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Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo.
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly More at IMDbPro »Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. (original title)

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108 out of 128 people found the following review useful:

Sergio Leone was a highly personal filmmaker!

9/10
Author: Righty-Sock (robertfrangie@hotmail.com) from Mexico
12 May 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sergio Leone's film follows the adventures of 3 ruthless outlaws...

The 'Good' is Eastwood's unchanging and unshaven 'Stranger With No Name.' An unprincipled killer who stands only for his 45... He is quiet, inexpressive and cool, only seen once with a brief moment of humanity where his classic disinterest contrasts with the real tragedy of the American Civil War...

The 'Bad' is an excellent supporting actor, a Western figure... With his long, thin opening eyes, deathly pale face and cruel voice, Lee Van Cleef is the merciless bounty hunter, ironically called 'Angel Eyes,' always ready to kill for a price...

The 'Ugly' is Eli Wallach, a wild spirit with devil attitude... Tuco is charming but extremely dangerous...

The pairing of Eastwood and Wallach is memorable for its black humor alternating each other's fate, motivated satisfactorily by their excessive desire for collecting the reward money...

The quest: a treasure chest containing $200,000 in gold buried in a Confederate grave in Sad Hill Cemetery...

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" had many haunting moments: Complicated bounty-hunter's con-games; the Stranger, in a frantic hurry, trying to load his empty gun before 3 killers sent by Tuco; a torturous walk across the desert in a blazing sun; the epic battle between Union and Confederate soldiers for the control of a strategic bridge where Leone's camera takes a slow ride surveying the magnitude of the Civil War carnage; and the final showdown in a huge graveyard, where each character, naturally, wants the money all to himself...

The amusing scenes are provided by Tuco, sitting in bathtub with a lot of foam and one armed man enters his room saying: "I've been looking for you for 8 months... Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me..."

The memorable scenes are when the Stranger finds himself in a dangerous situation at the hand of Tuco, who is just about to collect his vengeance by hanging his former partner...

The stunning scenes when Leone's camera captures the touching moment in which a young man plays sweet romantic songs on his harmonica, while his eyes are streaming tears of disgrace and grief...

The unforgettable scenes when the 'Stranger' leaving Tuco with a rope around his neck and the bandit begs for mercy while teetering on a wooden cross...

The ultimate confrontation between the forces of good and evil when Leone spreads out long shots adjusting sound with action... Tensions mounts as the three protagonists 'shape in a triangular cinema cliché' Leone gets the audience's imagination with a geometric fight to the death, accompanied by a clear exciting music...

Leone's camera captures every straight lines, every nervous energy, every tactical movement, displaying, in huge close-ups, their faces, their power of vision, the slowly progress of their fingers toward their loaded guns, their worried eyes, their sudden need to be quick, to be the fastest draw...

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68 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

The Good, the Better, the Best

10/10
Author: Murtaza Ali from India
19 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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46 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

film making of the highest order

10/10
Author: Stamp-3 from London, England
29 August 1999

*** This review may contain 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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34 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

For a girl who doesn't enjoy westerns much, this was one of the greatest films ever!

10/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
29 June 2006

Gosh, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, I finally saw this film! Who hasn't heard of it? First off, may I say that Clint Eastwood... what a hottie in his day! :D Sorry, had to get that off my chest. Sergio Leone from what I understood was a huge western film fanatic and in the 60's pretty much most folks had moved onto other genre's. I mean, I would agree that most western's are pretty much the same and stereotypical.

Sergio however took a story and added some elements to it such as comedy, drama, and war. The story flows so well and just compliments all of it's characters. By far my favorite character was The Good, played by Clint. He is a bounty hunter who captures The Ugly numerous times just to free him before every hanging and splits the winnings with him. When they learn of a coffin in the desert that has $200,000, they go for it. Of course we have the Bad who is a ruthless killer who also wants in on the doe.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is a terrific film and I thank all the IMDb users for their useful comments and that pushed me to finally rent this western classic. Let's give it up for Sergio!

10/10

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32 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

The best cinematic meditation on greed since "Treasure of the Sierra Madre"...

Author: keihan (keihan@usit.net)
26 August 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Belfast-based comics writer Garth Ennis said it best: "There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend...those who dig Clint Eastwood movies...and dweebs." While I have to admit that my heart belongs to the opening act of "The Man With No Name" trilogy, "A Fistful of Dollars", there is no denial in my mind that "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is actually the better film. Many directors have tried imitating it's style (including Don Siegel's substandard "Hang 'Em High" and Eastwood's own first Western offering as star/director in "High Plains Drifter"), but none have truly come close to the eccentricities on display here.

