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Civil War, gold is up for grabs, and three dirty cowboys all want it.
Seems like a regular Western. It's a good thing film-directing God
Sergio Leone and cowboy-extraordinaire Clint Eastwood paired up,
because in that genre, there isn't a better match. To this day, there
hasn't been a movie that comes close to the depth and craft that his
It's a beautifully woven-together piece of cinema that Sergio knows what to do with. He creates a feeling of both intensity and humor by portraying the three key characters with one trait only; The Good (Clint Eastwood), The Bad (Lee Van Cleef), and The Ugly (Eli Wallach). These characters follow their own instincts, whether it be good or bad, and let nothing stand in their way of recovering the gold. The only problem is, they have to work together to get it. One knows the place of the gold (a graveyard), and one knows which grave it's buried under. Just how long does it take until the cowboys let their pride and betrayal ruin their treasure hunt? Though the beautiful directing is immensely distinct and original, the movie is very plot-driven. The characters don't matter to us. We could have The Good play The Ugly and it would still be the same outcome. But from Sergio's vision, comes a truly magnificent submission into the psychology of the Civil War civilians and determined, gun-shooting varmints.
At first, we meet the characters by obviously seeing them do what they're intended to do. The Ugly robs a store, The Bad kills a few people, and The Good saves someone's life. After that, we see that The Ugly and The Good are actually working together to do what dirty cowboys do best; collect their money. Upon finding out about the treasure, all three characters become The Determined, and both work together and hang each other by the necks (literally) to find the gold.
From beginning to end, "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" is utterly entertaining and unique. It can be called both a Western and a War movie. As the plot develops and thickens, we see more of the setting than in all other Westerns combined. Everything is twice as big, and everything is twice as dirty. A definite classic, that defined cinema in more than one way, with its memorable score, to the never before seen directing, the movie stands as one of (if not the) best movies of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The basic plot of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY has been done before.
In fact, the film inverts the premise of TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.
In TREASURE, the three men searching for the gold worked as a team. The
team broke down because of external pressure (the bandits) and internal
pressure (Fred C. Dobb's paranoia). In THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY,
the three men searching for the gold never team up. They are kept apart
by internal pressure (the fact that one of them is a murdering sadist)
and external pressure (the ebb and flow of the Civil War).
In TREASURE, only one member of the team knew how to find gold. Here, the location of the gold is a secret. Two men know opposite halves of the secret. Blondie (Clint Eastwood) knows a name on a grave. Tuco Ramirez (Eli Wallach) knows the name of the cemetery. Their shared secret forces the two men into an uneasy alliance. The third seeker is Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), a professional killer. He has learned about the gold from one of his victims.
The opening and Ennio Morricone's unique theme music set the tone: this will be a harsh, gritty, offbeat film. Freeze-frames tell us which character will be good (Blondie), which will be bad (Angel Eyes) and which will be ugly (Tuco). The difference between the three men isn't motive, since they all want the same thing. What sets them apart from each other is what they are willing to do to get it. Angel Eyes will torture and kill anybody who gets in his way. Tuco is a bully and a loudmouth, but he only kills in self-defense. Blondie is quiet and intelligent, a planner who carefully works out every detail well in advance.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY is set in a harsh, unforgiving landscape. The quest for the gold takes our characters through a desert, a prison camp, a war-ravaged frontier town, a Civil War battle and, finally the cemetery where the inevitable showdown happens. The few outposts of civilization huddle against a vast, imposing wilderness. In such places, even the best man has to be a little bit bad and ugly to survive.
I'm going to start this review by saying this: there is not western
that can compare to this, hell, there may not even be any movie that
can compare to this. Only a handful come to my mind, and it's a very
small handful at that.
Sergio Leone's classic western provides the perfect ensemble of cinematography, direction, acting, story, and last, but not least, music. Leone's film about three greedy men in the search for 500,000 in gold exemplifies the dirty west. This is not your typical American western, where the sun-drenched west is romanticized. No, it's dirty and rough, just like the west was. If anyone wanted to watch the film that is the antithesis the "chick-flick," I would recommend The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
Clint Eastwood reprises his iconic Man With No Name in this final film in the Dollars Trilogy. Lee Van Cleef returns from A Few Dollars More; however, he plays a different (much different) character. The actor who steals the show has to be Eli Wallach. Wallach, a western veteran, plays Tuco with great viciousness and humor, making him likable and unlikeable at the same time; he truly is "ugly." Leone and his cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli pack the film with great shots of the west, from the tired sands of the desert, to the endless graves of a cemetery (which was actually located in Spain). Ennio Morricone combines Colli's lush cinematography with the greatest score ever put onto film. From the easily recognizable theme, to the sad Story of a Soldier, to the excitement of Ecstacy of Gold, this soundtrack has it all.
