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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (DVD, 2009, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition)
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Three Way Showdown: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
May 14, 2002 (Updated May 14, 2002)
Review by George Chabot
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Wallach, Eastwood, Van Cleef, Direction, Score
The Bottom Line: Stylish western that must be seen. This is the best of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns.
"In this world there are two kinds of men, those who have loaded guns and those who dig. You dig." Blondie, "The Good"
Recommend this product?
"When I'm paid, I always follow my job through. You know that." Angel Eyes, "The Bad"
"When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, "The Ugly"
[About the foul cigarillos] "When I had to be in an unpleasant frame of mind, I took a couple of draws and, boy, I was right there." Clint Eastwood
TV personality Clint Eastwood packed up his cowboy gear, gun belt, and Colt 45 and traveled to Europe to make modern westerns with gifted director Sergio Leone. The result was the "Dollars Trilogy" of which The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is the final and finest episode. When the movies hit the theaters in the states, Clint was an instant sensation and since has become a Hollywood star of the first magnitude.
Many of us have seen these spaghetti westerns in the seemingly endless "Clint Eastwood Festivals" at the local drive-in or in the butchered versions aired on network television, however, such a fine movie as this deserves to be seen uninterrupted in its entirety. And now that is possible. MGM has released the widescreen version of the classic western in all its 161-minute digital glory.
The story is one of greed; all three characters are involved in making money the easiest way they can, either defrauding the taxpayers or performing murders for hire. Tuco and Blondie are already partnered up collecting the ever-increasing bounties posted for Tuco's capture and conviction. Blondie always manages to cut the hangman's rope before Tuco pays the ultimate price, whereupon the cycle is repeated in the next town where Blondie turns him in for the next reward. Angel Eyes is a cold-blooded killer for hire who specializes in the double cross - killing his employer as well as the victim. All three characters get wind of a lost army payroll: $200,000 in gold buried somewhere…
Clint Eastwood is Blondie or The Man With No Name, if you prefer. Carrying the same persona established in the first two films even though the film was set some years before in the US Civil War era. Clint even donned his familiar brownish-green poncho for the famous showdown scene. An earlier scene shows his famed cobra handled Colt, also tying the "Dollars" films together.
Lee Van Cleef is Angel Eyes "The Bad" the cold-blooded killer and he never deviates from the archetype. It is probably the pinnacle role of his career spent mostly as a subordinate bandito in myriad Hollywood westerns.
Eli Wallach is Tuco, "The Ugly" in a post graduate role as bandito. Wallach, you will remember, starred in one of the very first spaghetti westerns 1960's The Magnificent Seven opposite good guy Yul Brynner. Tuco is the most interesting character in the film and probably Wallach's finest performance. While no mean hand with a six-shooter himself, bandito Tuco adds considerable comic relief with his wild statements and continual crossing himself Catholicism. Tuco adds the dash of salt that makes a tasty stew of the black and white characters portrayed by Eastwood and Van Cleef.
Director Sergio Leone infuses his West with considerable style with panoramic shots juxtaposed with paranoically oppressive close-ups, his camera darting from face to face compelling the viewers' attention. The movie's unhurried stately pace never plods - it is always heading somewhere. The camera work is impeccable. The sets are a little shoddy, it's true, but Leone's probing camera never dwells on the unimportant, therefore the low bucks scenery is soon forgotten. The sparse dialog, suggested by Eastwood, helps to underscore the titanic gravity of the three characters - each one has become an icon in the Hollywood firmament. Not enough can be said about the score, which builds and builds tension until the viewer is at a fever pitch. Composer Ennio Morricone may have done better, but never more familiar work than this.
The MGM DVD is presented in 2.35: 1 widescreen. It is well preserved but with a few faded passages. The soundtrack is very good with better sound than most of the American dubbed versions I have seen. The abundant gunfire sounds crisp and harsh rather than the tinny Mattel toy sounds I expected from earlier viewings.
As a bonus, the DVD includes several scenes deleted before the international version was finalized. As such the scenes are in the original Italian, not dubbed in English. The scenes, running about 14 minutes total, were wisely deleted from the almost 3 hour running time of the film but they are interesting to see and have been unavailable up to now. The theatrical trailer is included and interestingly reverses the names of Wallach's and Van Cleef's characters. Perhaps it is fitting as hawk-nosed Van Cleef is one of the butt-ugliest characters ever to grace the silver screen in my humble opinion.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is a film every movie lover will want to see and own. It is available for about $10.00 in stores so don't hesitate. This is a five-star film!
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