I have a suspicion that the storyline is actually based on historical fact. Consider this account from Joel Rose's "The Big Book of Thugs" under the entry of "The Reynolds Gang": They were organized in 1863 by Texans Jim and John Reynolds. They were briefly interned in a Civil War prison camp for Confederate sympathizers and after being released, began making robberies that, according to Jim Reynolds, were to help out Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. The loot was buried somewhere in the area of Handcart Gulch and Spanish Peaks in Colarado Territory and later, after Jim Reynolds and four members of his gang had been executed by Colonel John M. Chivington of the Union Army, John Reynolds, dying from a fatal wound during a holdup, supposedly whispered out the location of his old gang's ill gotten loot. Unlike the movie version, it was never found.

Regardless of whether or not this was the actual basis for TGTBATU, it is nevertheless a film more grounded in history than a lot of it's comtemparies and, indeed, more than a few of it's successors. The Civil War is part of the backdrop, but it does so on a forgotten front of that war, the Western theater. Most high-school history classes would have us believe that nothing happened out West, but plenty did. In fact, the last skirmish of the war, if I'm not mistaken, was in New Mexico and, ironically enough, a Confederate victory.

The central of this film is greed. You don't just see it in the quest for the Confederate gold by Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco. There are signs of it everywhere; in the hotel manager talking about how he'll be glad to get the Northerners in town for the money they'll bring in, Bill Carson appealing to Tuco's greed for a single sip of water, the gang of cutthroats who are systematically robbing the Confederate prisoners of their goods. Set up against the harsh desert backdrop, it exposes the ultimate folly of that greed (the best symbol of it perhaps being the cemetary where the gold is buried). A little over a decade before the Reagan era of "Greed is healthy, greed is good", this film provides the ultimate rebuttal to that argument. Greed has gotten just as many men killed, if not more, than patriotism ever did. Such a subtext makes "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" the cinematic child of John Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and the precursor to Oliver Stone's "Wall Street".

As great as Leone, Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Wallach are, there is one member of this team that pushs this film into the status of greatness: score writer Ennio Morricone. Not only does he manage to write one of the most recognized theme tunes on the planet, he also adds the extra tension needed to convey the drama with the necessary oomph, the best examples being in Blondie's torturous walk across the desert, Tuco's frantic search through the cemetary (my personal favorite and so good that Lucasarts did a slowed-down version of it for their western shooter, "Outlaws"), and, of course, the final three way shoot-out. He still composes scores for many other films to this day, I've been told. A good example of his most recent work would be the 1990 version of "Hamlet" starring Mel Gibson and directed by Franco Zefferelli. But I truly doubt that he'll ever be able to top the legendary work he did here.

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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Sergio Leone's most visionary film...

Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
3 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sergio Leone is arguably the most visionary director of all time. They say that before he even had a written script he could picture exactly what was to be on screen and the camera's direction in leading his characters. It was Sergio's World - an alternate place in an alternate time that he was free to control. He controlled the audience and his story like no other director.

To me, his best film was the one that was on many critics' ten worst films of 1984 list: "Once Upon a Time in America." I love the finished director's cut, the cut of the film Sergio Leone himself wanted and pictured in his mind while filming the movie. Unfortunately, the editor of the film cut everything into a two-hour picture and messed up the timeline for the theatrical release in 1984 - the result was a disastrous motion picture that now, with the director's cut, stands as one of the best of all time. James Woods once said that one of the critics who named it the worst film of 1984 later named it the best film of the decade.

"Once Upon a Time in America" was Sergio's dream project, one that took him ten years to get on the big screen and ultimately killed him by sucking the life out of him, but "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" (1967) was undoubtably his most visual film. The extreme close-ups, the great way he lets the audience see nothing but what he wants - as far as he saw it, the audience should not wonder what is off-screen; whatever is within the frames is all there is. Compared to "Once Upon a Time" it seems a bit more corny and unrealistic - but it is a spaghetti western, and that is simply the point. It stands above the rest as the best spaghetti western of them all.

Leone is best remembered for his extreme close-ups. Director Quentin Tarantino once said, among many other things about Leone, his role model, that when he started out he knew not many camera directions, so when he wanted an extreme close-up in a film he'd shout, "I want a Sergio Leone on this guy!" Quentin Tarantino has such a respect for Leone that he even suggested the title "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" to director Robert Rodriguez, the title, of course, a derivation on "Once Upon a Time in the West" and "Once Upon a Time in America," both films of Sergio Leone.

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," a.k.a. "Buono, il bruto, il cattivo, il," is the final film in the Dollars Trilogy - "A Fistful of Dollars," "For a Few Dollars More," and, of course, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." I have yet to see this film's predecessors, but I doubt they are much better than this film. It isn't really about anything per se - it's a showcase of art and camera techniques. It is a showcase for Sergio Leone and a great one at that. I have no real care about the themes or outcomes - I simply enjoy being controlled by a masterful director such as Leone. When there's a director who can literally push in and give the audience specifically what he wants them to see, without the audience feeling cheated, you know you have a great director, because there's a fine line between a selfish director and a visionary director. Leone has a bit of both, so indistinct that it is hard to notice. The same thing was done in Carol Reed's "The Third Man" (1949), and the same is done here. And it is pulled off without any objections from the audience.