What more can I say? If you haven't seen The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, see it now! I can not press you more. This is one of those films that could be considered perfect, or the closest to perfection. A classic that shall never be forgotten; a classic that shall always be admired.
'Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il' was at its release in 1966 a very
unconventional Western epic that follows the travails of three
gunfighters looking for $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold.
Also known as 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', it was Italian-born (Rome, 3 January 1929) Sergio Leone's third so-called spaghetti Western after 'Per un pugno di dollari', aka 'For a Fistful of Dollars' (1964) and 'Per qualche dollaro in più', aka 'For a Few Dollars More' (1965).
It is generally considered one of the best films of its kind ever made, a masterpiece, one that almost inexplicably continues to get better with each viewing. In a way, it's a morality play, weighing the consequences of good and evil, but it does so in its realistic portrayal that sometimes, crime DOES pay, at least in the short term, and sometimes good DOES go unrewarded.
This film ushered in a new concept of a previously all too oft told Western story, probably tolling the death knell for the traditional American-made, Good guy/ Bad guy, White hat/ Black hat Western that was so prevalent before it.
The three main characters of the film are as powerful as Leone's brilliant vision of the Civil War era America, he used as their backdrop. Lee Van Cleef ('The Bad') is evil in the flesh. Beedy-eyed and totally ruthless, he believes it only takes one thing to be successful: whatever is necessary.
Clint Eastwood ('The Good') is the now legendary 'Man With No Name', but 'good' only in a Western concept of non-traditional good. He has a sometimes detectable and occasionally observable sense of honor that motivates his behavior and conduct from time to time.
Eli Wallach ('The Ugly') is Tuco, and he's easily the most colorful character in the film. Impulsive and full of barely suppressible rage, Tuco gyrates wildly throughout the movie, stealing, lying, pretending to be a best friend in one scene, trying to kill in another. Tuco truly represents 'the ugly' side of human behavior.
At two hours and forty-one minutes, the movie was lengthy for its day, but there's neither a single scene that seems unnecessary, nor does the film seem lengthy while viewing it. The film unfolds with a charismatic style and grace, slowly revealing more and more about each character and the film's story. The pace of the film expertly captures the flavor of the time, giving the viewer a rare peek into a page of American history come alive on film.
Director Sergio Leone (who contributed to another epic of note: 'Ben-Hur' as an uncredited second unit director in 1959) manages to build a lot of sometimes unsettling tension in the film, thus preventing the longer than usual movie from ever getting uncomfortable or predictable. Every typical Western cliché possibly imaginable is either given a unique twist or utterly destroyed by Leone's masterful storytelling. Of special honorable mention is Ennio Morricone's original music score, which is about as masterful and complementary as it gets, culminating in the climatic gunfight in the cemetery at the end of the film. The music is so rich and powerful it easily stands on its own merits, and is one of the biggest selling original movie soundtracks to date. It is impossible to imagine the film without it.
'Unforgiven' may well have been the sequel to 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', the story of what eventually happened to the 'Man With No Name', and won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, and the nomination for Best Actor for Eastwood in 1992 (the film also was nominated in six other categories and won in three of those). Eastwood dedicated this movie to Sergio Leone who died 30 April 1989 in Rome, and who had believed in him early in his career.
Call it 'Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il' or call it 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', but after seeing it you'll call this movie absolutely brilliant at MANY levels, including the one mentioned above by Kitchener.
It is a classic like no other, and is easily one of the best Westerns and films of its kind ever made.
