Good, the Bad & the Ugly, The

Sergio Leone

9/10 (cheese)

This is arguably the best western ever (Leone’s own “Once Upon a Time in the West” being its chief competition), and thus a must-see for any fan of the genre. It is really a must-see for any movie fans, just to have a sense of history, to give your epic film knowledge a larger context, and to witness one of the all-time best bad-asses in Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name.

This is the closing of Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy starring Clint Eastwood (1964’s “A Fistful of Dollars” and 1965’s “For a Few Dollars More” being the first two), and the story really isn’t all that important. Three men — Eastwood’s “good,” more-or-less morally upright bounty hunter, Eli Wallach’s “ugly” clown of a bandit, and Lee Van Cleef’s “bad” sociopath — hunt for buried treasure. But it’s like a buy-one-get-one-free film because you’re not only getting a western but also a Civil War epic. It also happens to have one of the most famous and influential scores ever, composed by longtime Leone collaborator Enrico Morricone.

Sure it’s long, but such is the plight of epics. It’s got enough action and humor to keep you going for the most part. The only thing I don’t like is that it gets campy at times, but with Leone’s uber-heavy direction feels pretentious. It’s also ridiculously violent, contributing heavily to the romanticism of violence that Eastwood would later rebel against in his modern classic “Unforgiven.” Leone claims that he was satirizing such violence, but I don’t believe him.

Bottom line: the movie is a goddamn classic, see it already!

24 March 2010

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