The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) – REVIEW

by Jordache Wee

Original Italian Title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo
Release Date: December 15, 1966
Directed by: Sergio Leone
Music by: Ennio Morricone
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach

Italian Director Sergio Leone who is famous for spaghetti western films returns to give us one final piece to The Dollar Trilogy.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a 1966 spaghetti film starring famous actors Clint Eastwood, the late Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. Ennio Morricone is a frequent score composer for Leone’s film.

Blondie “the Good” (Clint Eastwood)

In a desolate ghost town, bandit Tuco (“The Ugly,” Eli Wallach) narrowly shoots his way past three bounty hunters to freedom. Miles away, Angel Eyes (“The Bad,” Lee Van Cleef) interrogates a former soldier Stevens (Antonio Casas) about a missing man named Bill Carson (Antonio Casale) and a cache of Confederate gold, shooting the soldier and his son (Antonio Ruiz) after the interrogation; Angel Eyes also collects a bounty given to him by the soldier Stevens to kill Angel Eyes’ employer; Angel Eyes then collects his bounty for the killing from his employer and then shoots him.

Meanwhile, Tuco’s journey across the desert leads him into a group of bounty hunters, who prepare to capture him when they are approached by Blondie (“The Good,” Clint Eastwood), a mysterious lone gunman who challenges the hunters to a draw, which he wins with lightning speed.

Initially elated, Tuco is enraged when Blondie delivers him to the local authorities for the reward money. Hours later, as Tuco awaits his execution, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco, the two later meeting to split the reward money, revealing their lucrative money-making scheme. The two repeat the process at another town before Blondie, weary of Tuco’s incessant complaints, abandons him in the desert.

A livid Tuco rearms himself in a nearby town and surprises Blondie in his hotel room. As Tuco prepares to kill Blondie by fashioning a noose and forcing Blondie to put it around his neck, a cannonball demolishes the room, allowing Blondie to escape.

Angel Eyes “the Bad” (the late Lee Van Cleef)

Following a relentless search, Tuco ambushes Blondie and marches him across the harsh desert.

As Blondie collapses from dehydration, Tuco prepares to kill him when a runaway carriage appears on the horizon. Inside, Tuco discovers a dying Bill Carson, who reveals that Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sand Hill cemetery but falls unconscious before naming the grave.

When Tuco returns with water, he discovers Carson dead and Blondie slumped against the carriage. As he passes out, Blondie says that he knows the name on the grave. Tuco takes Blondie, both disguised as Confederate soldiers, to a Catholic mission, allowing Blondie time to recover before the two leave, still disguised as Confederate soldiers.

They inadvertently encounter a force of Union soldiers, who capture and march them to a Union prison camp.

Tuco “the Ugly” (Eli Wallach)

At the camp, Corporal Wallace (Mario Brega) begins a roll call, and Tuco answers for Bill Carson, catching the attention of Angel Eyes, a Union Sergeant (Lee Van Cleef) stationed at the camp. Angel Eyes has Wallace torture Tuco into revealing Sand Hill Cemetery, but confesses that only Blondie knows the name on the grave.

Angel Eyes offers Blondie an equal partnership in recovering the gold. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his posse while Tuco, being transported by train to his execution, escapes from his captors. Blondie and Angel Eyes and his posse stop at a war-ravaged town to rest. Across town, Tuco aimlessly wanders through the wreckage, oblivious to the bounty hunter that survived in the beginning of the movie (Al Mulock), who tracks and ambushes Tuco.

Despite the surprise, Tuco kills the bounty hunter. Blondie leaves to investigate the gunshot, finding Tuco and informing him of Angel Eyes’s involvement. The two resume their old partnership, skulking through the wrecked town and killing Angel Eyes’ henchmen before discovering that Angel Eyes has escaped.

Tuco and Blondie locate Sand Hill Cemetery where they discover a great battle brewing between large Union and Confederate forces, separated only by a narrow bridge.

Eager to disperse the standing armies, Blondie and Tuco wire the bridge with dynamite. During the process, the two trade information, with Tuco revealing Sand Hill Cemetery and Blondie saying that the name on the grave is Arch Stanton. The two detonate the bridge and take cover as the two armies angrily resume their battle.

The next morning, the Confederate and Union soldiers have moved on. Tuco abandons Blondie to retrieve the gold for himself and stumbles upon the sprawling Sand Hill Cemetery.

Frantically searching the sea of makeshift tombstones, Tuco finally locates Arch Stanton’s grave. As he digs, Blondie appears and offers him a shovel. Moments later, the two are ambushed by Angel Eyes, who holds them at gunpoint. Blondie kicks open Stanton’s grave to reveal only a skeleton.

Declaring that only he knows the real name of the grave, Blondie writes it on a rock in the middle of the graveyard and tells Tuco and Angel Eyes that “Two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We’re going to have to earn it.”

The trio eyes at the Sad Hill cemetery

The three stare each other down, calculating alliances and dangers in a famous five-minute Mexican standoff before suddenly drawing. Blondie shoots Angel Eyes, rolling him into an open grave, while Tuco discovers that Blondie unloaded his gun the night before.

Blondie directs Tuco to the grave marked “Unknown” next to Arch Stanton’s. Tuco digs and is overjoyed to find bags of gold inside, but is shocked when he turns to Blondie and finds himself staring at a noose.

Seeking a measure of revenge for what Tuco has done to him, Blondie forces Tuco atop a grave marker and wraps the noose around his neck, binding Tuco’s hands before disappearing with his share of the gold.

As Tuco screams for mercy, Blondie’s silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle at Tuco. As Tuco screams in rage, Blondie fires and severs the noose rope, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold. Blondie smiles as Tuco screams at him. Blondie turns and rides into the frontier.

Reviewer’s Notes:
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the third and final collection to The Dollar Trilogy – with Leone setting the same theme in a different story plot. This is one of finest masterpiece Leone ever made for spaghetti western films.

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