The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Directed by Sergio Leone. Italy. 1966. R. 161 minutes. MGM. 35mm.
Sun., January 29, 2012
The third and, many feel, the best of the Eastwood/Leone Dollars trilogy, features not only Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef, but also the great Eli Wallach. Considered the ultimate spaghetti western (CineBooks Movie Guide), this concluding chapter provides an exceptionally fine-tuned and complex scenario within a deceptively simple story-line: the three main characters are each, independently, out to find a hidden fortune that has been buried in an unmarked grave. However, their search is complicated by the fact that it is taking place within the context of the Civil War, the tragedy and bloody futility of which can be seen to dwarf their own individual acts of violence. Indeed, this setting brings out complex and often startling reactions from each of the main characters, taking the film well beyond the boundaries of the standard action film. Despite the seriousness of this theme, Leone provides his usual elements of humor and irony, particularly with the character played by Wallach, and makes for a terrific finale to the saga of The Man With No Name. (Bill Roth)