The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) Poster

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10/10
Brutal, brilliant, and one of the best Westerns ever made
MadReviewer16 April 2001
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++
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10/10
the greatest of the great!
spider8911924 August 2005
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!!
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10/10
Primal honesty and morality
steve freeman26 December 2007
After many years of barely watching any movies, I treated myself to several classics recently. And this was the best.

That I so enjoyed this movie so much came as a shock to me. I literally never before have been able to even sit through a western, which (in my admittedly limited experience) was schlock action starring John Wayne as the taciturn all-American good guy being tough and beating up the outlaws. Watching GBU, I was enthralled for the entire three hours. Twice. And if I had time, I would have watched it a third time.

The setting is typically western: a dry, dusty panorama in which men barely co-exist with each other; few wasted words; and lots of action, horses, and gunfighting in a wild west barely governed by incipient institutions of law & order – all shrouded within a morality play of good vs. bad. But what I liked so much is exactly what I hate about John Wayne westerns – the seriousness and honesty with which moral context is considered. In Hollywood, good vs. bad is as thoughtlessly superscripted as the protagonists' white and black hats. In GBU every remnant of moralizing has been ruthlessly cut.

Good, Bad, and Ugly are personified in the form of three characters: Bad ("Sentenza") is the easiest to understand. He is *very* bad, perhaps not so different from other villains, but much more sharply developed; murderous, sadistic, traitorous, and remorseless. Good ("Blondie") and Ugly ("Tuco") are more puzzling, but their labels are the key to the movie. Both Blondie and Tuco are outlaws and killers with only the barest hint of morality, but they're not evil in the same way that Sentenza is. Tuco is demonstrative, emotional, loud, wild, and unpredictable; but driven by survival rather than satanic urges. Blondie is cool, calm, rational and controlled – in many ways similar to Sentenza – but whereas Sentenza tortures, maims, kills, and lies for the hell of it, even apparently enjoys it, Blondie simply goes about his business coolly, and shows several poignant hints of empathy, decency, and a sense of justice.

GBU takes place during the Civil War and strips away the high-level political struggle of history books, leaving us with the soldier's vantage point of brutality, pointless death, and some individual decency. The politics are indecipherable from this vantage point. GBU hits this point home when our protagonists wind up in a prison camp because the oncoming gray cavalry uniforms turn out to be dust-covered blue. Later, they encounter an army fighting over a worthless bridge, suffering countless pointless deaths and casualties. Because Leone has so rigorously excised traditional off-the-shelf morality, the few instances of humanity are remarkably poignant. One such instance is when Blondie shares his coat and cigar with a dying soldier; another is when prisoners are forced – by Sentenza's orders – to play music to cover up the screams of the tortured. Sentenza apparently enjoyed the irony of beautiful sounds used for such ends; the musicians are, of course, pained by it.

That was one of many extraordinarily striking scenes. The honesty of the moral context was what I liked best about the film, but I liked everything else too. Indeed the same primal, ruthless honesty that characterizes the character development pervades the film. The music is unlike anything I'd ever heard – it's an audible version of the arid west and the tensions and lawlessness that characterize the film. Underlying the entire score is one instantly memorable theme starting off with what sounds like a screaming hyena. The story took place in New Mexico, and even though it was filmed in Spain, it really does look like New Mexico; and just as in life in the American west, the wide, breathtaking panorama tends to subordinates dialog. Indeed, it is several minutes into the film before even one word is spoken.

The plot was extremely clever – and never predictable. High level suspense is maintained for the full three hours. It was hard to imagine how it could unfold – three uncompromising outlaws in search of one buried treasure; cooperation was not in their nature, but nothing was ever done out of character. Any Western cliché that you can think of is either given a unique twist or destroyed by masterful storytelling. For example there is an utterly irreverent scene in which Tuco meets his brother, a sincere Priest, and turns platitudes upside down. The brother begins with the standard rebuke of the criminal's behavior, but Tuco punches back and says, "Where we come from there were only two ways out. You lacked the courage to do what I've done." The movie is also irreverently funny: For example, Twice Tuco gained the upper hand on Blondie and said:

"There are two kinds of spurs(?), my friend. Those that come in by the door, and (crosses himself) those that come in by the window."

