Since I recently went through and deleted all of my original, rather embarrassing reviews (more on that here), this is technically the first review to be published on the 1960s page, and what a film to start with. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly follows the story of three men, Blondie (Clint Eastwood), Tuco (Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef). After Blondie betrays Tuco, Tuco insists on taking revenge, and he does this by forcing Blondie to trek through the desert without any access to water. It's here that they find a destroyed carriage with a dying man inside. This man, who can barely speak, lets Tuco know the location of buried gold; a cemetery. While Tuco is not looking, the dying man also lets Blondie know of which grave the gold is under. The two, who both despise each other, refuse to let the other one know the information they learnt, and because of this, they're forced to work together to locate the gold.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the western that defeats them all. It's the western that stands up above the rest, and it's also one of my all time favourite movies. It's the third and final film in the Man With No Name trilogy and while I have seen A Fistful of Dollars and For A Few Dollars More, this is the film that I truly, desperately, completely want to talk about. This film is just the ultimate western, right up there alongside The Searchers, which is another film I love to pieces.
So where does Angel Eyes, AKA the bad, come into it, you ask? Well, the plot I gave isn't necessarily the greatest description of this movie, but it'll have to do. While the above poster and below trailer may do a poor job at conveying who's who, Clint Eastwood does in fact play the good, Eli Wallach the ugly and Lee Van Cleef the bad. It's a film about all three characters, but it's really just the good and the ugly who take centre stage. The bad is there too, sure, and he plays a pivotal role, definitely, but his presence is scarce in the film's first half, hence the reason he's only mentioned in my plot description in brief.
However, the film's three leads all give such immaculate performances. Honest to god, I've seen a lot of great performances in westerns, but I've never seen performances as flawless as the ones in this movie. Clint Eastwood is just in his prime, giving the performance of a lifetime. His character always feels confident and relaxed, but with a dark sense of humour to him as well. And that's the thing about this film too, it's rather funny. The leads play off of each other, providing the audience with some much needed humour in this bland and desolate world.
Chiming in just a few minutes shy of three hours, there's never once an unneeded or tedious moment. There are multiple cuts of this film to be found, some exceeding three hours, some clocking in just over two. The first time I watched this movie, I saw the two hours and forty minute cut. The second time, however, I watched the full three hour cut and it is rather masterful. The more the merrier, so the saying goes. The longer this film is, the better is somehow becomes. There's not a moment of boredom in this film's entire runtime, which is something quite rare in three hour long movies.
Sergio Leone returns to the director's chair to successfully conclude his timeless trilogy. The first two films in this trilogy are excellent, but it's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly that slots in as the best. It takes what makes the first two films so amazing and then injects it with adrenaline, resulting in a film with practically no flaws. Leone's directing is spot on, getting both terrific performances out of his cast and amazing camera shots as we venture through the wild wild west.
There are many films that come to mind when I think of "the greatest score of all time." Films like Jurassic Park, Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey etc. I'm not saying that The Good, The Bad and The Ugly has the single greatest score ever made, but it undeniably comes close. The score is just so wild and haunting, providing a gritty, yet exciting feel to every scenario. The score for this film helps to make it what it is, and thanks to this, I truly cannot give enough praise to this movie. It's not just a classic. This film is much more than just a classic.
To sum up, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is the ultimate western. It takes everything that was amazing about the first two films in the trilogy and adds a little adrenaline, resulting in one of the greatest and most influential movies of all time.