The Good, the Bad and the Ugly ★★★★★

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Being the finale of the Dollars Trilogy, the trilogy which only gets better and better with each entry, it's unsurprising that G/B/U is the best of the bunch. There's a reason people talk and sing the praises of this western more than possibly any other in existence. It's a sprawling, ambitious, three-hour epic in every sense of the word. Despite its runtime, the film is without a dull moment. Honestly, this could've been a Sátántangó-sized seven hour epic and I would not have minded at all, given it retains the same quality that it has right now.

This is my first rewatch of the film in around five or so years, so I went in knowing how the general gist of how the plot was going down and some iconic moments here and there, but to my surprise there was a lot I forgot. This helped a lot in making this watch familiar yet fresh. For instance, I had no memory at all of the Civil War battle sequence in the last hour of the film. It blew my mind, that sequence is just an awe-inspiring sight to behold. The amount of extras, the choreography, the practical effects. It perfectly encapsulated the feeling of being in a bloody, brutal battle (not that I've been in one). By the way, the budget for this movie is only 1.2 million dollars. Sure, that's 1966 money, but even in 2018 that equates to roughly 7.7 million dollars. That's absolutely insane, given the scope, ambition, and sheer scale of the film. Sergio Leone proves he is an absolute master of his craft here.

I mentioned in my For a Few Dollars More review how the trio of great characters in that film elevated it from good to great, and it seems like Sergio Leone, the smart fella he is, knew that as well. In this one the entire focus is on a trio of characters (I mean, just look at that title), and here it works wonders. Blondie is an insanely likable, clever little smart ass who Eastwood was just born to play. Same goes for Angel Eyes and Tuco, the latter of which deserves special props. For being such a conniving, dastardly, and down-right evil guy, it's hard not to love Tuco. Eli Wallach plays him in such a diabolically cheeky way, I love it. All three of these characters carry the film into the stuff of legend.

I don't even need to mention Ennio Morricone's score. It's one of the greatest film scores of all time, and you already know that. What does need mentioning is the film's new underlying sadness, which can be seen through some of its tracks. Most notably of which is "The Story of a Soldier", which is just melancholic enough without being overly-sappy. With The Civil War being featured as the film's backdrop, this new theme fits very well. There are two scenes that come to mind that are equal parts heart-wrenching and heart-warming. The big battle near the end where it's just a non-stop, seemingly never-ending showcase of the carnage of the Civil War. As Blondie himself put it "I've never seen so many men wasted so badly". The second scene that shows the new underlying heart of the movie is when Blondie, so close to reaching his goal, takes a minute to give a dying Confederate soldier some comfort in his final moments. A nice warm coat and a couple puffs a smoke between two human beings is the kind of tender moment that was missing from the previous two films in the Dollars trilogy, and westerns in general.

My only negative with this film is that Angel Eyes does not appear as much as I would've liked, he's definitely the least prominent of the main trio. Even then, that's not to say he doesn't have a meaty chunk of screen-time in this, either. It's just that I wanted more. And is it such a bad thing when your only negative in a movie is that you wanted more? Some might point out the obvious technical limitations that come from being made in 1966 and originally releasing in Italian. The sound design and ADR in particular is rough, but not enough to detract from the experience, I think. It's something you need to accept, with the film being a spaghetti western. I understand how it could impact the film for some, but if anything I found it to be a little bit charming.

There's not much more to say. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is already considered to be a classic and one of the greatest westerns out there, and most people agree with that. If you haven't seen this film, do so ASAP. Don't let the daunting run time or minor technical imperfections scare you away.

It's one of the greats.

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