Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #4
Director: Sergio Leone
Starring: Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach
There are two kinds of people in the world, my friends: those who have been profoundly affected by The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and those with bad taste in movies. There are very few movies that have changed the landscape of cinema more than this one. Even knowing that the Westerns director Sergio Leone shot prior to this were very good, it's still out of left field how incredibly good this movie is. It's undoubtedly the most modern-looking film that had been released as of 1966 in terms of camera techniques and cinematography in general, and even with the crude dubbing – Leone had his international cast of actors shoot the film in their own native tongues then had all but the titular characters played by Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef dubbed into English at a later date – the movie holds up extremely well. It has changed not only the way that films are made and the way audiences expect movies to be, but also the way we envision the Old West and even the way we speak. The way I end every entry on this very blog only exists because of that fantastic turn of phrase that Sergio Leone invented. Since I feel that a plot summary is frankly below this movie, I'm going to jump right into that part. Don't worry, you're not being shortchanged; "The Good" section will have more than that of damn near every other movie I'll write about for this list.
The Good: Ennio Morricone's iconic score that influenced everyone from classical composers to drone metal bands. Clint Eastwood's performance which finally assured that he could work in motion pictures for as long as he felt like doing so; thankfully, he's still riding that wave today. Lee Van Cleef's truly evil role as Angel Eyes. Eli Wallach's wildly underrated and movie-best performance as Tuco. Sergio Leone's extreme closeups by which all other closeups must be measured, as well as his brilliant long shots of Spain that redefined the way we see the American West. The opening credits with Morricone's score and bright reds and yellows introducing the cast and crew. The breakfast table scene. The first false hanging scene. The walking through the desert scene. The gun store scene. The prison camp scene. The bridge blowing scene. The graveyard scene, and especially the graveyard shootout scene. The wide-angle parting shot of Eastwood riding into the distance like he always does. Everything that takes place between hitting "Play" on your DVD player and hitting "Eject" with either a shit-eating grin or a slack-jawed look of disbelief on your face is what is good about this movie. Very few others are in its league, and I haven't talked about any of them yet, so this is your first opportunity to see me in true fanboy mode. Soak it in, and laugh if you must, but whatever you do, watch this movie.
The Bad: The first time I watched it, the dubbing was juuuuuust distracting enough that I noticed it. I was still awestruck by everything else going on, though, so I wouldn't worry about that too much if you're new to the film.
The Skinny: #4 on the IMDb list and very nearly that high on my own.