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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know some movie fans who consider The Good, the Bad and the Ugly the
best movie ever made. While I don't even think it's the best thing
Sergio Leone made, it's a solid Spaghetti Western that has all but
transcended the sub-genre. There are images, such as Clint Eastwood in
the poncho, and music, like the main title theme, that are known by
people who have never seen the movie. I also know people who wouldn't
be caught dead watching a movie made outside of the USA who love The
Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I can't think of another Italian made film,
let alone an Italian made Western, that has become so universally known
There are so many moments in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that I enjoy. One of my favorites is that of Tuco running through the cemetery as Morricone's "The Ecstasy of Gold" plays in the background. It literally gives me goosebumps. It's one of those movie moments that I look forward to no matter how many times I've seen them. I'm also a fan of the techniques Leone used in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Leone's use of the widescreen shots of the landscape inter-cut with extreme close-ups of faces is brilliant. It adds a sense of intimacy to vastness of the setting that allows the viewer feel like they're part the movie and gain some insight into the characters. It's a technique that very few other filmmakers have the guts to employ.
But I sincerely doubt that Leone's film would be so widely and wildly regarded if it weren't for the music of Ennio Morricone. I've already mentioned the main title theme and "The Ecstasy of Gold", but these are only two examples found in this amazing score. Can you imagine the final showdown without Morricone's music? I can't think of many instances where music and film go together to create such tension and anticipation. I've already used the word "brilliant" to describe Leone, but it's also applicable to Morricone.
Finally, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly wouldn't be the same without the three lead actors. Each, at least in this movie, is brilliant (there's that word again) in his own right. Clint Eastwood is "The Good". He's "The Good" in the sense that he's not as "bad" as the other two. Lee Van Cleef is "The Bad". He's a ruthless killer who would just as soon shoot you as look at you as long as the price was right. And then there's Eli Wallach as "The Ugly". As good as Eastwood and Van Cleef are, Wallach is really something special. Wallach's Tuco is one of the most crazed, but complicated characters I've seen. It's a special cast for a very special movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In New Mexico Territory circa 1862, a mysterious bounty-killer known as
"Blondie" (Clint Eastwood) and a shifty Mexican bandit, Tuco Ramirez
(Eli Wallach), run a con job wherein Blondie turns Tuco in for money
and then rescues him, splitting the reward money. However, the two
engage in numerous double-crossings against each other, until stumbling
across a dying Confederate soldier (Antonio Casale) who gives each man
a clue to the location of a hidden cache of gold. Tuco and Blondie
re-form their alliance to find the gold, only to find that Angel Eyes
(Lee Van Cleef), a ruthless hired gun, is already after the gold. The
three men form a frequently-changing series of alliances to get at the
gold, and they must avoid the Union and Confederate armies operating in
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is a landmark film in many respects. Its cultural influence is nigh-impossible to overstate, with its iconic musical score by Ennio Morricone, three memorably amoral protagonists, the close-ups, vast landscapes, and the title itself, all of which are instantly recognizable icons of cinema, having been referenced and replicated time and again in movies, TV shows, and even commercials. It is Sergio Leone's first truly great film, a transition from the low-budget Spaghetti Westerns ("A Fistful of Dollars", "For a Few Dollars More") to the big budget, artistic epics that Leone would make for the rest of his career ("Once Upon a Time in the West/America"). It is also a film of utmost importance to me; after watching this movie as an eleven year old, admiring its wonderfully quirky characters, style, music, and breath-taking cinematography, I realized for the first time that I wanted to devote my life to films, be it watching them, writing on them, or hopefully making them.
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is a full-blown epic, and one with an interesting subtext. We see three completely amoral characters whose crimes - robbery, murder, and racketeering - are minor compared to the brutal carnage we see the Civil War inflicting. Taking place during the little-known Sibley Campaign in New Mexico, the film is not a documentary depiction of the war, but an allegorical one. This was the first total war, and Leone uses it as a metaphor for conflict in general, with faceless mass slaughter inflicted by rifles, machine guns, and artillery. Blondie, Tuco, and Angel Eyes' transgressions are minor compared to a brutal, Auschwitz-like concentration camp, spies being executed in the streets, towns being shelled, and vicious, stalemated trench warfare over a "flyspeck" of a bridge. Even our amoral heroes have amounts of humanity which set them apart from the machine-like slaughter around them; Blondie saves Tuco's life and comforts dying soldiers of both sides; Tuco struggles with a mixture of affection and hatred for Blondie, and his troubled relationship with his brother (Luigi Pistilli), and even Angel Eyes shows disgust at the carnage he sees.
