(Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo)

Directed by Sergio Leone. Italy. 1966.

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Set at the time of the American Civil War, three very different men go on a search for $200,000 worth of gold coins buried in a graveyard. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Sergio Leone was one of at least 400 westerns made by Italian directors between 1963 and 1973 (somewhat condescendingly referred to as "spaghetti westerns") and, though I'm not a big fan of the genre, is one of the best I've seen. In the film, "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood), is the good, "Angel Eyes" (Lee Van Cleef) the bad, and Tuco (Eli Wallach) the ugly, though there is a thin line between the categories and Eastwood's designation as "good" is questionable. At one point, Blondie implies that only power matters when he says: "In this world, there are two kinds of people-those with loaded guns and those who dig." Deserving of the label "good" or not, Blondie is one of Eastwood's best roles and his cynical and super cool demeanor brings the character to life.

Angel Eyes appears first as a hit man who knows about the gold. We then see Blondie carrying out a scam in which he arrests Tuco a dangerous criminal, collects the reward for turning him in, then frees him as he is about to hang. Their partnership is dissolved when Blondie leaves Tuco stranded in the desert, only to return the favor when he makes Blondie march across the desert without water. It is when they run into a stagecoach filled with dead and wounded soldiers that they learn about the gold, but only Blondie discovers the name of the grave in which the cache is buried. Tension mounts as the two fortune seekers must deal with opposing Union and Confederate armies before they can reach the cemetery where the money is buried. An exciting three-way face off between the protagonists, photographed from multiple angles, with the lush score of Ennio Morricone in the background, brings the film to a memorable conclusion.

Howard Schumann
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