Quick-Thoughts: Sergio Leone’s The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (1966)

Screened at Cinépolis • 2nd Viewing

This is the ultimate “it’s complicated” bromance movie. The protagonists and the antagonists have become blurred by the mutuality of their friendships and foeships. 

AKA, A Million Ways to Die in the West? The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is a gloomy, violent, and merciless three-hour race to greed, and for some odd reason that I can’t quite put a finger on, it’s beautiful to witness. The title names are pretty arbitrary (the good, the bad, the ugly) if you sit on them for awhile, knowing that the only reason Blondie is considered “good” is for his minor keenness to forgive wrongdoers, recognize the dying/dead, and enforce a hypocritical sense of discipline, but that speaks level towards the hideousness of the time period — he’s sadly the peak of altruism aside from the priests; Blondie even steals money akin to Tuco (the ugly) who is only considered worse for applying vengeance, perfidious homaging, and manipulative, demeaning lies into the mix. You could even argue Angel Eyes (the bad) has a level of bare minimum morality to him, obliging and keeping some promises to even that of his enemies and victims. Nobody prefers war, nobody prefers death, but the shallow emptiness and minimal opportunity for happiness in the west forces them all to just drink it down and go with it. Like Tuco insinuated, out here during these strident times of Civil War and economical plumage, you‘re either forced to become a practical bandit or a hopeful priest, and maybe even something that fuses between the two. 

Yet, even with the often melancholy nature of the movie, I totally forgot about how funny it is. The final film in the Dollars Trilogy really does feel more like Tuco’s story than anyone else’s. Eli Wallach is the shining star of the picture — minus Ennio Morricone’s score, of course. The vast DOF is a noticeable strong point, as well.

Though, despite how intense this movie still holds to be on a second viewing, after seeing Once Upon a Time in the West for the first time a year ago, this almost seems like child’s play put up against that follow-up. Emotive evolution! 

Verdict: A-

Sergio Leone Ranked

“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” is now playing in select Cinépolis theaters.

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