Starring: Clint Eastwood; Eli Wallach; Lee Van Cleef
Director: Sergio Leone
Rated: R (18+)
Distributor: MGM DVD
After viewing Sergio Leonie’s seminal Spaghetti Western, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, which was recently screened at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum as part of its contribution to Design Week, I’ve been developing a whole new dress sense. Ponchos, sheep skin vests, broad brimmed hats, hip hugging belts, boots and holsters have all been spotted in my wardrobe. I haven’t gone quite as far as acquiring spurs or pistols but the temptation is there, such is the allure of this infinitely stylish and dusty old flick.
Clint Eastwood in the role of Blondie, the so-called Good guy of the title, is the coolest dude this side of sunset; constantly chomping away on a slender cigar propped in the corner of his mouth. The sharpest-shooter in the west, Blondie is in cahoots with Tuco (Eli Wallach), the unfairly labelled Ugly – he’s really just a greedy old fool. It’s Angel Eyes, the Bad ass of the piece, that’s the unattractive one; sadistically beating people up to the strains of soothing music. The power play between this trio as they track down $200,000 in gold coins drives the plot along at a steady swagger accompanied by the iconic music of Ennio Morricone. The theme tune would have to be one of the most sampled musical phrases ever and has become almost a cliche for the entire genre.
Only one woman makes an appearance in the whole story, a battered whore hurled from a horse apparently after a pack rape but details are not forthcoming. Dialogue is in short supply throughout the film’s 156 minutes duration. It’s all about atmosphere and Leone piles it on by the bucket load with his trademark juxtaposition of close ups and long shots all culminating in a highly choreographed show-down between the three main men in a barren graveyard. Quentin Tarantino calls this film “cinematically perfect” and for that quintessential Western style you’d be hard pressed to find a better reference than this.