“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.