Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wednesday Westerns: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Welcome a weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. In an effort to provide a look back at older films and a desire to highlight a specific genre, I will be spotlighting a Western film each week, combining films from a course I took while at NYU called Myth of the Last Western and other films I have seen and do see. If you have a Western you’d like to write about, please let me know and feel free to submit a guest spot for future weeks!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Directed by Sergio Leone
Released December 29, 1967

Almost inarguably the definitive spaghetti western, “Il Buono, il Brutto, il Cattivo” is a fantastic follow-up to last week’s entry, “For a Few Dollars More.” There's a reason this film currently ranks at #4 on the IMDB Top 250 list. Joining the good, Clint Eastwood’s Blondie, and the bad, Lee Van Cleef’s Angel Eyes, is the even more despicable Tuco, played by a fast-talking Eli Wallach. It was personally enjoyable for me to see Wallach in such a scummy role after encountering the still-working actor, now 95 years old and perfectly charming, in a restroom at the AMC Lincoln Square before “For Your Consideration” a few years old. Eastwood, Van Cleef, and Wallach make an incomparable trio, each more seedy, slimy, and out for themselves than the former. The backdrop of the Civil War helps to ground this film historically and give it a larger sense of itself, even if all we really care about is the three main characters and their feuds. It’s a wonderful trick to be able to manage three players and have them each be just as crucial and significant to the story without marginalizing one too much or showcasing another to strongly. This film just wouldn’t work without each of its contributors, and Leone’s careful, stylized direction. Most famous about this film, of course, is its signature score by Ennio Morricone that has been repurposed for movie standoffs more than the theme to “Star Wars.” I can’t embed the classic, incredible final scene, but you can watch it for yourself here. There’s just nothing like it. If you’re not keen on venturing off this page, here’s that incredible theme.

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