Thursday, September 19, 2013


The Great American Western (Though sometimes they make 'em in Italy) (Post 8 of 12)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

When I was growing up, it seemed the term "spaghetti western" was used rather derisively. The three movies in the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood dollars trilogy (Which is probably what most of us think of when we think of the term spaghetti western) were all hits in Europe when they were first released and later were hits in the United States. They weren't, however, an initial hit with critics. New York Times reviewer Renata Adler famously said about this film that...

Anyone who would voluntarily remain in the theater to see this movie in its entirety is not someone I should want to meet in any capacity ever!

But time has certainly been kind to the reputation of this film. Check out and you'll see how the critical opinion has gone from "love it or hate it" in the 60's to mostly "love it."

Well, I'm a certainly a Leone fan, but let me just see if I can pick out...

Ten memorable moments from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

10. Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes quietly sits down and has a meal with a family that he is about to gun down.

9. For some reason I love the scene where the soldier with no legs gives Angel Eyes information, Angel Eyes eyes gives him some coin and the "half soldier" happily goes into a bar and orders a whiskey.

8. Any time Clint Eastwood (as Blondie) shoots someone's hat off,

7. Eli Wallach (as Tuco) takes Blondie out into the desert to slowly kill him.

6. Tuco's verbal confrontation with his religious brother tells us all we really need to know about Tuco's background.

5. When Tuco and Blondie blow up the bridge dividing the battling armies it's pretty cool as well as an important plot device.

4. Tuco's in the gun store is funny, and despite his brashness you somehow root for him.

3. Blondie offering a dying soldier a smoke and a wrap is an unusually poignant moment.

2. So is the band in the prison camp playing while Angel Eyes has Tuco beaten up.

and the number one moment from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the three way gun duel at then end...and the part right before...and the part after. I could almost do a top ten list of memorable moments from the final duel scene alone, but the whole final scene is a helluva finale to one great horse opera.

So that's the good. So what's the bad?

Well, it really does tend to stretch the imagination that these three characters seem to keep running into each other throughout the film, even if they are trying to get to the same place. But I'm willing to overlook it. Poetic license if you will.

And the ugly...
There are basically no women in this movie! The only woman I can think of with any lines here is Bill Carson's girlfriend, who mostly gets slapped around by Angel Eyes in her one scene. However, one of the end credits could read that Sergio Leone will compensate for his lack of women in this movie with the appearance of Claudia Cardinale in Once Upon a Time in the West!

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