I know that Clint Eastwood played the role of the “Man With No Name”, but just to be able to sit down with the fictional character and have a few (make that several) beers, would be the first wish I would call out, should I ever stumble across the proverbial genie in a bottle. I have seen “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” more times than I have hairs on my head, (I have a full head of hair, by the way) and I notice something that I didn’t see before every time I watch it, and every time it gets just a little bit better. I have never deconstructed a movie as much as I have this one, and I can recite long passages of the film, as well as explain character motivations for even the most minor of characters. (E.G. the lady climbing into the stagecoach as Tuco is hung, the “half” soldier, the cigar-smoking guard at the P.O.W. camp, the alcoholic Union Captain, etc.) Even to this day, the music sets my nerves twitching, bracing themselves for the excitement to come.
Of all the grand and glorious movies that have ever been committed to celluloid, this is my favorite. I would like to have it played in the background of my wake. I think the gunfire will add a nice touch. (I plan on going out in a hail of bullets. I mean, if you are going to go, go.)
This is in no way to demean “Fist full of Dollars” or “For A Few Dollars More”. They are both excellent films, but to see “Blondie” and Tuco walk through the smoke to finish off the bad guys, as the town is being shelled, priceless. “Fist full of Dollars” is the better of the other two spaghetti westerns, and is almost up to the quality of “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” as a stand-alone story, but lacks the pathos and grandeur. “For A Few Dollars More” is a great western, but lacks much of the heart of the other two.
Most people dismiss westerns. They have become worse than passé. I can understand this completely. Most of the “horse operas” that are out there are very bad morality plays and are not worth your valuable time. But a truly great movie cannot be dismissed, regardless of genre. There are truly great westerns, trust me. Don’t get me wrong. Most aren’t worth the nickel they used to charge at the door, but the diamonds do tend to sift themselves from the rust. Only 25% of the movies John Wayne ever made would I recommend, unless you were doing a paper for film class. Most of them, on their best day, made it all the way to crap. Westerns were the dumping grounds of a lot of bad actors, and rotten screenwriters, for a lot of years.
You want to see a good western? See “Pale Rider” or “Unforgiven”. These carry on in the voice of the great westerns of long ago. They don’t pander to the idea that the hero wears a white hat, the villain wears a black hat, and the hero always gets the girl. In the wooly west of old, there were no heroes, only varying shades of gray that separated them from the villains, just like today.
Please, please, spend two hours this year and reacquaint yourself with good cinema, if for no other reason than to recognize bad when it comes along. Your woman will never sit through a Clint Eastwood movie willingly, so send her to bed. She won’t get it anyway. She is still too enamored with Clark Gable after watching “It Happened One Night”. Pop some Paul Newman’s popcorn and settle in for a cinematic feast. Treat yourself to a MAN’S NIGHT AT THE MOVIES and get “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” from netflix and have a couple of Steel Reserves.
Trust me Scotland, you’ll thank me.