The Good, The Bad And The Ugly
I’m going to start doing these film posts in terms of genre…so for the next week I’ll be focussing on Westerns…a genre that tends to divide opinion. And where better to start than with, in my opinion, the best Western that has ever been produced.
It may be slight cliche to say that this is the best Western of all time…some would mention John Ford’s The Searchers or many other John Wayne films (Rio Bravo, True Grit, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) for example as their preferred choices within the genre…while they are great films in their own right, for me, the European influenced Spaghetti Western sub-genre is superior to the more traditional American Western films and is why I feel that GBU is the greatest ‘Western’ Film ever made.
This one doesn’t largely rely on terrific performances to be an excellent film, Gary Cooper in High Noon comes to mind, an excellent film, but without Cooper, probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as good. With GBU however, the impeccable cast just seems to add to the magnificence of the film. Clint Eastwood, now, in 1966, a big star after starring in the first two films of this trilogy is just as cool, as calm and as collected as he’s ever been. His famous stare has never been greater and more played on than in this film and he gives us some highly memorable quotes which have been recited for decades. For me, Eastwood, above The Duke, epitomises the cool guy of Westerns…his every mannerism as this character is pure anti-heroic brilliance.
He is of course, considered as ‘The Good’, whether that be the case or not.
His counterparts are equally excellent in their roles…Eli Wallach as Tuco (The Ugly) and Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes (The Bad)…both actors famous for their appearances in westerns and whose careers were clearly heavily assisted by this film…and rightly so. Van Cleef, from his opening shot, is one of the most menacing prescences I’ve ever seen on screen and Wallach is brilliant as the slightly bumbling, but no less threatening bandit who crosses and double crosses to get what he pleases.
Where the real excellence of this film is though, is in the more technical aspects. The camera and the sound. The cinematography is incredible…the heavy contrasts of huge wide shots and extreme close ups give the film a style that is key to the sub-genre…a style which I greatly admire. Ennio Morricone’s legendary score is instantly recognisable and it adds an epic and mysterious atmosphere to the film…some of the best work in history in these departments.
The filming location, mostly in Spain, also adds another layer to the quality of the film…the sets are stunning and the landscapes are both breathtaking and painstaking…there isn’t a single scene in which I can take my eye from the screen for just a second and that’s quite a feat, considering its runtime…and for the fact that it is a ‘Western’…that notoriously ‘boring’ of genres.
I feel that I’ve expressed my love for GBU long enough now and hopefully many of you agree with me, and for those who don’t (however few they may be), I’d love to hear why.
Let me know your thoughts on this film in the comments and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any inquiries or suggestions for improvements to posts!
Another Western Tomorrow