I would like to point out a few components that make this a truly great film in my opinion.

Eli Wallach outperforms both Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef by far.  His interpretation of Tuco's character is right on the spot.  Just by looking at him you can imagine he is up to no good.  He is the kind of man that, if you met on the street, would make you immediately check for your wallet to see if it's still in place.  His beady eyes, his nervous laughterGreed exudes from his character.

Humour.  Almost every scene with Tuco brings a smile to my face, but Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) has a very funny scene when he meets his employer at the beginning of the film ("I think he wanted me to kill you"1).

There's a very touching scene in the monastery, when Tuco meets his brother (Father Pablo Ramirez) whom he hasn't seen since they were kids.  Tuco's argument for becoming a bandit almost brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it, and so does his attempts to dissimulate to Blondie (Eastwood) the fact that his brother cast him out, even though there was a half hearted attempt by Pablo to seek forgiveness.

Tuco's first scenes in the cemetery, running like a madman in search of the tomb where the gold is hidden.  Makes me wonder how a semi-literate man can read so fast ("So long, idi... idi..." -- "Idiots.  It's for you"1).

The final showdownMexican standoff style.  The true genius of Sergio Leone shines in this scenes.  Long cuts that become shorter and shorter and faster and faster until we can see each fighter eye to eye, and then... bang!  It's over.

And so shines the genius of Ennio Morricone, all throughout the movie.  The music is a truly integral part of this film.  Non intrusive and never out of place.


1: I'm paraphrasing. But those of you who have seen this movie, know what I'm talking about.

For three men, the Civil War wasn’t hell. It was practice!

Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo


1966, Italy, 180 minutes

Director: Sergio Leone
Producer: Alberto Grimaldi
Screenplay: Age, Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone
Director of Photography: Tonino Delli Colli
Editors: Nino Baragli, Eugenio Alabiso
Original Music: Ennio Morricone

Cast:
Clint Eastwood as “Blondie”
Eli Wallach as Tuco
Lee Van Cleef as Sentenza “Angel Eyes”
Aldo Giuffre as Union Captain
Luigi Pistilli as Father Pablo Ramirez
Mario Brega as Cpl. Wallace

Plot * Spoilers ahead *

The movie starts out by introducing the three main characters, who are aptly labeled the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Tuco and the nameless man, who is called “Blondie” throughout the film, are two con artists in cahoots, duping unsuspecting townspeople out of hundreds of dollars. Tuco commits a series of crimes that place a large bounty on his head and is “turned in” to a number of different towns by Blondie. After receiving the money, Blondie saves Tuco through his expert marksmanship and the two make off into the desert with their reward. However, Blondie breaks their relationship when he leaves Tuco in the middle of 70 miles of desert and rides away with the money. Meanwhile, Sentenza learns of a hidden $200,000 belonging to an eye-patch wearing man named Bill Carson while on his job as a hired assassin.

Miraculously, Tuco survives his trek back to civilization and promptly finds Blondie. After marching Blondie 100 miles into the desert, Blondie is on the verge of death when a horse-drawn carriage appears out of nowhere containing a number of dead bodies. The only one alive happens to be Bill Carson, who offers Tuco $200,000 in return for some water. Tuco pressures Carson into telling him the location of the money, an old graveyard, before giving him water, but fails to find out which grave the money is buried in. Tuco rushes to get him water, but when he comes back Carson is laying next to Blondie dead. In an ironic twist, Blondie found out the grave that the money is buried in. With Blondie close to dying, Tuco has no choice but to keep him alive in order to get the money.

Blondie and Tuco, after trying to kill each other, reluctantly travel together in order to find the money. They are soon captured by the Union army, with Sentenza as a leading officer. In a trick he uses to find the money, Sentenza does a roll call and asks for Bill Carson. Tuco, who isn’t enrolled in army, steps forward and steals the name Bill Carson. Sentenza, knowing something is wrong, feigns hospitality towards the Carson imposter, calling him an old friend. When Sentenza learns that Tuco is not the real Bill Carson, he tortures Tuco until he tells him the name of the graveyard containing the money. Sentenza deports Tuco and becomes Blondie’s new partner in his journey to find the $200,000.

Through his trademark trickery, Tuco escapes and hunts down Blondie. The reunited partners, who apparently respect each other more than they realized, escape Sentenza and his goons in a totally sweet gunfight highlighted by the explosions of mortars and foggy, dust-filled streets. After another hold-up involving the Civil War, which involves the two armies fighting for control of a bridge, they take matters into their own hands in the famous explosion scene where they decide to blow the bridge to pieces. Instead of using models, Leone decided to actually construct the bridge. The bridge and damn underneath took six weeks and 500 laborers to build. In addition, he only had one shot to film the scene. He used eight cameras to capture every possible angle in what became one of the most jaw-dropping action scenes ever filmed.

Finally, Tuco and Blondie make it to the graveyard, with Sentenza on their heels. The result is a brilliantly shot showdown with camera shots that become shorter and shorter, building a suspense that very few films have ever been able to capture. Who gets the money? Well you will just have to find out…

Quotes:

Tuco: There are two kinds of people in the world my friend, those with a rope around their neck and the people that have the job of doing the cutting!

Tuco: When you have to shoot, shoot - don't talk!

Tuco: God is on our side because he hates the Yanks!
Blondie: God is not on our side because he hates idiots also

Angel Eyes: When I'm paid, I always follow my job through. You know that.

Blondie: You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

Ahee-ahee-ahhhh! Wah-wah-wah!


Vorbis has pointed out that Setenza should be spelled Sentenza. On my dvd it is spelled without the N but Vorbis says that his does include it, as well as the IMDB. I'll look some more into then change the writeup later

*Update* Most other sources are saying Sentenza. I don't know what's wrong with my DVD, perhaps they changed it for the English version?

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