The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

"Essential"

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Review


Positioned in history between the earnest majesty of John Ford's The Searchers and Sam Peckinpah's doomed cowboy dirge The Wild Bunch, Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is animated by the best those classic westerns have to offer. Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western masterpiece is still committed to many of the basic conventions of the not-yet moribund genre, embracing the wide-eyed epicness of Ford's standard-bearer. But Blondie (Clint Eastwood), Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef), and Tuco (Eli Wallach), the respective title characters, occupy a brutal and complex moral world akin to Peckinpah, where women are beaten, crippled fathers are executed in their homes, and the ironically-named "good" guy earns his name for being only slightly less vile than the other gunslingers.

But Leone's mixture of seemingly incompatible elements is what makes The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly so great. Not only does he combine a Cinemascope-era outlook with an eye for grittiness, but he mingles tasteful realism with a flamboyant, self-conscious style. Freeze frames, intertitles, and point-of-view shots brilliantly co-exist with the meticulously appointed period sets and sweeping frontier vistas. This fusion, in addition to a surplus of creativity and lack of restraint, makes the third in the so-called "man with no name" series the crowning glory of his career.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly doesn't seem to have enough plot to merit its three-hour running time. But Tuco and Blondie's betrayals and grudges, the secret that bonds them together and the race against Angel Eyes to find a pot of gold is only a canvas for Leone to detail his three principals.

Indeed, the world of GB&U totally revolves around the title characters. Secondary players are brushed aside as soon as their usefulness expires. Tuco, Blondie, and Angel Eyes exist on a plane of their own: Old West superheroes whose only challenges are their battles against each other. Eli Wallach's sweaty and savage Tuco is a welcomed counterpart to Eastwood's sassy but stoic Blondie. Lee Van Cleef looks like the fastest honor student in the West, trying to come off as a bad ass with tight outfits and prancing horse -- and somehow managing to do so. But his "good at math and science" approach to evil is no match for the wily ways of the other two, who manage to form a flimsy alliance to arrive at a deservedly famous final showdown in a Civil War tombstone amphitheater.

Leone is a master a milking tension from what would be, in the hands of a lesser director, throwaway establishing shots. The opening of a door, the meeting of strangers in the street, and the dimming of a lamp all manage to move the audience to the edge of their seats. The hard thing about The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is that the Leone charges those moments with his signature techniques: increasing close-ups, accelerating montages. These methods -- and Ennio Morricone's much-whistled coyote cry and surf guitar score-- were so successful that they have entered into the pantheon of cinematic cliché.

To the contemporary audience, the spiral whine of a ricocheting bullet, the squinty eyes, the stubby cigar in the side of the mouth are all icons that distract from the profound influence of this film. But the release of the special edition DVD provides an opportunity to revisit a worth and great film.

The newly remastered DVD is an absolute must-own. This two-disc set features 18 minutes of added footage, audio commentary by Richard Schickel, a number of making-of documentaries, and -- a really nifty addition -- a packet of reprinted international posters for the film. It's all packaged in a unique little box which includes a commemorative booklet as well.

Aka Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo.



Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Tuesday 9th October 2007

Box Office Worldwide: $6M

Budget: $1.2M

Production compaines: Constantin Film, United Artists, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Constantin Film Produktion, Produzioni Europee Associati (PEA)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Tuco, as Blondie, as Sentenza/Angel Eyes, Aldo Giuffrè as Alcoholic Union Captain, Luigi Pistilli as Father Pablo Ramirez, Rada Rassimov as Maria, John Bartha as Sheriff, Livio Lorenzon as Baker, Antonio Casale as Jackson/Bill Carson, Angelo Novi as Monk, José Terrón as Thomas 'Shorty' Larson (uncredited), Enzo Petito as Storekeeper, Claudio Scarchilli as Mexican Peon, Sandro Scarchilli as Mexican Peon, Benito Stefanelli as Member of Angel Eyes' Gange, Antonio Casas as Stevens, Aldo Sambrell as Member of Angel Eyes' Gang, Al Mulock as One-Armed Bounty Hunter, Sergio Mendizábal as Blonde Bounty Hunter, Antonio Molino Rojo as Capt. Harper, Lorenzo Robledo as Member of Angel Eyes' Gang, Mario Brega as Cpl. Wallace

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.