Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo
Review by David Carter
Posted on 11 July 2004
Most people only know The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for having one of the singularly greatest titles ever and for the Ennio Morricone music that pervades the film. This film is the final chapter of Leone and Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” trilogy. The first two chapters, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More are both good films in their own right and give the back story, but are not necessary viewing to enjoy this film.
Leone revived the western genre in the 1960’s. His films are call “spaghetti westerns” because despite being set in the Civil War Era western America, they are entirely filmed in Italy. This actually worked out greatly to the look of the films, because the Italian countryside greatly resembles the American West and most American-made Westerns were shot on soundstages.
Eastwood returns as “Blondie/Joe/the Man with No Name,” a man who despite generally being a “good-guy” only abides by the law when it suits his needs. He and Tuco (Wallach) have a good system for scamming towns out of money in the beginning of the film, but eventually run afoul of the law and each other. Blondie and Tuco are equally best friends and archrivals, and Leone plays out the conflict between them beautifully. Killer-for-hire “Angel Eyes” Setenza (Van Cleef) finds out about thousands of dollars in stolen gold buried somewhere under a grave from one of his victims. The paths of the three men cross, split and eventually come to mutual end over the course of the film. The Civil War plays a large part in the film, with Angel Eyes becoming a prison camp boss for the Union and Eastwood and Wallach helping the Confederacy blow a bridge.
All three men give top-notch performances. Wallach is especially good, giving what most consider his greatest performance. The director Leone is the star here however. The cinematography is breathtaking, the pacing magnificent, and the way the three men’s stories intertwine is pure genius. Leone was the first to take westerns above the “White Hats vs. the Black Hats,” and this trilogy was his first big success. If you’ve never seen or enjoyed a western before give this a look, you’ll be surprised. Check out the DVD for a restored quality of the film with the complete 181 minutes that Leone shot. If you like this film, check out the two prequels plus Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America, his foray into the gangster/mob movie genre.