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Eight of Ten Stars. I was so enamored of this movie as a teen that my Northwestern University freshman dorm wall was papered with big B&W posters of mssrs. Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef in the Fall of 1968. I was quite the little existentialist then; "If it feels good, DO IT!" was the mantra of my high school Senior English teacher. Well, it felt good, and bad, and ugly. I ended up dropping out of Northwestern after Kent State and, taking the soundtrack of GBU (in my head) with me to Vietnam in 1971, I proceeded to get a real-world education in the old 'ultra-violence' as an infantryman in the AMERICAL Division... WHAT you may ask does this have to do with an American Civil War movie, directed and written by an Italian Communist? (Sergio Leone's daddy may have been more of a commie than Sergio was, but the fact is that "A Fistful of Dollars" was STOLEN from Kurosawa, while "The Magnificent Seven" was PURCHASED years before. The end justifies the means? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/classic/articles/prof.html I found out firsthand the moral ambiguities of war. If only I had paid attention to the subtext in GBU! If only I had studied the Matthew Henry battlefield dead tintypes as Leone so obviously had! His hideous, rotting carcases of Union and Confederate soldiers, bloating in direct sunlight, would have sufficiently revulsed me from any notion that I could 'play soldier' and survive! But here I am, having just barely survived.... and I just got out of the fabulous Fox Theater here in Atlanta where the restored GBU was projected in all its Technicolor/Technirama glory at fully loaded, screaming Morricone volume.... there must have been at least a thousand people there, and hardly anyone moved. INCREDIBLE. It is said that the movie was made to the tunes Morricone made prior to production's start; i.e. Leone played the music while shooting the scenes! Hence, these epics are giant music videos - fantasias - symphonic cinema- they are huge, elegiac tone poems! And, God help me, I still love this movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie is a classic. It's spectacular, it's thrilling, it's
beautiful. You won't find anything like this now-a-days, no matter how
hard you try. Anyone who hasn't seen this movie should be ashamed of
The plot is simple - Blondie (Clint Eastwood), the Good, Tuco (Eli Wallach), the Ugly, and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), the Bad, are all after a stash of Confederate gold, holding 200,000 dollars in gold, during the American Civil War. Seems like a pretty simple plot for 1 and a half hours, let alone 3. So what drives this movie? Style. Cinematography. Atmosphere. Let me explain.
The first scene in the movie is the (rather unappealing) face of a bandit. It then switches to a wide shot of the small town he and his two companions are entering. A few more shots of the bandits. They enter an inn, and gunshots are heard. Out the window comes charging Tuco, clutching a gun in one hand and meat in the other. The image freezes while he's in midair, and the writing "The Ugly" appears on the screen. The first half hour or so serves to introduce the three main characters in similar fashion. No plot progression whatsoever, merely introduction. Most movies would fall with a start like that, but not this one. It takes more than an hour before the rush for the gold begins, and by that hour you already know everything you can and need to know about the three anti-heroes: Blondie is the Good. He is not good at all under normal standards, as he is an outlaw, a killer and he betrays his "friend". But he seems good in comparison to the other slime-balls in the movie: Tuco is a villain, pure and simple. He steals, murderers, rapes, and does a bunch of other nasty things. But he is still fun and amusing, while the sinister Angel Eyes stands in comparison - a menacing figure in black clothing with an evil mustache, who kills and double-crosses without blinking for a few more dollars.
And the movie doesn't follow a plot. The plot is just a background for the amazing scenes that come one after another and construct the movie - you go from one scene to the other. And there are many memorable scenes in this movie: The first time Blondie shoots the rope before Tuco is hanged to death. Blondie's march through the desert. Tuco and Blondie's capture by the Yankees. Tuco's torture. Tuco's gunfight in the tub and the classic line that follows. The showdown in the deserted town. The bridge being blown up. Tuco's search for the grave. And of course, the amazing climax. But I'll get to that later.