The movie is extremely episodic, the plot only secondary to the adventures of these characters. Leone's wonderful direction gives the film a fairy-tale quality, with an appearance of realism while being fanciful and at times almost surreal. The movie contains extremely memorable set pieces: the lengthy opening, with three gunmen going after Tuco; the "carriage of the spirits"; the prison camp; a shootout in a town under shellfire; an epic Civil War battle; Tuco running excitedly through the cemetery; and, of course, the unforgettable climactic "triello". Tonino Delli Colli's cinematography is simply breath-taking, with desert landscapes as impressive as David Lean's films contrasting with the most extreme close-ups imaginable. Carlo Simi's set designs, from shelled-out towns to prison camps to the cemetery, is breath-taking. And Ennio Morricone's score is, for lack of a better word, one of the most amazing ever written, the instantly recognizable theme tune and other brilliant pieces creating the movie's indescribable atmosphere.
The cast creates unforgettably iconic characters. Clint Eastwood is back as the Man With No Name, here much more human in this film despite retaining his cool, detached, shifty nature. Lee Van Cleef, who had played a likable character in Leone's previous film, now plays one of the most memorably evil characters ever. Aldo Giuffre, Antonio Casas, and Luigi Pistilli are effective in supporting roles, and Leone's usual stock cast - Mario Brega, Benito Stefanelli, Al Muloch, Aldo Sambrell, and many others - create their own iconography. But it's Eli Wallach who steals the show, as the scenery chewing Tuco, a shifty, double-crossing, foul-mouthed bandit who manages to be the most likable and human of the cast despite his faults; truly, one of the most memorable film characters ever.
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is one of the most well-known and influential movies ever made, and with good reason. In terms of style, it is an absolute triumph, being one of the most amazingly made movies ever made. Those only familiar with the movie for its cast, its score, or peripherally through its iconic stature, are missing out on one of the most breath-taking cinematic experiences ever. Thank you, Sergio Leone.
People like to throw the term 'Masterpiece' around and rarely is it
ever as apt and as TRUE when concerning Sergio Leone's The Good the Bad
and The Ugly.
I mean, where to start? How about the music for instance, Morricone writes truly inspirational and masterful work, sure, everyone knows the theme tune, but his music has influenced EVERY western reference since. He captures the mood, the emotion and makes this movie EPIC with his wonderfully orchestrated scores. The landscapes and scenery are visually stunning and it's perfectly filmed for true atmosphere, intertwining with the aforementioned music, well it's nothing short of magnificent. Every scene is influential and significant, and equally as intriguing. The acting by Clint Eastwood can take no other meaning but 'cool'. He is what every gun-slinging', cigarette chewing cowboy is based on post-this and no doubt has inspired TONS of action heroes (Or indeed Villains) throughout cinema.
But the storyline isn't as basic as one would first imagine: three gunmen searching for a rather large sum of money, it seems that simple. However, all of the gunmen have complex personalities and none are flawless in moral judgment, to which it is hard to judge who is indeed 'Good', 'Bad' or 'Ugly'. The classic 'Good Versus Evil' situation that is such a frequent theme in film (And coincidentally, more often in westerns) is slightly blurred in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and I personally think there is no definite and it is left up to the viewer to decide.
This movie is simply essential viewing, an all-time classic and much deeper than would first appear. Incredible.
This is one of the few films truly deserving of the term masterpiece.
Whether you view your films looking for great entertainment or great
art, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" will surely not fail you. Just
about every aspect of the film is flawless, from the stylish direction
of Sergio Leone, the memorable score by Ennio Morrecone, and a trio of
ultra cool yet accomplished lead performances (Clint Eastwood, Eli
Wallach, Lee Van Cleef).
Some have complained this film is overlong. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is never once remotely boring or slow paced, and an epic length is needed to tell such a good story. The length is just perfect. Sergio Leone was a master craftsmen and managed to create awe-inspiring action films as good as Kurosawa. This will always be his masterpiece, even though there are many who prefer "Once Upon a Time In the West". While that is a great film also, it never managed to stick out in my mind as well as this one does. The beauty of the closing sequence of the search for gold in the graveyard manages to amaze me with every viewing.
Special note needs to go to the acting. As the Good, Clint Eastwood turns in one of his finest portrayals. Dangerous yet showing many redeeming qualities, its obvious Eastwood didn't want this to be a one dimensional character. He succeeded. As the Bad, Lee Van Cleef shows why he was such a criminally neglected character actor. As bad ass as Lee Marvin and yet as good an actor as Humphrey Bogart, its a shame he was stuck in mostly grade-b roles. And as the Ugly, Eli Wallach is also superb. Slimy, greasy, throughly unlikable yet oddly compelling all the same.
I can't forget to mention Ennio Morrecone's score. It has become one of the most instantly recognizable in popular culture, and for good reason. Its instantly memorable and suits all the action on screen perfectly.
