#4: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

The first hour or so of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western movie was so confusing for me. I didn’t know who anyone was, what their intentions were, where any of these things were taking place, and especially, why the movements of their mouths in no way corresponded with their speech. But that’s not to say that it wasn’t fun. It might have taken me a while to get into the swing of things, but  I still enjoyed the learning process.
Clint Eastwood stars in what was the third part of Leone’s Dollars trilogy, along with Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. They are the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, respectively, and all deadly gunslingers. Eastwood is the Man with No Name, or “Blondie” as the Bandit Tuco (Wallach) calls him. They strike up an unlikely partnership in a bid to hunt down a fortune in Confederate gold during the American Civil War. Hampering this quest, however, is “Angel Eyes”, the unambiguous baddie of the story who wants that gold for himself, by any means necessary.
It’s not just the beginning that’s confusing though. While the sets are massive and impressive they don’t make much sense geographically. Sure it’s great to see the characters riding off into the distance, but after a while this does become fairly tiresome. OK - the West is a big place. We get it. Still, you don’t always need fully-exposited continuity to enjoy the film. A full-scale bridge explodes on screen - it was such a huge explosion that it destroyed all three cameras and had to be built again. Now that is entertainment.
Also confusing, the idea that Blondie is good is entirely nonsensical to me. He buddies up with a raping murderer, or a murdering rapist. Either way isn’t great. We hear Tuco’s rap sheet, and it’s not endearing. What’s more, Blondie steals ransom money from law enforcers, and happily kills men he has never talked to - how does he know they deserve to die? That last point might sound ridiculous, but it’s a good scruple observed by most good men I know.

Multiple tea breaks were called to get through this epic movie, not to mention a good stretch every hour or so. But that’s not to say it’s an ordeal. I enjoyed myself, thoroughly (aside from getting angry about Tuco’s sympathetic portrayal when he’s clearly a scumbag) and this is a recommendation from me. Well, it’s just one of those films you have to watch, at some point. Just get a good sofa butt-groove going first. 


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