Random thoughts on the films I see

Random thoughts on the films I see
A Filmjournal.net weblog by Dave

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) - Dir: Sergio Leone

September 11th, 2006


“One bastard goes in, another one comes out.” 

Because of my DVD editing hobby, I decided to recreate the Rome Premiere cut of this film, which includes an extended version of the Tuco beating. Not only that I got rid of the awful 5.1 mix with the wrong gun sound effects and restored the mono soundtrack. I used the Italian mono soundtrack for the extended scenes with subtitles, so I wouldn’t have to listen to an ancient Eli Wallach.

I never liked the Italian extended version before, maybe because they didn’t do an original mono mix on the DVD. I have since changed my mind and prefer this version, including the Tuco grotto scene that everyone seems to dislike.

GBU was where Leone changed his style. The sometimes fast pace of the first two films was slowed down and an epicness took over. His films clearly had bigger budgets, and the quality was raised. This film is set before the other two, during the American civil war. This is also indicated when Clint finds a poncho towards the end, which he wears in the other two films. However the connection ends there.
Here Clint plays a guy with the nickname Blondie given to him by Eli Wallach who plays Tuco. Once again Clint’s character is different, he is more “good” as per the title. Tuco is the “Ugly”, a bandito who gets himself into trouble a lot. Blondie and Tuco set up a partnership going from town to town, where Blondie collects the bounty for Tuco, then rescues him from hanging. When Blondie wants to dissolve the partnership, he leaves Tuco to wander in the wilderness (he could have let him hang in the last town, had he been “bad”). Tuco is clearly pissed and hunts him down.
While this is going on Lee Van Cleef plays Angel Eyes, the “Bad”. He plays an assassin for hire, who hears of a chest of gold buried somewhere from his last victim. There’s a great scene where he goes back to the person who hired him and kills him, because his first victim paid him to, “I always follow my job through”. Angel Eyes goes on the hunt for the treasure, going from lead to lead. Lee Van Cleef is fantastically evil in this, and perfectly cast with his devil-like looks.
Tuco having almost got his revenge on Blondie by making him march through the desert with no water, comes across the guy Angel Eyes is after. Now there are three parties after the gold, Tuco knows the cemetary, and Blondie the grave. Eli Wallach is hilarious while he tries to keep the half-dead Clint alive to find out the name of the grave.

It all ends in a fantastic stand-off when they find the gold, with all three eyeing each other. This film has great rewatchability, humour, action and general bad-assness.

For a Few Dollars More (1965) - Dir: Sergio Leone

September 11th, 2006


“Any trouble, boy?”

“No, old man. Thought I was having trouble with my adding. It’s all right now”

This film has had a checkered career on DVD, the only complete version is an Italian DVD in the wrong screen ratio. The sad thing is, it was always complete on VHS (not sure about Laserdisc).
MGM released a DVD back in 1998, which missed most of the Eastwood/Van Cleef beating scene, including a dialogue scene. They then released a “restored” version on DVD as a Special Edition. This sadly was the same cut, though some beating footage was restored. Then a year later or so Paramount who had the rights in Germany released the same Special Edition version, but this time they restored most of the rest of the footage back including the missing dialogue scene.
Unfortunately….they missed an extended take of Clint entering a bar, an extended Gian Maria Volonte laugh after his escape, and some more brutal shots from the beating scene.
To cut a long story short, I took the bull by the horns and created my own DVD, using the German and Italian DVDs. Editing together a complete version for my own personal use with original mono soundtrack. This otherwise unavailable version is the one I am talking about here.

Fistful of Dollars was a fantastic new direction for the Western genre, and this “sequel” is literally ten times better. I say “sequel” in quotes, because the Man with No Name is slightly different character in this one. Clint plays bad ass bounty hunter Manco who collects bounty after bounty. Gian Maria Volonte is Indio, the leader of a bunch of bandits. I have to say Gian has a habit of stealing the show many times, his over the top portrayal of the drugged out bandito is fantastic. Indio is freed from jail by his comrades, and soon Manco is on his tail. But Clint has a rival bounty hunter after the same prey. Lee Van Cleef plays Colonel Mortimer, who has longer range gun than Clint’s. This leads to a great scene where they size each other up. Lee Van Cleef is great in this as he partners up with Clint.
What Leone does good in this film is give it more depth, it is not just a shoot-em up like the first film. There are linked histories, almost psychotic madness, and revenge going on. Morricone’s music comes into it’s own in this film, especially the tune that plays on Indio’s pocket watch.

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