Friday, April 6, 2012
GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, THE
(December 1967, U.S.)
I've mentioned before that as a film genre I don't care for western because, in general, the storyline almost never changes. You have your small western town with good small western town folks who are threatened by violent, corrupt bandits or rustlers who need to be saved and protected by the good, law-biding stranger who's very often just passin' through town. Maybe there's a small love interest involved and there's almost always a climactic shoot-out in the end...blah, blah, blah! Perhaps redundant formulas can be claimed for just about EVERY genre of film and I'd be the first to agree with it. Westerns, however, just seems to bore me.
But with every firm rule in life, there's also the firm rule of exception. Although I probably can't name even five, there is a small group of westerns that I do enjoy, including the previously blogged BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KIN (1969) and now THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. I should point first that despite the long history of westerns that Clint Eastwood has to his movie career, this is the only one I own in my film collection. This is a stand alone spaghetti western for me that does not include the two films that preceeeded it, A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964) and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965). Yes, strike me down, Eastwood fans, but that's just the way it is.
Eastwood's character, the man with no name who's only referred to as "Blondie" as far from what I would call "Good". In fact, he's a downright ruthless, scheming, double-crossing son of a bitch. Compared to the likes of murderous character like Tuco, the "Ugly" (played by Eli Wallach) and Angel Eyes, the "Bad" (played by Lee Van Cleef), I suppose "Blondie" could be considered a saint. The fact is, though, it's fucking Clint Eastwood and he's always the hero of the big screen, so we love him, good or not.
Returning to the subject of film formula, this film is one that I can safetly say stays clear of it. At its heart, it's a Civil War epic with three less-than-honorable men playing a cat-and-mouse race against each other in order to obtain a buried treasure of $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold buried in a grave at Sad Hill Cemetery. Tuco and Angel Eyes will lie, cheat, steal and kill to get their hands on it. But as western cliche will have it, it's Blondie who will untimately end up the victorious one, perhaps just by sheer luck and circumstance. To the viewer who's enjoying all of this, it hardly matters, as long as we get to see the bad guys pay for their evil ways and also get to watch the good guy ride off into the desert plains with that infamous accompanying film score by Ennio Morricone. Yes, in the end, I susppose Clint Eastwood's character is the "good". Regardless, it's actually a rather powerful moment as the film ends and we hear Tuco scream at the top of his lungs, "Hey Blondie! You know what you are? Just a dirty son of a bitch!"
Ah, yes, westerns may not do it for me so much, but I do love THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY!
Favorite line or dialogue:
One Armed Man: "I've been looking for you for eight months. Whenever I should have had a gun in my right hand, I thought of you. Now I find you in exactly the position that suits me. I had lots of time to learn to shoot with my left."
(Tuco kills him with the gun he has hidden in the foam of the bathtub)
Tuco: "When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk."