Thursday, August 30, 2012

#745. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966)

Directed By: Sergio Leone

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Tag line: "For Three Men The Civil War Wasn't Hell. It Was Practice!"

Trivia: Clint Eastwood wore the same poncho through all three "Man with No Name" movies without replacement or cleaning

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was the third and final chapter in director Sergio Leone’s “Dollars Trilogy”, a series that included 1964s A Fistful of Dollars and ‘65s For a Few Dollars More, and in the opinion of many fans and critics alike, this last entry is easily the best of the bunch.

As the American Civil War rages on, three gunslingers search for a hidden fortune in gold. Tuco (Eli Wallach) knows that the money is buried in a graveyard, but his old partner, Blondie (Clint Eastwood) - whom Tuco tried to kill at one point - is the only person who knows which headstone it’s under. Their tenuous partnership finds the two traveling miles in every direction, always one step ahead - or one behind - the violent war that is devastating the territory. 

Before long, the duo discovers that a third man, the tight-lipped assassin Sentezza (Lee Van Cleef), is also after the gold, and is ready to kill whoever stands in his way. Blondie and Tuco must work together to beat Sentezza to the cemetery, all the while looking for new and exciting ways to stab each other in the back. 

In fact, the only certainty in this whole fiasco is that before any one man can walk off with the loot, he’ll more than likely have to put a bullet in each of the other two!

I realize it’s a bit of a cliché to say that a film is “chock full of action”, but in the case of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, it’s the absolute truth. Within the first hour, there are twelve shootings, three failed hangings (and one that’s successful), four getaways, two paid bounties, a showdown, and a robbery.  On top of that, the Confederate Army pulls out of a town just before Union cannons reduce it to rubble, and a complex double-cross leads to a manhunt that brings about a brutal revenge under the hot desert sun. 

All of this in a single hour, or approximately one-third of the film’s running time. And rest assured, the remainder of the movie is every bit as thrilling, featuring further run-ins with both the Union and Confederate armies (in a humorous scene, Blondie and Tuco, disguised as Confederates, try to flag down what they believe is a small troop of southern cavalrymen, only to be taken prisoner when the soldiers dust off their grey uniforms to reveal they’re actually blue underneath), and a final showdown between the three main characters that might be the most dramatic in movie history, with plenty of extreme close-ups punctuated by the stirring score of Ennio Morricone.

While I’ll always be a fan of Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is his crowning achievement, an epic adventure that is shocking, engaging, poignant, and electrifying.

And that’s just the first hour!


Unknown said...

I didn't realise The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was the last of the three, but I certainly agree it was the best. (kind of opposite to what normally happens in movies today) And now you've made me want to watch all three again! One of my childhood favorites for sure. Aaaahhh Clint!

Nik Nak said...

I have to admit, Dave, I’ve never seen any of them: I might just have to rent them from iTunes …

Unknown said...

I liked how you mention how good it was, and that was only the first hour.

I totally agree. I loved it, and when I came to the suprise that I wasn't even 1/3 through, I knew this would be a movie I'd never forget. Masterful!

Unknown said...

It is actually a prequel to the other two. Not many know this.

James Robert Smith said...

Now I'm wondering if I've ever seen the full version. I probably have not.