We've covered the style, but I also mentioned cinematography and atmosphere. And the cinematography is amazing. Wide shots of towns and deserts zoom to close-ups of desperate and rugged men. The effect is amazing, especially during gunfights. It creates tension and suspense, and that leads me to the second point I mentioned: atmosphere. This feels like the West. The people look dirty and hard-working. The buildings look rickety. And when time is spent looking at each other before the guns are drawn for a few short seconds when the men fire at each other, you feel what it's like to be there.
And finally, as I mentioned before, the climax. Possibly the best climax in a movie ever. A Mexican Standoff between the three main characters in the film - Blondie, Angel Eyes and Tuco. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Minutes pass as they stare at each other, each bringing their hand a bit closer to the gun. The music becomes more and more dramatic as time passes. You wait, and then... They fire, and it's over. A duel as a duel should be. It's mind-blowing.
Few movies can reach the level of this masterpiece. Fewer still can surpass it. They don't make 'em like this anymore, and it's a damn shame.
This movie has style - in a very elemental way - so to speak. You get
an idea of the deadly, dreary desert, the deadlier bounty hunters and
the deadliest of 'em all - Clint Eastwood - the man with no name! The
story is a simple one to follow and is brilliantly executed by Sergio
Leone using just the right landscapes along with some pretty good sets
too (like the one featuring the Civil War sequence). Some of the scenes
were meant to be symbolic (especially the Civil War scenes) and they
did their job well.
Eli Wallach is simply superb with his "Blondieeee!!!" screams and curses. Lee Van Cleef seems as deadly as the great Eastwood himself as "The Bad" guy.
Cinematography - not as continuous as one would like - but manages to convey the tension in the dueling scenes very effectively.
Also, the music - Ennio Morricone at his best! He has dished out some very innovative and brilliant stuff for all the three "great" westerns and this along with "For a Few Dollars More" seems to be his best.
Finally, the style! Sergio Leone can certainly teach a thing or two to Quentin Tarantino or The Wachowski Brothers - in fact Tarantino acknowledges Leone's great style. And then the epitome of style himself - Clint Eastwood - with a half-burnt cigar in his lips, unshaven face, tilted hat, ragged jeans, a worn out poncho and the sharpest scowl ever which can rub out any "Neo-with-million-dollar-goggles" off the face of the Earth.
Not genre-defining, surely - it was invented by Hollywood. But somebody from Europe really showed the world how to make westerns.
Upon release of this movie the critics were not so mild with there comments, but this is in my opinion the best western ever made! Everything in this movie is well balanced. It shows how the west really was in my opinion. The director Sergio Leone takes his time to tell the story. He uses different types of camera angles, extreme close ups etc. This makes The Good The Bad And The Ugly a feast for your eyes! Also the actors are well casted. Eastwood plays his part with excellence as do the other two actors. Especially Eli Wallach is perfect in his role of Tuco. The music of Ennio Morricone is also the best! The openings-tune is known all over the world.It's a movie I can watch over and over again. And every time I do so, I discover new things.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Greed.If you let it,it can overcome you.It has the power to turn your friends into enemies,and your enemies into friends.There's gold buried in a graveyard.There are three men.Two of them know what graveyard.The third knows what grave.These three men are not friends.Each one has nothing but contempt for the other two.That is,normally that would the case,but when there are riches untold involved,they are best friends willing to do anything to keep each other alive,even going so far as to declare war.....on a war.The Good,the Bad,and the Ugly is a well told story of greed and what it does to us if we let it.It is also great movie making from a time when the world wasn't in such a big hurry.It was OK to go ten minutes in a film without a single solitary word being spoken and to go from an extreme wide shot one minute to an extreme close up the next.It was non conventional for it's time,and that's what was,and still is,great about it.
