The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966): Sergio Leone's Epic Tale of Greed and Betrayal

By Murtaza Ali

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews   

Our Rating: 10.0
IMDb Ratings: 9.0
Genre: Adventure | Western
CastClint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef
Country: Italy | Spain | West Germany
Language: Italian
Runtime: 161 min
Color: Color (Technicolor)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is a Spaghetti Western movie directed by Italian auteur Sergio Leone. In the glamorous world of cinema that rides high on its structural inertia it seldom happens that a mere whim not only challenges the status quo, but also succeeds in subverting the paradigm. Incredibly, that's precisely what Sergio Leone single-handedly accomplished with his Dollar's Trilogy comprising A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966). Leone changed the very face of the American Old Westdriven by the tenets of pride, honor, chivalry and machismopreached and propagated by the likes of Ford, Hawks and Wayne by limning a far more Brutal and Real picture of the West where greed and lust reigned supreme, and where things transcended the stereotypical demarcations of Black, White, Virtue and Vice. 

clint eastwood in the good the bad and the ugly
Clint Eastwood in his 'Man With No Name' avatar
Leone became an instant global success with A Fistful of Dollars, and with each new installment of the Dollars Trilogy Leone's stature grew exponentially making him a movie icon and his 'Man With No Name' (The Mysterious Gunslinger played  by Clint Eastwood in all the three installments) a Legend.  Initially used in a derogatory connotation, the term 'Spaghetti Western' soon became a substitute for Italo-Western before getting widely accepted as a sub-genre of Western films. Leone's peculiar style also inspired a hybrid stream in Western film-making—an intermediate between the old Western genre and Leone's Spaghetti Westernbest exemplified by Sam Peckinpah's Classic Anti-Western The Wild Bunch (1969), and decades later by Clint Eastwood's Western Masterpiece Unforgiven (1992)The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the third and final installment of Leone's Dollars Trilogy that unarguably also happens to be the best of the series. In fact, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is widely regarded as the best Western movie of all time. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly presents an Epic tale of Greed and Betrayal revolving around the lives of three brutestwo Outlaws and a Bounty Hunterset against the backdrop of the American Civil War.

lee van cleef in the good the bad and the ugly
Lee Van Cleef in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly's bizarre setup—a mishmash of contradicting themes and scenariosand peculiar plot makes its remarkably singular. The actors in the title roles live their parts to such supreme levels of perfection that to merely term their performances as acting would sound both disparaging as well as impertinent. In fact, their brilliant portrayals helped immortalize Blondie, Angel Eyes and the enigmatic Tuco. Lee Van Cleef, in arguably his best performance ever, is ruthlessly unforgiving as the fiendish Angel Eyes, whose steely gaze betrays a sense of Seraphic radiance befitting his name. Clint Eastwood, in his trademark portrayal of 'Man With No Name', is rugged, suave, cocky yet adorable as the laconic cigar-smoker Blondiea role that laid the foundations of his illustrious career. 

eli wallach as tuco in the good the bad and the ugly
Eli Wallach as Tuco in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
sergio leone's the good the bad and the ugly
Truel Sequence from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly 
But, it is Eli Wallach who steals the show with his captivating portrayal of Tuco, a portrayal that is as entrancing as it is enlightening. Wallach is enigmatic, capricious, nonchalant, uncanny yet tenacious as Tuco—a man perturbed by his insecurities and dampened by his solitude. Tuco does indeed represent the 'Ugly' side of humanity. It is the great Chemistry between Eastwood, Wallach and Van Cleef that gives the story the impetus, and the characters a screen presence that is both nonpareil and awe-inspiring. The movie's highly tensed finale features a breathtaking Truel sequencea gunfight between three individuals—that not only elevates Cinema to heights of unparalleled glory, but also demonstrates and testifies Cinema's true power and purpose. The tension-packed scenethe Showdown and the ensuing climaxundoubtedly features amongst the best sequences ever filmed in the history of Cinema. On a personal account, I would like to share with the readers that  every now and then I take out time to watch the movie's final showdown in order to derive pleasure and keep myself in good spirits amidst the pervasive mundaneness. 

the good the bad and the ugly, sergio leone
Wallach and Eastwood in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Sergio Leone's inspired and ingenious direction, in synergy with Ennio Morricone's hyptonic music and Tonino Delli Colli's widescreen cinematography, makes the movie truly unforgettable. The movie's deliberate pacing provides the luxury of character development—an essential attribute that the tight-paced movies often lack. Initially aimed to be a tongue-in-cheek satire on run-of-the-mill westerns, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly has  stood the test of time for over four decades in its endeavor to attain apotheosis (if it hasn't attained it yet). The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is unarguably European cinema's greatest lagniappe to the world of cinema. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is an epitome of style and substance, and is  a must watch for cinema lovers. 

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  

For Best Films by Sergio Leone, please click here

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Trailer

Previous Review: The Last Samurai (2003)

Next ReviewUnforgiven (1992)

Recommended viewingOnce Upon a Time in the West (1968)

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  1. One of the best movies of all time. Kudos to Leone, Morricone, and the three actors who immortalized it :P

    1. Indeed! Thanks for sharing your opinion... please also do checkout my review of Once Upon a Time in the West by following the link below:

  2. For Eastwood, i watched this..
    Not much impressive (acc to me )
    :) smile !

    1. With Westerns, it's generally a matter of taste... you either love them or totally hate them. Thanks a lot for sharing your opinion.

  3. Wonderful review. I am a big fan of sergio leone and clint eastwood. And the great maestro Ennio Morricone has given one of the unforgettable music track in this movie.

    1. Thanks a lot for sharing your valuable opinion... I really appreciate it :P

  4. Great review. That final showdown really is one of the greatest moments in cinematic history.

    1. Without a shadow of a doubt... it's a real masterclass!

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