There are hundreds of comments here on this movie and most of them are of high acclaim which comes as no surprise to me. Many have included this in their all-time top 10 films and again it comes as no surprise. With those I agree, this is a great film. There is little I can add that hasn't been said here but I will go back to the beginning. I was a Clint Eastwood fan when I was a kid from his role as Rowdy Yates in Rawhide. When he made the Spaghetti Westerns as they were called, I of course had to see him on the big screen. A Fistfull of Dollars and A Few Dollars More were unlike the typical Hollywood Westerns of the 50's and 60's. Italian and American actors in low budget productions with overdubbed dialog filmed in Spain which was supposed to be Mexico or the US Soutwest. Heavy on style with strange music. Raw realism emerged from this strange brew and I loved them. Then this came out. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Just the title itself was so impressive you knew this was going to go to another level from the first two. And it did. Ennio Morricone's music was so different and wonderfully strange and remains so even today. It was the perfect soundtrack score for this film. Sergio Leone's direction and his story and screenplay along with Luciano Vincenzoni and cinematography by Tonio Delli Colli are superb. A great cast with Eastwood, Van Cleef and Wallach. Eastwood's Hang Em High and High Plains Drifter that would follow were good but they couldn't top this. I've seen this dozens of times on TV but I haven't seen it on the big screen since it's initial release. This film ran a little long but it didn't matter because this was clearly a masterpiece. And so it remains. I would give this a 10 and highly recommend it. I'd love to see it on the big screen again.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was never really a fan of westerns until I saw The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. This is one of the greatest movies ever. Sergio Leone is a master director, who has also made Once Upon a Time in America, and Once Upon a Time in the West. He is probably the best visual director of all time. He films the cowboys like they are a part of the vast western landscape themselves. His pacing is patient, which works very well in his films. Some criticize his movies for moving too slow, but that allows for much build-up and some scenes and sequences that you will never forget. Clint Eastwood is the ultimate western gangster in this movie. This is where he first truly showcased his brilliance as an actor. If you have not seen this film for some strange reason, get up and watch this masterpiece before you die. Did I mention the score? It is in the same league as the score for Jaws. Intense. Powerful. Mesmerizing. Beautiful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It is a settling
of grievances between the present and the past. The more powerful the
nostalgia, the closer you come to violence. War is the form nostalgia
takes when men are hard-pressed to say something good about their
country." Don DeLillo
"God's not on our side because he hates idiots also." - Blondie
Italian iconography meets Akira Kurosawa meets Hollywood Westerns, Sergio Leone's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" marks the point at which cinema took its first big steps (if we ignore the works of Godard) into the arena of postmodernity. From here would spawn the likes of George Lucas's "Star Wars" and later Tarantino's "Kill Bill", each generation of Leone devotees increasingly flat and weightless.
Leone's own work would become increasingly suffused with postmodernism's undertow of nostalgia and regret, films like "West" and "America" less about plot than they are a film nerd's feverish dreams, all the tropes of the gangster and the western genre fetishized and mourned, a series of melancholic referrals to Ford, Hawks, Boetticher, Anthony Mann, Raoul Walsh, George Stevens and the hard boiled literature of Chandler and Hammett (the first two "dollars" movies are essentially film noirs with horses). These films aren't about the passage of time, but the passage of cinema, a child's attempt to hold on to the images of his past. No surprise that Leone's cites John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" as his favourite Western, as it's Ford's most melancholic and nostalgic film.
Leone's films are thus primarily concerned about living with the image of "America", and never "being" American. His films revolve around a vision of America as an all pervading presence always seen from a distance, through the image. In this regard, many of his films rely on flashbacks and memory. Think the nostalgia, longing and melancholy of Colonel Mortimer in "For a Few Dollars More", of Harmonica and Cheyenne in "West", and the protagonists of "Dynamite" and "America", all of whom reflect Leone's own nostalgic feelings towards an America which he imagined, discovered, idealised, desired and naively longed for as a child (and latter as an artist). Paradoxically, however, Leone's nostalgia doesn't owe itself to distance from or homesickness for real things and places; his is a purely artistic, and so dangerous, nostalgia. What he misses are signifiers, artistic representations, and so the constant in Leone's films is therefore not subversion (that's Altman), like many claim, but rather infatuation; in the end, myths remains myths and at most they can be restated and updated, but not overturned.
French philosopher Jean Baudrillard dubbed "The Good the Bad and The Ugly" the moment when modernism died and cinema began its crawl toward postmodernism. Baudrillard uses this term in a negative sense, speaking of a cultural obsession with "lost objects", referrals and went on to predict art's progression toward a kind of "weightlessness" (eg "Kill Bill") or reliance on resurrection and pastiche. While this is true for Leone's later films, "TGTBATU" belongs more to that sweet spot in world cinema (the late 60s and early 70s) in which iconoclasts like Antonioni, Altman, Peckinpah, Kubrick, Godard etc were thriving.
And so while "TGTBATU" pulls from everywhere, both stylistically (the opening credits are modelled on the James Bond franchise, a series which Leone loved) and logistically (the film had financial backers in Germany, Spain and America, the cast were from all over the world and all spoke different languages etc), it's far more than a celluloid mash-up. It retains a certain weight typical of the 60s, more akin to the violent works of Siegel and Arthur Penn or the revisionist westerns of Altman, Peckinpah and late career Huston and Ford. Of course during this period you also had other extremely important but less known directors like Monte Hellman, Sydney Pollack, Robert Benton, Abraham Polonsky, George Hill, William Wiard, Elliot Silverstein and Ralph Nelson all making different kinds of interesting westerns ("Tom Horn", "A Man Called Horse", "Soldier Blue" etc).