I saw this movie for the first time on my tiny 15 inch screen of my TV/DVD player, and even on this minuscule format I was still simply amazed by the sheer scope of it. Now I understand and acknowledge the usual complaints against the film, namely the fact that the movie is almost three hours long with many scenes that tend to drag on for minutes with little dialog or action, however it is these scenes that make the movie the masterpiece that it is. Every shot whether it be an expansive landscape or an extreme close-up Sergio Leone draws you into his own version of the old west. A world where three men chase each other across the desert in search of 100,000 dollars worth of Confederate gold. Along the way they encounter Yankee and Confederate soldiers, Mexican bandits, bounty hunters in a journey that culminates in one of the most riveting showdowns in cinema history. What I found most interesting about this film however was the influence it obviously had on modern filmmaker Quentin Tarentino. Many of his trademarks (very memorable characters, long shots centered on a single character, intense standoffs involving multiple characters) can be found in abundance in this film as well. In fact Tarentino's Kun Fu epic Kill Bill goes so far as to barrow multiple songs from Leone's Dollars Trilogy. In the end all this adds up to make The Good the Bad and the Ugly in my opinion one of the greatest films of all time.
Quentin Tarantino has called it "the best-directed film of all time."
For me it is a majestic film. Sergio Leone is the greatest director. He
is the complete artist, stylist. His films have a specially charm,
though are full of the outrage. They are can watch for hundred times.
It is a quality of the great artist what was S.Leone. The fine story,
with a wonderful photography and adequate music of the greatest film
music composer E. Morricone plus the rhythm generates a masterpiece.
Does not need forget the excellent actors whose merit is the big for a
Most people choose 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly' as the best of Sergio Leone's superb spaghetti western "trilogy" (I'm putting trilogy in inverted commas because the three movies actually have no connection to each other, and Clint Eastwood, despite the "Man With No Name" tag, plays a different character in each). Now it's a very close call I admit, but as much as I love this movie I'm inclined to choose the one before it 'For A Few Dollars More' as my favourite. Anyway, this is still a superb piece of pure entertainment, and Leone's movies had a massive impact on not just the western genre but action and adventure movies of all kinds. Clint Eastwood is super cool playing "Blondie" just as he was as Joe in the first movie and Monco in the second. FAFDM added a strong supporting character by Lee Van Cleef, TGTBATU continues that (though Van Cleef is playing a completely different guy) and also brings in Eli Wallach as Tuco, who adds some nice comic touches. Blondie and Tuco have lots of great scenes together, but I could have done with a lot more Angel Eyes (Van Cleef), one of the greatest screen villains of all time. Having three strong roles instead of just Eastwood is one of the great things about this movie. Another great thing is the unforgettable score by Morricone. Morricone did some of his most memorable work with Leone, and this could just be the best of the lot. Certainly the main theme (a massive hit single in the late 1960s as covered by Hugo Montenegro) is one of the most recognisable and original pieces of film music ever. Another standout is the spectacular bridge scene, surely a direct inspiration for Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch', a movie which owed Leone a sizable debt in my opinion. It's very difficult to pick this movie apart and single out what is so great about it as it really works as a whole. There's almost nothing wrong with it. It's one of the greatest westerns ever made and a hugely enjoyable movie that is just as compelling on your tenth viewing as your first. If you haven't seen it before I still think watching 'A Fistful Of Dollars' and 'For A Few Dollars More' first is the smartest movie, despite the three movies being a trilogy in name only, and each of the three being able to stand alone. Each movie is brilliant stuff and each comes with my highest recommendation. Movies don't get much more entertaining than this!
I'm not a fan of westerns, but feel I've shoved myself in a sci fi
horror orientated corner of ignorance so am slowly working my way
through the IMDb top 250 in an attempt to broaden my horizons (and
possibly catch that rare film that blows u away without expecting it) I
did REALLY appreciate the level of accomplishment this film expressed.
