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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Director: Sergio Leone
Cast overview: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach
Running time: 161 minutes

Sergio Leone's finale to the Spaghetti Western trilogy is perhaps the greatest, and certainly the grandest, of the three. It's certainly the one with the most well-woven plot, in my view, starring as it does Eastwood and Wallach as two men who are joined together in a bounty-hunting scam to find gold buried in a cemetery, pitted against Lee Van Cleef's excellent Sentenza / Angel Eyes character. It's a wonderfully sprawling western, far removed from some of the more unoriginal, uninspired efforts that one may think of when they think of the western genre.

Morricone's score is the best he ever composed - it's ridiculous how damn good it is, frankly. The climactic gunfight at the end of the film would have been a cracking scene regardless, but it's one of the most iconic in cinema thanks to Morricone's terrific, pounding and melodic score. His soundtracks for the previous two in the trilogy were great; here he excels even his usual high standards. Wonderful.

The film is long, yes, but it doesn't at all feel like its almost-three-hour running time, with each scene flowing perfectly and smoothly into the next, and the characters being developed on so appropriately that you actually feel like you're there with them, riding through the barren landscapes and deserts. Part of the intimacy is created by the terrific direction and cinematography, not to mention the evocative locations.

All three main actors are brilliant, though I think Van Cleef steals the show. His character is cold-hearted, sinister, yet also has a silent charm. Eli Wallach is great as Tuco, injecting the film with both humour and personality. And Eastwood, as our "hero", so to speak, does what he does best - he was the king of cool in this film, no doubt.

Overall, this is a fantastic film, one of the best ever, almost certainly the best western ever, and a film that covers the gamut of emotion and feeling, from sadness and pain to wit, and from that to violence and evil. There are no black-and-white characters - you're not sure whether to feel on the side of one character or against another, but one thing you are sure of is that this is a well-made, engrossing film.

Blondie: You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

[Tuco is in a bubble bath. The One Armed Man enters the room]
One Armed Man: I've been looking for you for 8 months. Whenever I should have had a gun in my right hand, I thought of you. Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me. I had lots of time to learn to shoot with my left.
[Tuco kills him with the gun he has hidden in the foam]
Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk.

[to Tuco]
Blondie: Tut, tut. Such ingratitude after all the times I saved your life.

In addition to the train scene, Eli Wallach cheated death in the first scene where Blondie shoots him down from a hanging. The gunshot scared the horse, which took off running at full speed for nearly a mile. Wallach's hands were tied behind his back, and he had to hang for dear life with his knees.

In the gun store, everything Eli Wallach does with the guns is completely unscripted. Eli knew little about the guns, so he was instructed to do whatever he wanted.

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