THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
moment where Sergio Leone turned from "talented novice" to "important
new director", albeit one who would only make two more major films in
his career. There are levels of visual poetry and thematic depth in THE
GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY only hinted at in Leone's previous two
A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE.
For one example, there is Eli Wallach's race through a cemetery to find
the grave in which a fortune has been hidden, an increasingly frantic
scene which eventually feels like a race against death thanks to
Leone's editing and camera. The entire civil war battle scene
near the end of the film is a textbook model of how to set up, build
and sustain lengthy film sequences. A deftly edited
featuring only cannons is a visual highlight.
Eastwood returns as
"The Man with No Name" (The Good) and Lee Van Cleef plays a ruthless
gun for hire (The Bad), it is Eli Wallach's film all the way as Tuco
(The Ugly), a lowlife bandit whose loyalties to the two other
characters depends on which one he thinks will get him closer to the
gold he is searching for. Hilarious,
dangerous, and at times touching, Wallach walks away with the film,
leaving Eastwood and Cleef in the dust, metaphorically speaking.
Unlike FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY never lags, even at a three-hour running time. Scenes tend to go on at length, but they do so in ways which reveal character or build atmosphere. The film is greatly is greatly enhanced by Ennio Morricone's classic score which includes the famous over-the-top theme music ("ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo - wah WAH waaah") that perfectly captures the epic, operatic nature of the film. A classic then, and a classic now. ½ - JB
ADD ANOTHER QUOTE AND MAKE IT A GALLON
"Who the hell is this? One bastard goes in, another one comes out!"