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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly poster
Directed by Sergio Leone
Produced by Alberto Grimaldi
Starring

Clint Eastwood
Lee Van Cleef
Eli Wallach

Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli
Editing by Eugenio Alabiso
Nino Baragli
Distributed by United Artists
Release 15 December 1966 (Italy)
Running time 177 minutes
Country Italy
Language Italian
English
Budget $1.2 million
Gross revenue $25,100,000[2] (domestic)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Italian title: Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo) is a 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti western film directed by Sergio Leone, starring Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach in the title roles respectively. The screenplay was written by Age & Scarpelli, Luciano Vincenzoni and Leone, based on a story by Vincenzoni and Leone. Director of photography Tonino Delli Colli was responsible for the film's sweeping widescreen cinematography and Ennio Morricone composed the famous film score, including its main theme. It is the third film in the Dollars Trilogy following A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965). The plot revolves around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps. The film was a co-production between companies in Italy, Spain and West Germany.

Plot

In a desolate Western ghost town, Mexican bandit Tuco Ramirez ("The Ugly") narrowly escapes three bounty hunters, killing two and wounding a third. Miles away, Angel Eyes ("The Bad") interrogates former Confederate soldier Stevens about a fugitive now calling himself "Bill Carson", a man with information about a cache of Confederate gold. The interrogation concludes with Angel Eyes killing Stevens. He soon collects his fee from his employer and then sadistically kills him as well.

A group of bounty hunters ambush Tuco for the reward on his head. They are all surprised by Blondie ("The Good"), a mysterious gunman who challenges the group to a draw, which he wins with lightning speed. Initially elated, Tuco is enraged when Blondie delivers him for the $2,000 reward. As Tuco is about to be hanged, Blondie surprises the authorities and frees Tuco at gunpoint. The two escape (as we now see they had pre-planned) and split the reward money, beginning a partnership and lucrative money-making scheme. Eventually Blondie, weary of Tuco's complaints about profit share, abandons him penniless in the desert. Tuco survives and, with three bandits, tracks Blondie to a hotel. In the ensuing firefight, Blondie kills the three bandits while Tuco catches Blondie off guard but Blondie escapes in the chaos of an artillery bombardment.

After a relentless search, Tuco captures Blondie and directs him on a sadistic forced march across the harsh, blistering desert. As Blondie collapses from dehydration and Tuco is on the point of shooting him, he is interrupted by the sight of a runaway carriage. Tuco halts the carriage and finds Bill Carson, close to death, babbling about $200,000 of stolen Confederate gold buried in a grave in a certain cemetery. When Carson passes out, Tuco returns with water, only to find Carson dead and Blondie slumped next to him. Before passing out, Blondie says he now knows the name on the grave where the gold is buried.

Aware that they each need the other to recover the loot, the men disguise themselves as Confederate soldiers and retire to an old Spanish frontier mission whose head priest is Tuco's estranged brother. After Blondie recovers from his ordeal, the two leave in their Confederate uniforms but are soon captured by a force of Union soldiers and remanded to a Union prison camp. At the camp roll call, Tuco answers for "Bill Carson", drawing the attention of Angel Eyes, now a Union sergeant at the camp. Angel Eyes has Tuco tortured to reveal the name of the cemetery. Aware that Blondie will not yield so easily, Angel Eyes offers him an equal share of the gold in exchange for his information. Blondie agrees and rides out with Angel Eyes and his gang while Tuco, now a prisoner aboard a Union train, escapes custody.

Blondie, Angel Eyes, and his men arrive in an evacuated town. Tuco, having fled to the same town, wanders the abandoned buildings, unaware of a bounty hunter stalking him. While taking a bath, the bounty hunter surprises Tuco, who nevertheless shoots and kills him. When Blondie investigates the gunshot, he finds Tuco. After informing him of Angel Eyes's plans, Blondie resumes the old partnership with Tuco. The two skulk through the wrecked town and kill Angel Eyes's henchmen before they discover that Angel Eyes has escaped.

Tuco and Blondie make for the cemetery, but stumble into Union lines instead and are captured by Union troops who occupy one side of a nearby strategic bridge. Confederate forces, as well as the cemetery, are the opposite side. Under questioning by the Union commander, Tuco and Blondie enlist in the Union Army. In their new positions, Blondie suggests destroying the bridge to disperse the two armies to allow them access to the cemetery. As he and Tuco rig the bridge with dynamite (an anachronism, as dynamite was not invented until 1867), Tuco reveals the name of the cemetery — Sad Hill Cemetery — while Blondie reveals the name on the grave as "Arch Stanton". The bridge explodes, throwing the opposing armies into a fierce artillery battle. The next morning, the armies are gone. Tuco steals a horse and rides ahead to claim the gold for himself, where he locates Arch Stanton's grave and begins digging. Blondie soon arrives and encourages him at gunpoint to continue. A moment later, Angel Eyes surprises them both at gunpoint. Blondie kicks open Stanton's grave, revealing just a skeleton. Declaring that only he knows the real name of the grave, Blondie pretends to scribble it on a rock while challenging his adversaries to a three-way duel.

