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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (1966)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Collector's Edition)
Genres:
Epic Western, Outlaw (Gunfighter) Film, Revisionist Western, Spaghetti Western, Western
Director:
Sergio Leone Sergio Leone
Starring:
Eli Wallach Eli Wallach
Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood
Lee Van Cleef Lee Van Cleef
Aldo Giuffrè Aldo Giuffrè
Luigi Pistilli Luigi Pistilli

8.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 27, 2007
As far as Westerns go, Sergio Leone pretty much invented the style that most movie goers currently associate with the genre. John Ford was the master and basically invented the genre, but Leone took the violence in the genre to a whole new level and made them more mainstream than ever before. Leone also knew the importance of music in a Western and thanks to the brilliant Ennio Morricone, created one of the most memorable and most appropriate scores in cinematic history. "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" was Leone's third film in an unrelated series of films which also included "A Fistful of Dollars" and "For A Few Dollars More". It was epic in scale, with a run time at around three hours and a narrative that comes in about six different parts.

The film centers around three men. Blondie (Clint Eastwood) is a professional gunslinger who is just out to make as much money as he can. Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) is a professional hitman who always gets the job done, no matter what the cost. And, Tuco (Eli Wallach) is a wanted outlaw trying to save himself. Blondie and Tuco form an unlikely bond and make a deal to collect Tuco's bounty and split it down the middle. But, when Blondie decides to back out on the deal, Tuco begins his mission to track Blondie down and seek revenge. Meanwhile, Angel Eyes is hot on the trail. When Tuco and Blondie stumble upon a carriage of dead bodies, the sole survivor tells them of a hidden treasure somewhere in a cemetery, and then the film takes new shape as the three men all race to find the buried gold, and eventually to a showdown for all the marbles.

Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, this film was shot on location in Spain and Italy, which is why the desert has a texture you're probably not used to seeing in contemporary Westerns. The art direction from Carlo Leva is absolutely outstanding and it really conveys the sense of a deconstruction period. With the sprawling landscape, what's funny is that you never really think you're in New Mexico or Texas -- you kind of always know you're in a different location from the United States, but it doesn't matter. Leone's narrative and visual style also take center stage here, as he gets more and more chances to show off what he has as a filmmaker. The film comes in about six different segments, but the film never gets boring, despite the run time. Leone takes time to develop all of his characters so much that the final showdown is nothing short of agonizing, especially in the way it is edited, with the random flashes getting faster and faster until the final heart stopping moments.

In terms of performances, Clint Eastwood is as minimalistic as ever as the 'good' Blondie and really says very little throughout the course of the film. It's not one of Eastwood's better performances, but he carries the role with his winks and his sarcasm and that cigarette dangling. Lee Van Cleef gets to sneer and snarl as the 'bad' portion of the film and gets what he deserves in the end, as do all villains. But, it's Eli Wallach as 'the ugly' that gets to have the most fun with his role. His role is the best written and the best performed. But, what's great is that none of these men are really 'good'. Blondie might have more morals than the rest, but he's not so far above them that I would consider him 'good'. Leone's film introduces us to these men, follows them for three hours for a series of misadventures, and then lines them up to die, in classic Western style.

This is not my favorite Sergio Leone Western, but it's pretty incredible. I think I like it so much because of the cinematography and the art direction. This film really is a sweeping epic.

9/10.
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