For Reel

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
July 7, 2016, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Sergio Leone
5 Stars
The Good, the Bad, and the UglyThat Clint Eastwood’s character in the Sergio Leone films is widely known as “the man with no name” is a perfect distillation of the mythmaking that happens in the series—it’s a moniker that is absent from the screenplays themselves, and yet it serves as the perfect articulation of the larger than life mythos of the gunslinger. From the title alone, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly associates men with ideas of what men can be—heroes and villains alike are reduced to a word which they then reinforce. If westerns from Sam Peckinpah, Monte Hellman, and even late-period John Ford had been challenging the moral simplicity of the classic western, Leone’s vision is notably regressive in that regard. This is the stuff of the earliest silent movies, where character motivation can be discussed purely in terms of greed. Leone’s narrative simplicity is heightened by his radical sense of scale, which has little time for medium shots—this is a picture of extremes, where long shots and extreme close-ups are alternated back and forth. If the deserts often consume men in other westerns, in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, the men are just as ferocious and big as any force of nature—they are Gods, undeniably challenged by the surroundings but never losing themselves to anything but their own flaws.

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