If you haven't seen "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly", well, what are you waiting for? Its one of the few films that is truly essential. Hell, even the rest of IMDb seems to agree with me. (10/10)
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has a very basic storyline - 3 cowboys trying to collect a fortune in gold. Sergio Leone then set this story against a backdrop of the American civil war. It is visually stunning, and has enough action for 10 films, let alone 1. Okay, so its not geographically or historically correct, but seriously, if you care about those things so much that you don't like the film, then you are just plain sad. The 3 main characters are excellent; Clint Eastwood as the laid back hero, Eli Wallach as his dirty Mexican partner and Lee van Cleef as the evil gunman who kills for a living. The whole film is like a work of art, leading up to the final gunfight in a stadium like cemetery, 1 of the best scenes in film history. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly isn't one of those films that is thought provoking, but it is one of the best simply because for 3 hours it is very entertaining, and a thing of beauty.
Sergio Leone is an underappreciated talent. His skill, in most cases,
exceeds what he actually puts on the screen. This is, by far, his crowning
achievement and the culmination of both his work and Clint Eastwood's
career. After this, it is only pushing the plateau without
The primary focus of this movie is not the characters, the story winds up being the least of Leone's concerns. Instead, he is concerned about the camera and the music. Ennio Morricone, a genius in his own right, was seriously ignored by the Academy for his compilation here--certainly one of the Top 10 ever. He understands the crude editing of the mid-60s and exploits everything he can from the vision onscreen. If Leone was dissatisfied with the Ennio's final product, something MUST have been wrong with him.
The camera is another element that never lies. Modern filmmakers should study this before they try emulating MTV next time. With Leone's grandeur and a cast that understands that they aren't the real focus, how can he lose?
The story, while it isn't the greatest, is better delivered than such works as The Wild Bunch. Perhaps only High Noon understands the value of pacing and what to reveal/not reveal to the audience. Then again, Fred Zinnemann is an entirely different director. The character interaction here is certainly better than what Gary Cooper has to offer, not to mention the dialog includes some uncanny deliver by Eli Wallach.
Overall, a classic. This is a definer of the unconventional Western and visual literature. 4.5 out of 5 stars. A must see.
... but i still want to jostle in with more than half of a thousand
other reviews just to type: this is undoubtedly THE best Western movie
ever and easily one of the best masterpieces of all time. Even the most
noble adjectives preserved particularly for art praising found in
Merriam- Webster are too mundane to captivate its greatness.
Please watch this classic before you die.
R.I.P Leone and thank you for blessing your fellow humans such a great gift.
P.S: Eli Wallach + Lee Van Cleef + Clint Eastwood = the most bad-ass narrow- eyes gang in Hollywood.
Sergio Leone's 1966 Western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly unfolds
under this hostile, violent and hate filled umbrella of Civil War
America; a fitting backdrop of ongoing warfare and hostilities to which
two American men and a Mexican bandit strive to find a large box full
of valuable coins buried out in the big country somewhere behind
Confederate Army lines. In using a plot item as routine as said example
and applying it to a relatively routine singular strand arc for the
film's narrative to take, Leone essentially breathes so much life into
a set up and plot plan that about half way through you forget the basic
bare bones of the movie and find yourself going with it, utterly
immersed in the tale the director's laying out in front of you. So much
has been written and said about the film, like other such examples at
the top of each genre, that further comment and analysis may seem
futile. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly may very well be the pinnacle to
the western as Psycho might be to horror or Apocalypse Now to the war,
for instance. If it isn't, or either of the said examples aren't, then
there will still be a large cluster of individuals that would sternly
The film begins with a loud and confrontational title sequence, a brash and expansive manner in which to announce your film has arrived; the sort that sees a flashing of character faces and arrays of different colour, a sequence in which even the little animated horse gets the full force of a cannonball that's been fired off. It sets the tone for a no holds barred ride of guns; gunslingers and no nonsense people with no nonsense attitudes as observations of greed and that of both a mid and post-war crumbling society plays out. The film features some of the best direction I've ever seen; Leone's ability to shift gears and change the film's tact from one thing to another, as loyalties shift and events take a turn for the different is near-flawless. His ability to essentially construct a number of small, minute set-pieces amidst this wide-open and dusty, hostile setting is immaculate; but the change of tact he applies later on towards the end of the film in capturing a Civil War battle between the North and South is just as impressive; portraying a larger fight sequence as the inevitable showdown between the film's three main players draws nearer and that sense their showdown will be of a similarly epic proportion, despite it being just another gunfight and despite the fact all of those thus far have been between grossly outmatched participants.