The three stare each other down in the circular center of the cemetery, before suddenly drawing. Blondie kills Angel Eyes, while Tuco discovers that his own gun was unloaded by Blondie the night before. Blondie then directs Tuco to the grave marked "Unknown" just next to the grave of Arch Stanton and tells him to dig. Tuco finds bags of gold inside and is at first overjoyed but then looks up to find a hangman's noose prepared for him. Blondie forces Tuco atop an unsteady grave marker and tightens the noose around his neck, before taking half of the gold and riding away. As Tuco screams his name in fury, Blondie's silhouette returns on the horizon, aiming a rifle. With a single gunshot, Blondie severs the rope, dropping Tuco face-first onto his share of the gold. Blondie smiles and rides off as Tuco curses him in rage, shouting, "Hey Blondie! You know what you are? Just a dirty son of a bitch!"

Cast

  • Clint Eastwood as "Blondie": The Good (a.k.a. the Man with No Name), a subdued, cocksure bounty hunter who teams with Tuco, and Angel Eyes temporarily, to find the buried gold. Blondie and Tuco have an ambivalent partnership. Tuco knows the name of the cemetery where the gold is hidden, but Blondie knows the name of the grave where it is buried, forcing them to work together to find the treasure. In spite of this greedy quest, Blondie's pity for the dying soldiers in the chaotic carnage of the War is evident. "I've never seen so many men wasted so badly," he remarks. Rawhide had ended its run as a series in 1966 and at that point neither A Fistful of Dollars nor For a Few Dollars More had been released in the United States. When Leone offered Clint Eastwood a role in his next movie, it was the only big film offer he had; however, Eastwood still needed to be convinced to do it. Leone and his wife traveled to California to persuade him. Two days later, he agreed to make the film upon being paid $250,000 and getting 10% of the profits from the North American markets—a deal with which Leone was not happy.
  • Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes: The Bad, a ruthless, unfeeling, and sociopathic mercenary named "Angel Eyes" (Sentenza—Sentence—in the original script and the Italian version), who always finishes a job he's paid for (which is usually finding—and killing—people). When Blondie and Tuco are captured while posing as Confederate soldiers, Angel Eyes is the Union sergeant who interrogates and has Tuco tortured, eventually learning the name of the cemetery where the gold is buried, but not the name on the tombstone. Angel Eyes forms a fleeting partnership with Blondie, but Tuco and Blondie turn on Angel Eyes when they get their chance. Originally, Leone wanted Charles Bronson to play Angel Eyes but he was already committed to playing in The Dirty Dozen (1967). Leone thought about working with Lee Van Cleef again: "I said to myself that Van Cleef had first played a romantic character in For a Few Dollars More. The idea of getting him to play a character who was the opposite of that began to appeal to me."
  • Eli Wallach as Tuco: The Ugly, Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez (known as "The Rat" according to Blondie), a comical, oafish (though proven also very dangerous as seen throughout the film), fast-talking Mexican bandit who is wanted by the authorities for a long list of crimes. Tuco manages to discover the name of the cemetery where the gold is buried, but he does not know the name of the grave—only Blondie does. This state of affairs forces Tuco to become reluctant partners with Blondie. The director originally considered Gian Maria Volonté for the role of Tuco, but felt that the role required someone with "natural comic talent". In the end, Leone chose Eli Wallach based on his role in How the West Was Won (1962), in particular, his performance in "The Railroads" scene. In LA, Leone met Wallach, who was skeptical about playing this type of character again, but after Leone screened the opening credit sequence from For a Few Dollars More, Wallach said: "When do you want me?" The two men got along famously, sharing the same bizarre sense of humor. Leone allowed Wallach to make changes to his character in terms of his outfit and recurring gestures. Both Eastwood and Van Cleef realized that the character of Tuco was close to Leone's heart, and the director and Wallach became good friends. They communicated in French, which Wallach spoke badly and Leone spoke well. Van Cleef observed, "Tuco is the only one of the trio the audience gets to know all about. We meet his brother and find out where he came from and why he became a bandit. But Clint's character and Angel's remain mysteries." In the theatrical trailer, Angel Eyes is referred to as The Ugly and Tuco, The Bad. This is due to a translation error; the original Italian title translates literally to "The Good, the Ugly, the Bad".

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