Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly) (Sergio Leone, 1967)
[originally posted 15Feb2001]
There are a number of great things about this movie. The first ten minutes. The last ten minutes. The theme music, which has come to be synonymous with the American west. Lee van Cleef, who was great in every role he ever played.
And then there was the middle hundred sixty minutes.
There’s an odd tendency among filmmakers to take a razor-thin plot and stretch it far too long. Such is the case here, with the plot being a race between the Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood), a hired gun named Angel Eyes (van Cleef), and the Man with No Name’s on-again off-again sidekick Tuco (Eli Wallach) to find a cache of stolen gold during the Civil War. This plot meanders for two and three-quarters hours before getting on track, and that’s about an hour and three-quarters too long. The subplots are never developed, nor are the characters. Tuco switches allegiances every ten minutes. After a while, it gets just plain boring.
Definitely could have used a good editor. Eastwood’s westerns got better with age (his, not theirs); Unforgiven and Pale Rider are better, tighter films. **