Clint Eastwood is The Good - he rides around the desert kidnapping criminals, giving them to the authorities and claiming reward money, and then freeing the criminals before they are to be hanged. He meets Tuco (Eli Wallach), a.k.a. The Ugly, and does his routine - but The Ugly fights back and, ultimately, kidnaps good ol' Clint, taking him into the desert and practically torturing him in the heat.

Then The Good overhears where a stash of gold is hidden from a dying man. The Ugly wants the gold so much that he nurses The Good back to health so that they can go off on a wild goose chase and search for the treasure. But there is already another man searching for the treasure - Angel Eyes, a.k.a. The Bad (Lee Van Cleef), a man whose skills at gunfighting match those of The Good, a true marksman if ever there was such a thing.

There's a terrific scene towards the end of "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," where three men have found the gold buried in a graveyard. At exactly the same time. They each have guns pointed at each other. They could all pull their triggers and die, or kill one of the three and the two could then take the money and split it. Leone zooms in with his extreme close-ups and truly gives the audience a sense of paranoia, a sense of what it would feel like in a circumstance such as that. Sergio Leone is a great director, perhaps the most visionary of all time, and now that his films are turning up again with their intended running times, the realization strikes and sinks in.

He's an even better director than we thought he was.

5/5 stars -

John Ulmer

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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Primal honesty and morality

10/10
Author: steve freeman from Philadelphia
26 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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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

"There are two kinds of people in this world, my friend"

10/10
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania
25 November 2006

Sergio Leone always wanted every picture he made to be, in every way, bigger than the one which preceded it. With the Good, the Bad and the Ugly he continued his upward trajectory and rounded off his dollars trilogy in style.

This picture was Leone's most stylised and grandiose to date, and brought all the themes and styles he had been developing in his earliest films to perfection. Among the most notable was his characterisation, particularly his all-important introductions of characters. Look at the introductory scenes of the three leads. We first see Tuco bursting out of a window, obviously interrupted in the middle of a meal, and straight away we get his freeze-frame and the title "the ugly" – this is a simple character, and needs no further introduction. Angeleyes appears out of the distance, but grows towards us until his face fills the screen. We see him commit two despicable acts of murder and treachery before we get his freeze-frame and title "the bad", telling us he is pure evil. Finally, in Blondie's first appearance he steps into the frame from behind the camera, as if he had always been there. He rescues Tuco, but only for his own profit. It's not until we have seen him betray and abandon Tuco that we get his freeze-frame and title "the good" – obviously a fairly ironic label given the way he has just acted.

Leone's trademark long drawn out face-offs – exaggerated versions of the shootouts of John Ford westerns and the sword duels of Kurosawa's samurai films – are also brought to a peak here. Not only are they now taken to absurd heights of stylisation, they are also spread out and adapted to cover the whole picture, until the point where even two men sitting opposite each other eating a meal and glancing suspiciously at one another is treated like another stand off. In fact, the entire film can be considered one long series of duels.

We also see more of the importance Leone attaches to church and family. The Dollars trilogy could be thought to lack emotion, taking place as it does in a world where there are no morals and everyone is out for gold. However the Good, the Bad and the Ugly contains several moments of poignancy, perhaps the most prominent of which is when Tuco confronts his estranged priest brother.

Religious iconography and references crops up time and again. Leone loved biblical epics almost as much as he loved westerns, and there is something of the feel of those pictures here in the overwhelming landscapes and eerie, choral music. On top of this the central trio can be read as an allegory for God, the Devil and humanity. This arguably presents rather a cynical view of the Catholic faith – given the treacherous and chequered nature of the "good" – but it could be argued to be a typically Italian one. In a country in which the church is so omnipresent and universally accepted, it's sometimes said that God is cursed as much as loved. Having said that, this was clearly never intended as the central theme – Leone wasn't trying to make some grand statement here – it's simply part of the mix of ideas going on in this picture.

This brings me onto the war theme. Anti-war sentiments are not directly addressed in this picture, but the way the civil war is woven into the plot makes a powerful statement. For the first half hour we don't see that the war is going on. The central characters aren't concerned with the it – they are only interested in hunting down the gold. However the war encroaches on the plot more and more often, until it moves from background to foreground and takes over the entire picture, culminating in a colossal battle scene. And of course the fact that the film ends in a huge military graveyard is also very significant.

