44. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Directed by Segio Leone

Written by Age & Scarpelli, Sergio Leone and Luciano Vincenzoni

Produced by Alberto Grimaldi

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleet and Eli Wallach

Country: Italy 

Release date: December 15, 1966

Running time: 177 minutes

Why should see it? 

This is an epic spaghetti western (the movie is considered the greatest spaghetti western ever made) with one of the most famous film scores in film story. The score was made by Ennio Morricone. This is the third film in the Dollar trilogy.

The movie portraits one of the most iconic heroes in cinema: the man with no name. This character wears a poncho, smokes a small cigar and have an uncanny ability, those are his trades; this hero is defined more by action than words.

The bad, the good and the ugly is one of that movies that mix the visual perfection, with a great script, perfect performances, a beautiful score and of course with a grim brutality and violence.

Leone’s films are satires of the western genre, a critique to American ideology of western by pointing how and misguided they are in their portrayal of society. Just check the names of the films of the Dollar Trilogy.

Plot

In a desolate ghost town during the American Civil War, bandit Tuco Ramirez narrowly shoots his way past three bounty hunters to freedom, killing two but only badly wounding the third. Miles away, Angel Eyes interrogates a former soldier called Stevens about a missing man named Jackson who has taken on the name “Bill Carson”  and a cache of stolen Confederate gold. He brutally guns down Stevens and his eldest son after the interrogation, but not before Stevens pays Angel Eyes to kill Angel Eyes’ employer, another former soldier named Baker. Angel Eyes later collects his fee for Stevens’ killing from Baker, and then shoots and kills him, too.

Meanwhile, during Tuco’s flight across the desert he runs into a group of bounty hunters who prepare to capture him when they are approached by Blondie, a mysterious lone gunman who challenges the hunters to the draw, which he wins with lightning speed. Initially elated, Tuco is enraged when Blondie delivers him up to the local authorities for the reward money of $2,000. Hours later, as Tuco awaits his execution, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco by shooting the execution rope; the two later meet to split the reward money, revealing their lucrative money-making scheme. After Tuco’s bounty is raised to $3,000, the two repeat the process at another town before Blondie, weary of Tuco’s incessant complaints about the dividing of the profits from their scheme, abandons him in the desert, keeping all of the money. A livid Tuco manages to make it to another town and rearm himself with a revolver. Some time later in another town, Tuco enlists three outlaws to come with him to kill Blondie. As the three men break into Blondie’s room, Blondie shoots and kills all three of them, but to Blondie’s surprise Tuco climbs up through his back window and aims his gun at Blondie and captures him while a skirmish between Union and Confederate troops rages on outside. As Tuco prepares to kill Blondie by fashioning a noose and forcing Blondie to put it around his neck, a cannonball hits the hotel and demolishes the room, allowing Blondie to escape.

Following a relentless search, Tuco captures Blondie using the same scheme with another partner and marches him across the harsh desert. When Blondie finally collapses from dehydration and heatstroke, Tuco prepares to kill him but pauses when a runaway ambulance carriage appears on the horizon heading their way. Inside, while looting the dead soldiers, Tuco discovers a dying Bill Carson, who reveals that $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold is buried in a grave in Sad Hill cemetery but falls unconscious before naming the grave. When Tuco returns with water, he discovers Carson dead and Blondie slumped against the carriage beside Carson’s body. Before passing out, Blondie says that Carson told him the name on the grave, so now Tuco and Blondie know half of the secret of the location but neither can get the gold without the help of the other. Tuco takes Blondie to a Catholic mission run by Tuco’s older brother Father Pablo. Tuco nurses Blondie back to health, and the two leave, still disguised. They inadvertently encounter a force of Union soldiers. They are captured and marched to a Union prison camp.

At the camp, Corporal Wallace calls the roll. Tuco answers for Bill Carson, catching the attention of Angel Eyes, now disguised as a Union Sergeant stationed at the camp. Angel Eyes has Wallace viciously beat and torture Tuco into revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the location of the gold, but Tuco also confesses that only Blondie knows the name on the grave. Convinced that Blondie would not be easily broken, Angel Eyes offers to take Tuco’s place in the partnership to recover the gold. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his posse. Meanwhile, Tuco escapes while being transported by train to his execution, killing Corporal Wallace in the process.

We next see Angel Eyes’ gang, including Blondie, arriving in a town that’s rapidly being evacuated due to heavy artillery fire. Tuco, wandering aimlessly through the wreckage of that same town, is oblivious of the bounty hunter that survived at the start of the movie, who tracks and ambushes Tuco who is taking a bath in an abandoned building. Despite the surprise, Tuco shoots and kills the bounty hunter. Blondie investigates the gunshot, finding Tuco and informing him of Angel Eyes’s involvement. The two resume their old partnership, stalking through the wrecked town and killing Angel Eyes’ henchmen before discovering that Angel Eyes has escaped and left an insulting note for them.

Tuco and Blondie find their way to Sad Hill Cemetery, but it is blocked by large Union and Confederate forces who are separated only by a narrow bridge. Each side is preparing to fight for it, but apparently both sides have been ordered not to destroy the bridge. Reasoning that if the bridge were destroyed “these idiots would go somewhere else to fight”, Blondie and Tuco wire the bridge with dynamite. During the process, the two trade information, Tuco revealing Sad Hill Cemetery as the gold’s location and Blondie saying that the name on the grave is Arch Stanton. The two then take cover as the bridge blows up and the two armies resume their battle. The next morning, the Confederate and Union soldiers have gone. Tuco abandons Blondie to retrieve the gold for himself at the cemetery. Frantically searching the sea of makeshift tombstones and grave markers, Tuco finally locates Arch Stanton’s grave. As he digs, Blondie appears and tosses him a shovel. A second later, the two are surprised by Angel Eyes, who holds them at gunpoint. Blondie kicks open Stanton’s grave to reveal just a skeleton. Declaring that only he knows the real name of the grave, Blondie writes it on a rock in the middle of the graveyard and tells Tuco and Angel Eyes that “two hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. We’re going to have to earn it.”

The three stare each other down in the circular center of the cemetery, calculating alliances and dangers in a Mexican standoff before suddenly drawing. Blondie shoots Angel Eyes, who tries to shoot Blondie while he is down only to be shot by Blondie again and roll into an open grave, dead. Tuco also tries to shoot Angel Eyes, but discovers that Blondie had unloaded his gun the night before. Blondie directs Tuco to the grave marked “Unknown” next to Arch Stanton’s. Tuco digs and is overjoyed to find bags of gold inside, but is shocked when he turns to Blondie and finds himself staring at a noose. Seeking a measure of revenge for what Tuco has done to him, Blondie forces Tuco to stand atop a tottery grave marker and fixes the noose around his neck, binding Tuco’s hands before riding off with his share of the gold. As Tuco screams for mercy, Blondie’s silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle at him. Blondie fires a single shot and severs the noose rope, just like old times, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold. Blondie smiles and rides off as Tuco, who has his gold but no horse, curses him in rage by shouting “Hey Blondie! You know what you are? Just a dirty son of a bitch!”

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