rage, Tuco spins wildly throughout the movie, stealing, lying, pretending to be Clint Eastwood's best friend in one scene, trying to kill him in another - Tuco truly represents `the ugly' side of people.
The movie is long, but there's not a wasted scene in the film. Each one slowly lets the film unfold with a certain style and grace, revealing more about each character and what's going on. The pacing is incredible, as is the direction - Sergio Leone manages to build a lot of uncomfortable tension in the film, keeping the film from ever getting predictable. Any typical Western cliché that you can possibly think of is either given a unique twist or utterly destroyed by Leone's masterful storytelling. Of special mention is Ennio Morricone's score, which is absolutely perfect. Two scenes - one in a Union prison camp, one in the climatic gunfight in the cemetery at the end of the film - are amazing on their own, but they become absolutely astonishing with combined with Morricone's powerful score.
This movie is absolutely brilliant. If you haven't seen it yet, I strongly urge to do so. Immediately. (And then, go watch `Unforgiven' . . . in a way, I think that `Unforgiven' is the sequel to `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - it's the story of what eventually happened to the Man With No Name.) `The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' is easily one of the best Westerns ever made. A++
This is the third,and arguably the best, of the so-called "spaghetti
western" trilogy. It is ironic that, at the time the three Sergio Leone
westerns were released, they were largely panned by critics as being
poor and even laughable imitations of American-made westerns. The fact
that they were filmed in Italy and Spain resulted in them receiving
their amusing nickname which was intended to degrade them at the time.
Somehow, over the quarter century or so since their release, the critics have tended to change their opinions, and now these movies are generally regarded as classics. Perhaps this is because Clint Eastwood was principally known only as the second banana, Rowdy Yates, in the television series "Rawhide" when the films were produced but since then has achieved superstardom. But I also think it goes beyond that. I believe the critics decided to take another look at these films and realized that they had been premature in writing them off. Actually, I believe the three films were considerably better than most of what Hollywood produced. In fact, I think that TGTBATU ranks among the best westerns ever produced bringing to mind the magnificent films of John Ford, the undisputed master of that genre, and his protege, the incomparable John Wayne.
I have nothing but praise for this film. In fact, I rank it as one of my favorite films of all time. I could write volumes of what is good about this film. But since its qualities have been oft repeated in other viewer reviews, I will focus on what others didn't like about it. Most of the IMDb reviews had only one major complaint: the film is too long. I disagree. In fact, in spite of its nearly three hour length, I was disappointed that it ended. I was so absorbed in the film that I was disheartened to have to return to reality. The combination of story, cinematography, acting and musical score left nothing to be desired other than more of the same! The sequences that seemed to drag on in the opinion of other reviewers were necessary to fully create moods and to drive home important points. For example, the opening sequence might be regarded as needlessly long as Angel Eyes taunts a hapless man over a leisurely meal. But to me, scenes like that are what makes the movie great! The time allows the viewer to fully appreciate the amazing replication of the primitive home and the pitiful life of its dirt-poor inhabitants. I felt as though I was sitting there at the table; I was half tempted to reach for a bowl and spoon to partake of the meal. And all the while the suspense was building towards the inevitable climax. You know it's coming but not when and the length of the scene drives you crazy but makes it all the more satisfying when it does happen.
Another example is when Tuco punishes Joe by forcing him to walk through the desert. This is possibly the only time that one might become bored with the film. But again, I think the time for the scene was justified in that we are able to receive the full impact of that experience and enjoy the haunting music at the same time. Joe's subsequent predicament might not have had much credibility had this sequence been abbreviated.
In my opinion, one of the essential elements of a great film is creating moods that absorb our attention. This often takes time, lots of time. For example, many of the scenes in the magnificent film "Dr. Zhivago" were almost painfully long but they were necessary to create those startling surrealistic moods, and the film would not have been great without them. In many ways, TGTBATU has this same sort of greatness. It is a sweeping epic with very compelling characters and magnificent settings that draws the viewer in and doesn't release him until the closing credits begin to roll. When it's over, you feel that you've been on a long and exciting journey. Such a journey takes time.
In summary, if you haven't seen this film, buy it right away. Don't rent it because you will not want to part with it once you've seen it.
Then curl up with it on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon when you are in no hurry to do anything.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is without a doubt my all-time favorite western.