I've spent so long talking about the themes and ideas going on in this film I've nearly run out of space to talk about all the genius that has gone into making it so enjoyable. The dialogue is superb, often funny and plenty of it quotable. Technically Leone has perfected his art – he composes a shot like John Ford, edits like Eisenstein, paces like Kurosawa, but all with a degree of his own originality. There is brilliant acting – Eli Wallach steals it as Tuco, probably his best ever performance. It's funny how Lee Van Cleef was cast as a villain here. Van Cleef's early career mostly involved playing mean-looking gang members, but as Leone discovered when casting him as the hero in For a Few Dollars More, while his face said "bad guy" his voice and manner could be warm and likable. The good guy Van Cleef obviously proved more popular, as in the dozen or so other spaghetti westerns he made for other directors he was invariably cast as the hero.

Just time for a final word on the recent (2003) restored edition. While it's great that several lost scenes have been added, I have to say that very few of them were entirely necessary. The only one of the added scenes I really like is the one in which Angeleyes visits the field hospital – it keeps his story arc going, and also shows an act of compassion from the "bad" when he lets the soldier keep the bottle. However the new dubbing for these scenes, strange as it may seem considering today's technology, is mixed absolutely atrociously. On top of this, Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach are now so elderly, they actually sound less convincing than the guy impersonating the late Lee Van Cleef. As a result the restored segments stick out like sore thumbs, and break up the flow of what is in every other way a perfect motion picture.

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14 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Roy Rogers meets the Vatican meets Kurosawa

Author: tedg (tedg@FilmsFolded.com) from Virginia Beach
26 April 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

This film revolves around threes of various types and pairings among those threes. The grouping of three that is of interest to me are the cinematic influences behind this film: Hollywood westerns, Italian iconic painting, Japanese starkness in representation.

These Italian westerns are important. Most movies are about other movies, but this one affected much of what followed.

The western vocabulary was mature and popular well before movies, and with the detective story drove the first revolution in modern mass publishing. Its simple abstractions were converted to film (then radio and TeeVee) without change: the boy scout cowboy in the usually white hat, often singing. (In fact the modern pop country music borrows from this simple vocabulary and reference to the `genuine.') But all that, including the country music bit is pretty flat, stupid and dull.

Italian cinema is based on a similar set of national icons, specifically religious icons. It is a more visual, visceral painterly vocabulary. Equally simple in stereotypes, but instead there are religiously based connections that give the impression of depth. Symbology is expected, even demanded. To this add postwar notions of irony which permeated European popular art. So the good guy was still good, but in a twisted way -- the twists shifting according to the chaos he encountered.

In the US, John Ford was creating soft lush panoramas that would subliminally inspire a generation of environmentally aware viewers, but something more important came rushing in from Japan: Kurosawa. His films are abstract, directly evolved from Japanese watercolor narratives. These are also lush and beautiful, but not soft -- instead dusty, gritty, sometimes cruel. This world is not placid, merely a machine to test color and honor.

In the Eastwood/Leone films, these three influences were deliberately enfolded. And a whole world's visual vocabulary shifted. In the US, we have since reinvented a part of our national character to ally with these images. (America's love affair with guns is a recent phenomenon.) How powerful cinema can be!

This film may be recommended by others for entertainment value or something similar. That's fine, but I think it should be seen to help you understand the default world you are handed, so that you can put it into perspective -- to see that much of it is man-made.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

See This If You Don't Like Westerns

10/10
Author: ewarn-1 from United States
14 February 2007

When I was a kid, nobody liked westerns. Our fathers had fought in the Korean War, and the astronauts were racing in space. Cowboys seemed old, dusty, and boring. Then along came three guys to change all that. One was good, the other bad, the other ugly. Or maybe they all had those three characteristics in them. But they arrived at one hell of a showdown, and it changed things.

This is not just an action filled western, but a sweeping commentary on the American character, as witnessed by an objective outsider. His aim was true.

By the mid 60s, the western formula, and perhaps the action film itself, had become too stale and conventional to evoke any enthusiastic response. Leone gave us not just a new perspective on film violence, but for the first time a director blended the most fascinating elements of American history, both mythical and real, into a traditional western story.

The storyline, involving three untitled men propelled by avarice into uncivilized territory, could serve as a fable for the expansion of the American frontier. Against the sun-blasted background we see the elements that have shaped, in different ways, the essential American character: warfare, technology, weapons, hardened individualism. Previous western films might have explored related themes, but never with the exciting visual style shown in this one.

The characters are men we really have never seen before. They are enigmatic, inscrutable, and fascinating to look at. Leone leaves their pasts unmarked so we can eagerly fill in their backgrounds on our own. As their journey in pursuit of lucre ends, we are presented with the best showdown in the history of the western. The quest, exciting as it was, culminates in one of the best endings in movie history.

The score of course is famous in itself but welded to the fascinating visuals and characters it becomes one for the ages. Amazing it took an Italian director filming in Spain to make the essential "American" western film. You don't like westerns? I urge you to try this and see things from an outsider's point of view. His aim was true.

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