Pros:Stellar acting, great plot, artistically done, exciting, stands up to repeated viewing
Cons:You might spend the rest of your life doing nothing but watching this movie
The Bottom Line: The greatest movie ever made.
In my humble opinion, and it is, indeed, humble, Sergio Leone's The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the greatest movie ever made. The first time you watch it, if you watch for about ten minutes, you'll get so engrossed you won't want to stop until the end. And then you'll watch it time and time again, trying to pick up more and more. I've seen it quite literally dozens of times, and I keep going back because it still holds me enthralled.
Recommend this product?
GBU's strength comes from the simplicity of it's plot. There are three men who have no loyalties to each other, and all three are searching for a big treasure. This serves only as the backbone of the story, though, because into this simple plot is woven dozens of intricate threads and sub-plots on the evils of war, the nature of family, religion, crime, and humanity. But I don't want to throw you off into thinking only a Stanford professor could understand it. GBU is an exciting and gripping movie that moves forward like a steamroller: slowly, but with incredible force.
If you're looking for the average Western, you won't find it here. Most Westerns are built along the same childish lines: one good guy, one bad guy, and a final climactic showdown. GBU, however, takes a more realistic approach. Not only are people good and bad, but there are also gray areas (hence the title). And none of the main characters are quite what the title makes them out to be. The Good, Blondie (played in his normal Man-With-No-Name mindset by Clint Eastwood) is only good compared to his enemies; he has humanity, but he also kills more people than anyone else in the movie. The Bad, Angel Eyes, (played with penetrating malice by Lee van Cleef) is at least as bad of a man as the other two, but he's more determined, more of a loner, and more like a childish bully than anything else. And the Ugly, Tuco Benedito Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (played in the best role of his life by one of the best actors ever, Eli Wallach) is such a hilarious buffoon that you can't help but love him, even when you hear his rap sheet listing all the times he's raped and killed and robbed.
So pit these three men against each other and what do you get? Shootouts, hangings, beatings, bounties, and enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. But, keep in mind, that all of this is taking place during the Civil War. At first, the big three are so obsessed with their gold that the war doesn't concern them. But gradually their petty rivalries are shown to be exactly what they are, petty, as the war begins to invade and shape all three of their lives. In a Federal prisoner of war camp Angel Eyes shows all badness, robbing a Confederate stage coach Tuco shows his ugliness, and in comforting dying soldiers of both sides, Blondie shows his goodness.
All of this tension, all of this madness, leads up in a fevered pitch to the climax of the movie: all three players, the three finest gunslingers in the world, in the center of a graveyard in the only three-way showdown in Western history. To the victor goes the money.
You could watch the movie a dozen times and not catch everything there is to catch. But you could also watch it once and be dazzled. As I said, no one can stop watching it once they've started. And that is why I regard The Good (bah na na na naa) The Bad (duh nu nu nu nu) and the Ugly (wah wa wa wa wow) as the greatest movie ever made.
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