Leone is all for spectacle and action to propel the plot, but his ability to capture the little things; the terrain and just the sounds that it omits is wonderful. The introduction of Angel Eyes, aka The Bad (van Cleef), for instance sees a young boy flee into his house on first sight of him as he arrives; Angel Eyes' boots stomping on a stone floor whilst he approaches an elderly man sitting at a table as a dog barks outside, all of it a routine use of composition and SFX, but the drawn out editing process; the fact a kid ran for his life at first sight of him and the semiotical driven noise of a barking dog which suggests a rabid animal or ominousness build the scene and character without anyone ever explaining or saying anything.
They call him The Bad because he shoots without mercy and takes without conscience, leaving a family in tatters and on another occasion beats a girl to a near pulp until she gives him what info he's looking for. The name Angel Eyes is wholly ironic. This makes Clint Eastwood's 'Good' (aka Blondie) and Wallach's 'Ugly' (aka Tuco) perhaps look more favourable than they actually are when it's revealed they're mostly in it together against this blackly dressed; father/husband murdering; woman slapping figure of evil. Tuco and Blondie's relationship is a strange one, a mutual appreciation of one another and the death they leave in their wake. Tuco would no sooner shoot Blondie, than hang him, than act like they're best friends. No longer is 'The Good' of a western limited to wearing the sheriff's badge and/or cleaning up towns of drunks and no-good varmints; as here, 'The Good' would much rather come across as upstanding; fleece a local sheriff of $2,000 and then make off with the cash against the guy he was initially in tow with.
Tuco's raging attitudes are captured in a single shot that encompasses a sketching of Christ on the cross as he swigs alcohol whilst wearing an eye-patch, the film at a point where Tuco seems to be doing good in aiding an old friend but perhaps with a traitorous eye still on the prize as the patch acts as a visual distinction of the two sides of his face doubling up as his sinful and righteous attitudes, whereas he gives the Holy Trinity throughout. But THE scene that encapsulates his character is in a store early on during which, betrayed and foaming at the mouth for revenge, he fondles some handguns in front of an elderly clerk before angrily discarding them. He then fondles some more and asks for bullets, drawing you into the scene in an utterly effective manner and its threat element within as we wonder what he has in store for the clerk above all else. There's a solid hour of character involvement and some set-piece exchanges which work wonderfully well; and a later juxtaposition between diegetic musical content with an interrogation brought a smirk to my face when I realised whom it was that felt so inspired to pay homage to such a sequence. The film is engrossing, rich in detail on so many levels and an absolute outright winner of a piece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is one of those movies that everyone
has heard of but not enough people have seen. It pushed itself rather
boldly into pop culture and 44 years after it first hit theaters in
Italy, it still gains respect and admiration in the United States.
It's the third part of the Man With No Name Trilogy, and was preceded by Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, both of which are very commendable films themselves. All three movies revolve around the titular man, who goes by a different alias in each film, this time being called Blondie. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly is a prequel to the first two movies, meaning that it is not required to watch them first and this film stands alone fine.
The story begins by introducing us to our three central characters: the violent but childish Tuco (the ugly), the heartless mercenary Angel Eyes (the bad), and the mysterious bounty hunter Blondie (the good). While traveling through the desert, Blondie and Tuco come across a dying man who knows the location of a huge deposit of gold buried in a cemetery. Tuco hears the name of the cemetery and Blondie hears the name of the grave, but neither will tell the other for fear of being double-crossed so they are forced to work together. As they embark on an incredibly journey through 1860s Southern America as it is torn apart by the Civil War, they encounter various obstacles including but not limited to the involvement of Angle Eyes, who also wants the money. The whole thing ends with a heart-pounding standoff at the center of the cemetery in which all three men put their lives on the line.
The story is gripping and genuinely interesting, the actors all put forth outstanding performances, the cinematography is as good as it gets, the music has to be heard to be believed, and the climax is one of the most intense events ever recorded on film. There's no such thing as a perfect movie, but this one comes as close as any will likely get.
I want the rating meter to allow me to rate it more than 10. I love
this epic movie. Patiently shot and created , it exudes a scent of
eternal beauty. This is my friends every movie goer's delight. A movie
which can't be bettered. Full of outrageously funny puns and comic
lines; made with an audacious appetite for cinematic patience, this
movie has it all.
The background score is classic. I still get charged when I see the final scenes of the movie playing to Ennio Morricone's The Trio.
Deep dialogues an unbelievably smooth screenplay this movie is perfect.
It's detractors complain that some parts are overdone and are too clichéd. Well those things hardly matter when you have Blondie, Tuco, Angel Eyes , The drunk Army Captain on screen exhibiting something completely out of this world in terms of cinematic achievement.
I have never seen a better genre in movies than westerns and in that genre this movie stands out. This movie is undoubtedly the greatest one ever made in any genre.
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