The beginning of the film is so memorable, with the young, rough good-looks of Eastwood being labeled "The Good", the absolutely evil look of Lee Van Cleef being labeled "The Bad", and a dirty, unkempt, desperado Eli Wallach with booze and food flying being labeled "The Ugly". The ending fight scene with its 3-way showdown is one of the most memorable pieces of film I have ever watched.
Leone did a great job with the camera direction in this movie and the acting is impressive. Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Wallach are absolutely fantastic.
The only thing that might scare some viewers off is the length of the film. It is long, but you just don't seem to notice it when you are watching the film - you are just too damn busy watching the best classic western of all time.
Do yourself a favor and rent this movie if you haven't seen it. If there was ever a perfect western, this is it.
Ok- first, as mentioned in another review, the geographic/historical errors in this film are GLARING. You've got men carrying revolvers that look like old style cap-and-ball pistols, but they're loading them with metallic cartridges- historically about five years early. Eastwood carries a rifle that hasn't been invented yet, Tuco assembles a "superpistol" out of a Colt, a Remington, and a Smith and Wesson- impossible. And there was nothing of merit taking place between the North and South during the Civil War in the Southwest. Now, that aside, I must say that this is the Greatest western ever. I first saw this film when I was about ten. I'd never sat through an entire Western befor, even though my Dad watched them constantly. Since then, I've been through film school, watched hundreds of Westerns, learned to appreciate them- but NOTHING matches up to this. The Searchers, Stagecoach, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Gunfighter, High Noon, Shane- all great films, but saddled with the standard American Western morality- the good guy never takes liberties with the eastern schoolmarm, the bad guy wears a black hat, etc. Coming from Italy, TG,TB &TU isn't bound by these conventions. Blondie's the "good guy"- but he's also a bounty hunter. He makes a living in a highly immoral way, but is obviously the "good"- not because we're told, but from small acts- giving the dying soldier a cigar, making sure the Captain knows to hold on till he hears the bridge blow, the genuine regret he feel for having to let Shorty die. And while Angel Eyes may be the Bad, we at least know he has prinicpals- when he's hired for a job, he always sees the job through. And Tuco may be more immoral than the other two, but he's so savvy and his role so humorous that one can't bring oneself to look upon him disfavorably. In other words, historical inaccuracies aside, TG, TB, & TU maybe one of the most accurate portrayals of the West ever put on film- there are no clear-cut lines of conduct, no black and white, or even grey, but just a swirled palette of various facets of the human condition.
I wasn't sure if I was going to comment on this film because everything
has already been said by the hundreds of other people who have posted
their thoughts, but I decided that I should really put my two cents in
since this is my favorite movie.
This film, in my opinion, is not only the greatest spaghetti western of all time. It is the greatest movie of all time. Period. Regardless of genre. I could probably watch it every day, and be perfectly happy doing so.
The music is perfection. The way the music drives this movie is absolutely amazing. The musical genius of Morricone and the incredible direction of Sergio Leone is a combination that will probably never be equaled. The theme song will forever be etched in your brain. In fact, it probably already is, even if you haven't seen the movie! The scene where Tuco runs through the graveyard with the song "Ecstacy of Gold" is pure poetry. And the showdown at the end with that great music- just incredible.
The story is riveting. There is not a single dull moment. The movie is long, but Leone's direction is so good that you will love the fact that you can enjoy this movie for three hours.
Lee Van Cleef is my favorite spaghetti western actor, and he is incredible as "Angel Eyes." It is the part he was born to play. Eli Wallach is perfect as Tuco. He really shines in this movie. Some people say he steals the show, and I can see why they think so. Eastwood is excellent as "Blondie," although I don't think Eastwood has as strong of a presence as Van Cleef (I know many will disagree, and that's OK because all three actors are superb in this film so why split hairs?).
This movie is hypnotic. It's operatic. It's sad. It's funny. It's gritty. It's violent. It's art. It's action. It's pure entertainment. The film is just so incredible on so many different levels that EVERYONE should see it, regardless of what kinds of movies they are into. And it's so cool that the greatest flick ever just happens to be a spaghetti western. If you haven't seen this movie, stop what you are doing, and go get it now!!
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...
often overlooked or belittled by so-called "film critics", GBU is a monumental influential masterpiece. everything works: music, photography, acting, dialogue, directing, etc. the cinematography and music stand out as legendary film history. who can forget the Morricone "whistles". or the harsh landscape united with a sweaty dirty super close-up of an unknown Italian actor. there's just too much to say about this landmark movie. what a combo: THE "spaghetti western", directed by an Italian, starring american leads, shot in Spain, and taking place in the barren American west. wow.remember, there's two kinds of people in this world, my friend, those who appreciate a masterpiece like GBU, and those who don't know much 'bout great movies!!!!!!!!