"There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend. Those who have a rope around their neck and those who have the job of cutting." Later Blondie gained the advantage of Tuco and observed:

"You see in this world there's two kinds of people my friend - those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig." In addition to all these specific attributes, a unique and strikingly cool style infuses the entire film: long scenes of tense silences – never for an instant boring; and telling, startling close-ups and transitions. Most noteworthy was the film's climax. As the protagonists stand there with their fingers on their holsters, waiting for the first person to go for their gun(s), the transitions start out slowly, and speed up as the tension increases. As I write this, I wish I had my own copy of the film, just so I could see this scene again.

Not just a great western, but easily one of the best movies of *any* kind ever made.
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Westerns don't get any better than this.
a_southern_knight16 August 2004
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.
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10/10
The Good, the Better, the Best
Murtaza Ali19 February 2009
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or the Good, the Better and the Best, as I prefer calling it, is a bizarrely sublime and a uniquely aesthetic masterpiece. The actors in title roles have given such extraordinarily superb performances, that it would be impertinent and disparaging to merely regard their swell work as acting. In fact their brilliant portrayals have immortalized Blondie, Sentenza/ Angel Eyes and the enigmatic Tuco. Lee Van Cleef is fiendishly unforgiving as the merciless Angel Eyes. Clint Eastwood is rugged yet suave, cocky yet adorable as laconic cigar-smoker Blondie, a role that laid the foundations of his illustrious career. But it is Eli Wallach, who steals the show with his captivating portrayal of Tuco, a portrayal that is as entrancing as it is enlightening. Wallach is amusing, capricious, nonchalant, uncanny and yet tenacious as Tuco, perturbed by his insecurities and dampened by his solitude. It is the tacit amicability between Blondie and Tuco and their mutual hostility towards the evil Angel Eyes owing to the vestiges of virtue present in them, redolent of their moribund morality, which gives the story, the impetus and the characters, a screen presence that is not only awe inspiring but also unparalleled.

Sergio Leone's magnificent and ingenious direction in synergy with Ennio Morricone's surreal music, Tonino Delli Colli's breathtaking cinematography and Joe D'Augustine's punctilious editing makes the movie, a treat to watch and ineffably unforgettable. Initially aimed to be a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, continues to stand the test of time in its endeavor to attain apotheosis (if it hasn't attained it yet). It will always be remembered as European cinema's greatest lagniappe, not only to the Western genre, but to the world of cinema.

It's a must watch for any movie lover. 10/10
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10/10
The good, the better, the best.
Dolf6 January 1999
Warning: 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.
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10/10
film making of the highest order
Stamp-329 August 1999
Warning: Spoilers
The whole picture is superb, but the closing twenty minutes or so are simply breathtaking. From when the dust clears after the bridge blows, the movie develops a momentum that doesn't let up until the very last shot.

The dying soldier; Tuco being blasted from the horse and crashing into the gravestone; Tuco running round and round the graveyard (how was that shot?); the way the three protagonists come together; the shootout; Tuco and Blondie playing out their last confrontation; and then a final wail,the guitars come in one more time and Clint just rides hell for leather out across the desert.

It's cliché to say "they don't make 'em like they used to" but not only don't "they", "they" wouldn't have a clue how to make a movie like this any more.
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10/10
The King of Cool
dr_foreman21 August 2006
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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10/10
Sergio Leone's penultimate Italian-western; a film that gets better with each passing year...
MisterWhiplash1 January 2004
Warning: 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. If anyone really stays in the mind, at least for me, it's Wallach - especially as he gets the most 'character', and one of the very best scenes is between Tuco and his religious brother. Without that scene, the movie actually wouldn't work quite as well, surprisingly enough.

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.
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10/10
One of the Best of all Time
vonjenk9 December 1998
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.
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