Welcome to the Drunk Monkeys Movie Club!
Every few weeks we will be watching and discussing a film—from classics to cult favorites, to overlooked gems or all-out bombs—as selected by a member of our staff, or a special guest. This week we discuss Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti-western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, as selected by our Film Editor, Gabriel Ricard.
Let Gabriel explain a bit of what he loves about the movie, and then join in the discussion below!
Sergio Leone made small, gritty films, but he also had vision enough to make a number of epics. Of those epics, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is his best known. It’s largely remembered now for two things: Clint Eastwood (or at least his wardrobe) and Ennio Morricone’s iconic score. That song plays along the film’s bloody, breathless opening credits sequence. That song gets you ready for a sweeping, ugly, funny, and violent story of three men and their interactions with each other over a matter of buried confederate gold.
It’s the final film in the Dollars Trilogy that Eastwood and Leone worked on together, and the last time they would collaborate. Eastwood was tired of Leone’s perfectionism by then. Leone would later compare Eastwood unfavorably to Robert De Niro. It’s a shame they never worked together again, but at least we have The Dollars Trilogy. Of those films, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is easily the best.
If you’ve never seen The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly before, that opening song (which is also called “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”) sets you up for the film itself beautifully—it’s a battle cry that plunges us into violence, gunfire, and chaos. The world of the film is static in its anarchy. The three men who are focused on finding that gold (Eastwood, the sorely missed Lee Van Cleef, and the recently departed Eli Wallach) have to navigate through that anarchy every step of the way. At the same time, they also have to deal with each other.
All of those things provide more than enough plot to supplement Leone’s masterful filmmaking techniques and the performances of the three phenomenal leads. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is about 177 minutes, but none of those minutes are dull. Leone burns through them with a ferocity that starts out frantic and never slows down.
It has been nearly 50 years since this film was originally released in its native Italy, and it’s still finding new fans all the time. That’s because of the bullets, the greed, the betrayals, the sadistic sun, the humorless frontier towns, the towering figures who make up the film’s title, the soundtrack, and the temperamental, dangerous universe that occasionally sweeps aside the fortunes and ambitions of mere mortal men. All of those elements and others make up the cinematic DNA of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. And The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is still a hell of a good movie.
– Gabriel Ricard, Film Editor
What did you this of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly? Let us know in the comments section below!