The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Truth
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
When you think of the Western genre, what do you think of? Cowboys, Gunslingers, and the high scorching temperatures of the desert. But many think of Clint Eastwood. For good reason, too. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (GBU) is widely regarded as the best western film ever made.
The film is the third film in the Man with No Name series. Clint Eastwood stars as the man with no name, a bounty hunter in the old west, just trying to earn his dollar and make it by. In the series, he plays the “antihero.” His character was selfish, acted in self interest, and only sometimes did what was right, but we still root for him anyways. Tuco (played by Eli Wallach) is “the Ugly.” Another selfish bounty hunter, but unlike Eastwood’s character, Tuco harbors the most vile characteristics of a human. Angel Eyes (played by Lee Van Cleef) is “the Bad.” A third bounty hunter, with no regard for human life.
The film is set during the civil war, which plays an important role in the film. As the three main characters find out about a hidden treasure, buried in the grave of a fallen civil war soldier, they race across war torn America, and see how the war is affecting everyone.
This film is among the few that dons the term “Spaghetti Western.” In the 1950’s and early 60’s Westerns were very popular and were shot in studios in Hollywood. Director Sergio Leonne, decided to shoot American Westerns in the deserts of Italy, to save cost. This method garnered the term “Spaghetti Western.”
Along with Italian director, Sergio Leonne, came Italian composer Ennio Morricone. Morricone created the soundtrack to this film, and few soundtracks are as widely recognized as GBU. Any time you see a standoff in television or film, you instantly think of the “Wah Wah Wah.” Even today in several beer commercials, you’ll hear Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” It was so fitting and beautiful, that it seals its name as one of the most iconic soundtracks of all time.
Eastwood’s performance in this film was also stellar. There aren’t many names you think of that are that are tied to the portrayal of cowboys than Clint Eastwood. John Wayne, maybe, but I would argue that Eastwood is tied more. Under his poncho, and his hat, he is able to give one look that says 1,000,000 words. By the end of the film, you can hardly recognize his character because you believe in his change. It’s not just Eastwood’s performance either. The entire cast is fantastic. Van Cleef as Angel eyes is terrifying. In his introductory scene, you see him killing an entire family, to claim a bounty on one man. Without saying a word, you know what his motivations, intentions, and drives are. Eli Wallach is also fantastic as Tuco, you really feel how vile men like him are. There’s one scene in the film where Eastwood’s character is begging for water, and Tuco dumps it in the sand in front of him.
This film brings up the value of human life, as Eastwood slowly changes his perspective of it. He slowly realizes that human life is priceless. American culture however begs to differ. Insurance policies make the claim that life has a price tag. The film contradicts this by showing how Eastwood’s character changes his ideals and only kills when needed.
This film starts out as a regular western, but you gradually realize it’s more than that. It’s a thought provoking film about the value of human life. It makes you question whether or not money is everything. Through Tuco and Eastwood’s uneasy alliance, you also realize that friendships also can come out of the most unusual places. The good, The Bad, and The ugly. Is not only my favorite western film. It’s also one of my favorite films of all time. You will not be disappointed seeing this film.