Monday, June 1, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

At last, here comes the review of one of the most appreciated Westerns of all time. Forget history while you're watching this film! Instead, admire Sergio Leone's skill to craft a story with simple characters and to capture sceneries with the eyes of an artist. Moreover, this goes without saying that the three leading actors of the film, with their performance, built the most memorable characters of the Western genre. All in all, after seeing this, one almost feels the envy to qualify The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as a literally perfect film.


During the American Civil War, Angel Eyes (Lee Van Clef) is tracking down a confederate soldier named Bill Carson. During his mission, he learns from a man who once served with Carson that a handful of bags of gold were hidden somewhere. In the desert, Tuco (Eli Wallach) drags Blondie (Clint Eastwood) at gunpoint in the desert. However, both of them end up coming across an agonizing Bill Carson in the desert. Tuco learns that the treasure is hidden in Sad Hill Cemetery. Since Carson seems to be unconscious, Tuco is gone getting some water. As Tuco returns, he now finds Blondie next to Carson and with the knowledge of the gold's exact location within the cemetery, which means under that famous grave. Since Blondie doesn't want to reveal the exact location of the gold, Tuco and him must form an uneasy alliance against Angel Eyes and get to the Sad Hill Cemetery before Angel Eyes does.

While you watch this film, just think that the film doesn't have the slightest pretension to talk about history like The Telegraph Trail, which was anyway produced at a time when racism toward Native North Americans was okay. While Leone's classic knows how to stay faithful to history through some details (e.g.: costumes, guns, etc.), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a Western that unashamedly displays itself as a movie made for entertainment. Nothing less. Nothing more. Of course, one might have the feeling that nothing is happening at the beginning. Nonetheless, in spite of the film's length, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly progresses without difficulty toward its unpredictable end.

Besides, with such a choice, Leone came up with one of the best scripts in the Western repertoire. In fact, the film relatively leaves aside history to focus on the director's very goal, which was to show how the aim for fortune (a mentality inherent in the conquest of the West in the USA and also Canada) shape three men's psyche. Even though the leading characters look simple on the surface, Leone depicts men who sometimes have to make hard choices to satisfy their interest with shades of grey that you don't necessarily see coming. For instance, while he doesn't know the grave that hides the gold, Tuco decides, out of realism, to keep Blondie (who knows the answer) alive. Needless to say that the three leading actors really own the film. While Eli Wallach adds some humour to the film, Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Clef bring some toughness that would make Chow Yun-Fat's characters (in films made by John Woo) look like pussies.

Finally, if you're a fan of Westerns, watch this film! It's definitely a classic that every Western fans should see! It's the film that make Sergio Leone one of the most cited movie directors from the last century. Moreover, with this film, Clint Eastwood went on to build a brilliant career, Lee Van Clef redefined the way to play a tough guy and Eli Wallach proved that you don't have to be a star to achieve immortality in the collective conscience of cinephiles.

Rating: 5/5



Origin:Italy (1966)
Length:179 minutes
Genre:Western
Screenplay:Agenore Incrocci, Furio Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Leone
Director:Sergio Leone
Starring:Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Clef and Eli Wallach


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