The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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(1966, directed by Sergio Leone)

- inducted 2017 –

“It starts out cool: credits like a silk-screened rock poster, grooving Ennio Morricone score punctuated by whistles and gunshots, freeze frames introducing the leads and their titular adjectives. Already in its first shot it ricochets between the visual extremes of a wide, dusty landscape and a closeup of a craggy, sweaty face. But it also asks us to stop and take time to soak in the atmosphere of the Old West in long, dialogue-free sequences of men holding their guns as they creep through the dirt, trying not to be heard over the sound of the breeze. After the comparatively simple A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, Sergio Leone stretched his groundbreaking style across his biggest and best Clint Eastwood western.

“Leone's West is much more corrupt than, say, John Ford's. These three aren't heroes saving anybody's day, they're just greedy, amoral rogues fighting over a stash of Confederate gold. Theirs is a world of bounties, hits, scams, betrayals, double-crosses, tortures and hangings. To get what they want they'll need to outwit or kill each other, then desecrate a grave. But this depraved struggle takes place in the midst of something even worse: armies killing each other over the future of the country. Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes want nothing to do with the civil war, yet they get dragged in, disguising themselves as officers, getting captured, eventually blowing up a bridge to keep both armies away from the cemetery. This could be a historic battle if these guys were even soldiers.

“How many hundreds of times have we heard Morricone's iconic coyote-howl theme used to signify ‘this is a western’? It's ironic that Leone's deconstruction of the genre has become one of its benchmarks, its imagery and sounds as famous as anything it was meant to satirize. But then again, it makes perfect sense. Even severed of its original meaning by the passage of time, its power as a piece of filmmaking is undeniable. Few movies are as entertaining, as beautiful, as unabashedly cinematic.”

~ Vern

Original title: Il buono, il bruto, il cattivo
Principal cast: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach, Aldo Giuffrè, Mario Brega, Luigi Pistilli, Al Mulock, Antonio Casas, Antonio Casale, Antonio Molino Rojo, Rada Rassimov, Enzo Petito, Chelo Alonso
Story by Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Leone
Screenplay by Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Leone, Mickey Knox (English version), Sergio Donati (uncredited)
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Director of photography Tonino Delli Colli
Production design by Carlo Simi
Costume design by Carlo Simi
Film editing by Eugenio Alabiso, Nino Baragli
Original music by Ennio Morricone
Makeup artist Rino Carboni
Hairdresser Rino Todero
Sound by Vittorio De Sisti, Elio Pacella
Titles designed by Lardani
Special effects by Eros Bacciucchi
Stunt performer: John Landis (uncredited)

Italy / USA
Duration: 177 minutes
Languages: English
Filmed in color
Sound mix: Mono
Cinematographic process: Techniscope (2-perf)
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Printed film format: 35mm

Produced by Produzioni Europee Associati, co-produced with Arturo Gonzalez Producciones Cinematograficas, S.A., and Constantin Film
Released in USA by United Artists
Premiered in Italy on December 23, 1966
USA release date: December 29, 1967

Awards and honors:
- 50th Anniv. Muriel Award
- Selected as one of Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies,” August 3, 2003