This film probably had the largest impact on my life. It set the tone for everything I then got interested in. American Civil War. Film Music. Clint Eastwood. Real Westerns. This is the best of the Dollars Trilogy and by far one of the best Westerns of all time. It has drama, comedy, cracking dialogue, some of the most brutal battle scenes - especially around the bridge - that I'd seen up to then, music to die for and set pieces that just ooze atmosphere and tension. I have never forgotten the end shoot-out. This was unique; 3 people?! You can't do that. But Leone did, and he did it brilliantly - all cameras and music. I have now seen this film too many times to count but I'll be back for another blast of buono, brutto, cattivo, someday. My son owes his name to this film. Yep, that there is Clinton.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
...and though those last several words could also be attributed to
Leone's "Once Upon a Time" films (West and America) as well as the
other pieces in his trilogy of films with Clint Eastwood- Fistful of
Dollars and For a Few More Dollars- arguably this is the most ambitious
and spellbinding one of the bunch, and one that has inspired (i.e.
Quentin Tarantino, Sam Raimi, Robert Rodriguez) and will most likely
continue to inspire filmmakers and fans into the 21st century. There's
something in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that's nearly (or perhaps
is) mythical in it's craft, certain scenes come off as being more than
relevant and exquisite for that scene/sequence- it transcends into
aspects of humanity.
For example, in the first part of the film (this is after the extraordinary introductions to Tuco, played by Eli Wallach, Sentenza or 'Angel Eyes', played by Lee Van Cleef, and as Blondie by a 35/36 year old Clint), Joe gets Tuco out of a hanging, which is something of a regular practice for them, but Joe decides to leave his 'buddy' out in the desert to walk the rest of the way back into town. A little later, the situation gets reversed, as Tuco has a horse and water and Joe doesn't, and they both go to cross the desert. Leone decides to not follow Tuco coming back to town as much as he follows in earnest Tuco and Joe going across that desert, as Joe starts to burn and dry up, going towards a story that will soon unfold. There is something to these scenes that I can barely describe, that they're executed in the mind-set of a Western, but in the abstract Leone lets the audience know this is a story that is bold and bigger than life.
What makes much of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly such a huge success is the trust Leone had in his own style he spun into his own after the first two westerns, his trust in his collaborators, and in his leading players as well. I, for one, had to mistakenly figure out that it is near depressing to watch this film on a regular VCR tape due to the pan & scan process. There is such a clear, distinct visual scope that Leone and camera director Tonino Delli Colli achieve that it's practically a must to get the DVD (preferably the extended version, which was Leone's original cut more or less). The editing, too, is unique in many sequences (the climax is the most noted and memorable). The score, with usual collaborator Ennio Morricone, is one of the landmark movie scores, and themes, of not just in the western genre but in all movie history. And the three main players who take on the screen have their own chops to show off: Eastwood, technically, was playing a Joe that took place before Fistful of Dollars, yet by this film had it down to a T (it's still my favorite performance from him, despite having few words and reactions); Cleef's cold, cunning Angel Eyes steals the scenes he's in; ditto for Wallach, who gets under the skin of his co-patriots as much as he sometimes does under the viewer's.
Overall, The Good, the Bad and Ugly, is an entirely satisfying western, at least one of my five favorites ever made, and it's an endearing bravo to all who were involved. A++
Rather than a review of a 30 year old movie, here is my recollection of a 30 year old movie. When was the first time you saw this movie? I remember the first time I saw this movie. Back in the '70s, one night there was 2 things on TV to choose from, this movie or a baseball game. How do I remember a baseball game, it was the night Hank Aaron was going after Babe Ruth's homerun record. Baseball or a movie. Tuned into the the baseball game, flipped to the movie -a western, cool. 'Uh, what is this no one is talking it makes no sense'. After what seemed like an eternity somebody finally spoke, Lee van Cleef. The rest is Movie History. Since then I have seen this movie well over 25 times. Numerous lines that have been etched into my memory. Forget whatever minor flaws this movie has. Put yourself in the movie. Sergio Leon, John Ford these are the people that defined "The Western". On a scale of 1-10, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is nothing less than a 10. Plop the tape into the VCR, sit back and experience a classic.
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