The point is, Leone didn't "shatter the myth" of the Old West. Everyone during this period was doing that. Everyone was working against traditional concepts of heroism and justice. No, what Leone did was re-mythologise the West using the iconoclastic techniques of 60s and 70s cinema. He dirtied things up and then put these larger than life men back up on pedestals.
Of course what "TGTBATU" is really known for is its wonderful "comic book" style. Bob Dylan crossed from folk to electric in 1965, and here was Leone making the same transition, serving up a rock and roll Western with electric guitars. And so we have masterful widescreen Techniscope compositions, powerful juxtapositions between wide shots and extreme close ups, Ennio Morricone's innovative score, a cast of slimy, dirty heroes (the film's sloppy sound dubbing works in its grimy favour) and a tale that is flippant, ironic and playfully told.
Though thin like a comicbook, the film also has a very primordial undertow, a certain weight, with its dreamlike terrain of bombed out ghost towns and a soundtrack which mimics rattlesnakes, coyotes and horses. Its plot may simply consists of sweaty scroungers navigating a landscape perpetually covered in war, death and suffering, but there's nevertheless something very "human", existential even, about the film. Leone distills human nature down to simple elements and then injects a tone of regret such that the film seems to mourn the very "archetypal humanity" it revels in. Seems to mourn the very greed, violence and death that orbits around and within its small cast of characters. According to Leone, there's a little bit of good, bad and ugliness in everybody. Every bastard in this film earns our sympathy, even if we know they'd be the first to stab us in the backs.
9.5/10 (TGTBATU) 8.5/10 (FAFDM), 8/10 (DYS, OUATIA, AFOD), 7.9/10 - (OUATITW)
Varying opinions on this film posted, but for me its a top quality,
ground breaking film that is timeless. This is the ultimate test of a
great film. It stands up with any modern classic, it has humour,
twists, stylised violence, and its just a top film.It wasn't the first
spaghetti western i know, but i think its by far the best. I just wish
they had done a sequel to this. Some how i don't think Tuco was a man
to take this lying down .... or hanging around.
"Hey, Blond ... You know what you are? Just a dirty son of a-bi ....."
Tuco now had all the money he could wish for, but no one double crosses Tuco and lives . . .
It is already a long time ago, I have seen this film for the first time. I think it was sometimes in the eighties. The impression was good but not excellent. But until now i have seen this film so many times!! And I must say, with every looking, this film gets better and better. I have also seen the two other films of the "Dollar"-trilogy and this film is the best by far. The sense of humor of this film is the key factor. Especially the performance of Eli Wallach is outstanding. For me the best actor ever. On the one side there are great actors (Eli Wallach, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef) and on the other side there is a remarkable storyline. It's a story about three "criminals" who are playing some tricky games during the war between the South States and the North States. All in all its a very entertaining film with much suspense and great music! 10 points out of 10!!
"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" has become the ultimate iconic film.
Its broad images have become a staple for all that would eventually
follow from Advertising, Pop Videos to future Western productions and
Horror flicks. None can or want to escape the extraordinary visual
flare and style of its Director. It is just too damn fashionable.
Sergio Leone's influence cannot be overstated.
The exalted position of this Spaghetti Classic is #3 in the Top 250 films ever made according to The Internet Movie Data Base. Whether this position is justified is debatable but the good news is that this Classic Film was made over 41 years ago. The Top 250 list has proved somewhat unreliable because the latest Cinema Releases are voted on in greater numbers than the Classics of yesteryear and so it reflects a very modern bias. Substandard films like Martin Scorsese's poor re-make "The Departed" or "The Bourne Ultimatum" have found themselves in the Top 100 relatively quickly.
The positive of the IMDb Top 250 list is that it is constantly evolving and it also represents the general publics take on the medium. A crowd pleaser like "The Shawshank Redemption" has found itself consistently within the Top 5 and at present is at #2. That film found its audience not in the Cinema but by word of mouth and subsequent DVD sales.
The problem as a whole is that the general public forgets the older Classic rather quickly because they hamper for the newest release. In some cases what is old is regarded with contempt.
At a dinner in Hollywood I sat next to a famous producer and his beautiful doll-like wife. We began to talk about "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and what an impact it has had on modern cinema. His wife stopped our conversation with the subtly of shooting a blunderbuss into the air.
"Why would you want to see that" she said, "its old!"
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