Does it get any better than this? I submit to you, it does not. Nearly fifty years old, Sergio Leone’s apotheosis, “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” is the final word in spaghetti western film. Quentin Tarantino counts director Sergio Leone as a primary influence: “Inglorious Basterds” was a catalogue of the “Mexican standoff” style popularized by Leone, and QT’s upcoming “Django Unchained” is an attempt to recapture the old Leone spark.
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” follows Clint Eastwood, a drifter known only as The Man With No Name (one character calls him “Blondie” throughout the film), through the crossings, double-crossings, and adventure as he seeks $200,000 in Confederate gold in the old west. Also in on the adventure are Eli Wallach as “The Ugly,” an unintelligent schemer, and Lee Van Cleef as “The Bad,” a brutal thief determined to have the gold to himself.
Beyond that, the plot is impossible to summarize. It is a wandering action epic with a plot as large as the adventure novels of H. Rider Haggard and Edgar Rice Burrougs. And Leone’s approach to action has never been equaled, using nearly endless closeups and savvy use of Ennio Morricone’s score to create unbelievable suspense. For any aspiring action filmmaker – or anyone who appreciates the movies – “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” is an essential.