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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly


An all time film classic from 1966, Sergio Leone's legendary spaghetti western THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY is arguably Leone's masterpiece.

The third western that Clint Eastwood made in Italy with the director after "A Fistful of Dollars" and "A Few Dollars More", its a three hour tale told on a huge scale.

Eastwood is Blondie (The Good), a sharpshooter with an ongoing bounty hunter scheme. He's partnered with Tuco, played by Eli Wallach in one of his best performances (The Ugly).

They soon match wits with Angel Eyes (The Bad) a lethal black hat in quest of $200k in gold. Lee Van Cleef (Escape From New York) almost out squints Clint as Angel Eyes, its a fun performance.

The three men soon find themselves on a quest for that $200k in gold. One of them knows the name of the cemetery it's buried in, one knows the name on the grave and the other has the power to get that information.

Leone stages some of the best widescreen moments in film history. His opening scene is reminiscent of 'Lawrence of Arabia" as figures on horseback a long way off on the horizon merge into frame for some violent payoff. Tarantino paid homage to many of Leone's framing techniques and angles with his Western "The Hateful Eight".

You also see strong echoes of Tarantino's hero Rick Dalton and his ties to Eastwood in his masterpiece "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood".

Leone stages intimate face offs as his camera zooms closer and closer to the faces of his adversaries, flashing to their hands hovering above their holsters as gunfights stretch for impossibly long minutes.

Everyone seems wrapped in sweat, sweltering heat and flies as cannons boom, bullets fly and loyalties shift.

The last hour finds Eastwood and Wallach immersed in the middle of a massive Civil War battle. The bridge explosion at its climax rivals Lean's "Bridge on the River Kwai" for explosive firepower. No digital effects here kids, this is all done full size. Watch how close some of the bridge shrapnel comes to the Eastwood. That's a fist size rock that lands less than two feet from his head. It's a wow.

When filming, a production assistant mistakenly gave the order to blow up the bridge and they did, with NO cameras rolling! The Spanish army completely rebuilt the bridge and they shot the scene again!

Composer Ennio Morricone wraps the whole massive movie in an eccentric, crazy music score that became part of pop culture immediately in the sixties and still echoes to today. The soundtrack album stayed on the charts for over a year. It's fantastic.

Watching the restored, 2 hour and 58 minute version, you see just how many modern films have paid tribute to Leone's original, including one of my all time favorite westerns, Lawrence Kasdan's "Silverado" in 1985.

Eastwood is flawless saying little and Wallach never stops talking, he's great. His improvised line "When you have to shoot, shoot! Don't talk" is one of the best of the film. His moment chained to a man on the railroad tracks as a steam engine motors by to cut the chain is insane and shot full scale.

Long, funny, violent, exciting, THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY is still a great movie experience, nearly 50 years after its release.

It gets an A+ and a firm place in my all-time top 100.

"Were you going to die alone?"

Perfection.

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