For its time the cinematic atmosphere of comedy, emotion and gritty
drama was clearly above average for even now, and the acting skills
were brilliant and really added personality.
however (and i don't think its cuz I'm a girl) this film just wasn't for me. it was very slowly paced and i didn't manage to follow or care much for the characters stories.
that said, i would definitely recommend watching it as its surely one of those films that depends heavily on personal tastes, and judging it as a western just doesn't give it the respect it warrants.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is one of the pinnacles of my
experiences of a moviegoer. Not only is it my all-time favorite Western
and therefore, one of my all-time favorite movies regardless of genre,
but is a landmark in the history of cinema itself. First of all, it is
proof that oftentimes the simplest ideas are the best ones. The plot is
fairly simple: three men try to reach a buried fortune of Army gold
coins while the Civil War erupts around them. The story is even simpler
and yet the audience gets wrapped around in it as 160 minutes and those
160 minutes just seem to whip by so fast that when the movie does end,
we're craving for more. The film is also evidence that the Western is
not a dying genre, for this landmark film from Italian director Sergio
Leone has aged like wine; time has done nothing to varnish its style
and authority. And it is also proof that Spaghetti Westerns, which are
low in budget and oftentimes flamboyant and over-the-top, can be art,
This was the third and final time that Clint Eastwood worked with Sergio Leone. He returns again as the mysterious Man with No Name: a cigar-chugging bounty hunter quick on the draw and minimal in emotions. Here is the pinnacle of the vintage Eastwood as an actor, where he could manufacture a character by doing little other than squinting and hissing some sparse dialogue. Eastwood's in prime form here. The movie also features Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes, a mercenary/bounty hunter/Army colonel, the exact opposite of the warm-hearted character he played in the previous Western "For a Few Dollars More." But oddly enough, even though Eastwood gets top billing, the central character is Tuco, played with outstanding charisma and sharp energy by Eli Wallach. Wallach had played bad guys and anti-heroes before, but here as the bumbling, deliberately comical, greedy, self-centered, and yet somehow likable and personable Tuco, he steals the show. The movie stays interesting as these three men change partnerships with each other, whenever it seems convenient and when it'll bring them closer to the 200,000 dollars in stolen coins. These three characters, wonderfully written and acted, are an important column holding this film's roof up.
Sergio Leone was very much the David Lean of Italy. He could set up beautiful landscape shots and cinematography tricks like few others could. That's part of the reason why so little can happen for so long and yet the tension mounts higher than most. The way he also contrasts long shots with close-ups and montages it all is sheer brilliance. His timing is also exquisite. He knows how long to go, when to cut, when to produce a long take, when to crop a short one, and so on and so forth.
And I cannot leave out Ennio Morricone's music, which is even more famous than the movie itself. His main theme, which has been used in parodies and cultural references for more than forty years, is justifiably famous. But whereas it is usually used in parodies to produce a comical effect, here it fits the mood of the picture down to the bone. There's not a single weak cue of music in this marvelous soundtrack.
But what's most remarkable about this movie is that it sustains itself for the entirety of its 160-minute length and throughout most of it, very little happens. There are long stretches - minutes upon minutes - where virtually nothing happens. Oftentimes there isn't any music. It's not just the suspense of waiting for Leone's trademark bursts of action; the cinematography and the montage and the directing are so taut and winded together that the audience cannot even force themselves to look away. And if one seeks proof, they have to look no further than the film's climax. Of course because it's a Western, it will have an obligatory final showdown. But consider this showdown. We have three men facing each other down and it goes on for four minutes. Four minutes and the actors are hardly even moving. The only real movement is the camera, which is locked-down, but montaging amongst what is very nearly static images. Coupled with Ennio Morricone's heart-thumping music, this showdown, where very little happens for so long, comes across as one of the most electrifying climaxes in cinema history. Sure the music helps a lot, but it's the directing by Sergio Leone that really makes this scene so intense.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is most definitely one of the most important films of all time and it certainly has earned its immortality in the realm of the cinema. It is undoubtedly the greatest Spaghetti Western of them all and Sergio Leone's masterpiece. The first film is this trilogy, "A Fistful of Dollars" was nothing more than an off-beat, but fun remake of "Yojimbo." The second film was also entertaining and fun. But the third movie is a masterpiece. Even at a great length of 160 minutes, and having most of it consumed by silence and stillness, the film never falters to goes on for too long. It goes on and when it does at last end, the audience is left craving for more. They can satisfy themselves in two ways: a) seeking out Leone's director's cut, which is about twenty minutes longer and b) watching the movie again, something I have done and will continue to do many, many times.
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