60/60 Review #7: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

There are two kinds of westerns in this world: the fast-paced actioners and the slow-burns that last for 3 damn hours. When you look at the western, this one is basically the quintessential film. For the unacquainted, the film introduces us to "the ugly," a bandit named Tuco (Eli Wallach) with very few morals; "the bad," a professional assassin named Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) who never fails to complete a mission once paid; and "the good," a con artist known only as Blondie (Clint Eastwood) who captures a bounty and then frees the outlaw, only to capture and repeat the process. Blondie and Tuco are working together until things begin to derail between them. Angel Eyes is doing a job hunting down a man who has changed his name to Bill Carson. And all three venture through a Civil War-torn south to find buried treasure in a cemetery.

Like any good movie, this one can be split into three parts (but unlike most films, each part is an hour long instead of roughly 30 minutes). The first hour introduces us to the main three characters and how they interact with each other. This hour, despite its slowness, is good. The little segments introducing each character is fun, and the first 10 minutes don't even have dialogue. Still, it left me wondering if we were ever going to get to the point.

The second hour sets up the hidden treasure plot and has our characters together in an army camp. So we finally get to the point and the movie starts picking up a bit. However, whereas the first hour actually felt like a western, this hour starts giving it an overall war film feeling (which continues into the bulk of the next hour, too).

The final hour at first builds steam with a fun shoot-out and one of my favorite lines in the movie ("When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk." Just his delivery of the line is fantastic). But then the movie slams on its breaks for a mostly unnecessary bridge sequence that has Blondie and Tuco at another army camp. It wasn't a bad sequence--just unnecessary. The best part (besides the big explosion) is a very quiet moment when Blondie gives a dying soldier a puff of his cigar. It's such a fantastic moment. After the nearly 30-minute detour, we have our grand finale at the cemetery. The whole cemetery sequence is very well done, of course. Really good stuff.

The acting was solid. Clint Eastwood, who I had yet to see act well, does a really good job here. And Eli Wallach does well, too. But the true star of the film, for me anyway, was Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes. I wanna see this guy in other stuff. He was menacing yet somehow elegant--the best kind of villain. And his distinct look really set him apart, too.

One thing I particularly liked was how, despite being labeled in a very black and white manner, the characters weren't black and white. Blondie wasn't all that "good." Angel Eyes might have been "bad," but he did follow a code of ethics. Tuco was really the only one who didn't walk a gray area. He was selfish and did what benefited him the most--in fact, at times, he was more "bad" than even Angel Eyes.

Anyway, I'll just get into my final notes now. The film's score is wonderful (and famous--despite not having seen the film before, I knew the main theme that plays throughout). The film was basically 2/3s dubbed over in English and 1/3 actually spoken in English. I thought that would get annoying, but you really don't notice it after a while. The film's biggest flaw is really its length. I could have easily done with about an hour or so less and wouldn't have been bothered any. Things did start feeling repetitive in the last half of the movie with all the Civil War stuff, so that could have been trimmed down a lot. I don't mind long movies, but as many people have said in the past--there needs to be a reason that it's that long. Here, there's no reason it needed to be 3 hours long. The pacing was mostly fine up until that last hour.

So that's it. I refrained from being cliche and doing this in a "good, bad, ugly" format (mostly because, honestly, there wasn't anything ugly/terrible about it). Would I go out and watch this again? Probably not--at least not for a good while. But am I glad I saw it? Definitely. Anyway, keep an eye out before next Wednesday for another 60/60 Extra that will help transition from this film into the Japanese western that is coming next (it's not exactly a classic, but it's too good of a transition to pass up). As for this film, however...

A Keanu 'Whoa'


  1. *Whew*

    I swore you weren't gonna like this one...if only for the fact that it's close to 3 hours long and that first hour is almost entirely exposition.

    Course, anytime I hear the music in the graveyard scene I get to thinking about Metallica, since that's the music they've run on stage to for a good long while now.

    If you wanna get yourself some more Lee Van Cleef, track down the second film in the spaghetti western trilogy: FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. After that, you could have yourself a double feature and watch Kurosawa'a YOJIMBO and the first part of the trilogy, A FISTFULL OF DOLLARS.

    Really glad to see you enjoyed this film!

    There are two kinds of people in this word: Those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig.

  2. ha ha! Hatter - you had to bring in the other sergio-leone dollars-trilogy movies! I personally think they build up to TG, TB and TU - the first film is 1hr and a half, the second one is 2 hours and then- finally, the The Good... is 3 hours. I think by the time you have seen the first two spag-dollars films you love the style, the characters and the looks, etc so that three-hours is the least you can get considering there are no more films that are so cool.

    keep going Nick! you're doing so well! Out of curiosity - what films have perked your interest up so far - and therefore forced you to make plans to watch other films in the franchise/by the same director, etc...?


  3. Hatter: Well, I certainly didn't like the 3 hour, and the first hour was a bit slow, but I still enjoyed the overall film. I'll eventually check out the rest of the trilogy, but it might be a while. And I've already seen Yojimbo (which I loved).

    Simon: Thanks. So far no director has made me want to see more (though I know Kurosawa next week will change that, as I've already seen a couple of his films). As for actors, I really liked Paul Newman in "Butch Cassidy" and Lee Van Cleef in this one and would like to see more of them.

    Otherwise, I have been watching quite a few westerns this month. Between those on this list, the first 'extra', another planned 'extra', and then True Grit here soon, I'll be western'd out for a while.

  4. Glad you liked this one Nick, it's one of my all time favourites. It's AWESOME on the big screen

  5. Ha, I just noticed that you have Cuckoo's Nest in the "What's Left - Light" month. Yeah...

    This is only a placeholder comment since we've pretty much already discussed our thoughts on this 'un.

    Good flick, wouldn't mind seeing it on a big screen...aside from that, I probably won't see it again for another decade at least.

    LOL @ Hatter's Metallica comment.

  6. It was a while since I saw this! Maybe the coolest movie trio in film history and a great treasure hunt plot! I get what you are at length wise but I always get sucked in when seeing it so it doesn't bother me.

    I wich you had included High Noon on your western week it feels like the opposite of this one but I guess you have seen it already and thats why it doesn't qualifiy?

  7. I actually have not seen High Noon. It wasn't included on the list because it wasn't given as a suggestion a few months ago when I asked for suggestions. And when it came to westerns, I felt the ones I included were pretty much the top essentials, modern and classic.

  8. If you have the time watch it! Its quite different and modern for its time! And as Seven Samurai it has inspired so many remakes and spoofs its silly!

  9. Talking about essential westerns Stagecoach and The Wild Bunch are my prime candidates with GBU and High Noon for that title. Maverick (with Mel Gibson) is an underrated wild card aswell!


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