Clint Eastwood has been making movies for a long, long time. Several of them I saw as a kid. Then there were some I didn't, like "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," which is in theory the best one to ever bear his name. I say "in theory" because I haven't seen every movie he's ever been in, and because "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly," while an interesting film, isn't always my cup of tea.
For starters, there's the plot. I've heard it summarized as the story of three guys looking for a cache of gold, and certainly there's that element. Many of the scenes we see revolve around that, but there's a lot of other stuff going on. There's (rather pointless) commentary on the Civil War, too. Then there are a bunch of scenes that build character and are perhaps interesting on that level, but that don't really add a whole lot to the movie as a whole. They're the reason it lasts three freaking hours.
As the movie opens, some nasty looking cowboys are creeping up on a building to ambush the man inside. However, things go wrong and the nasty dudes wind up on the floor with lead in their stomachs as their quarry jumps out a window. The story switches next to some guy in his pueblo about to sit down for a meal when a stranger shows up at the door. From there, the owner of the pueblo tries to talk his uninvited guest out of killing him, but it proves a pointless endeavor and the body count is really going. Most of the movie proceeds about like that, following separate threads as three cowboys--"The Good" played by Clint Eastwood and two other guys played by no one I recognized, what with this being a spaghetti Western--are true to their names. There's lots of double crossing, a little bit of gunplay and a lot of the same main song being repeated until it is ground into your skull.
So, what does the movie have going for it? Well, the cinematography is at least interesting, though the land is barren enough that looking at it gets old after awhile. There are some unexpected funny bits, too, which keep the audience engaged in some instances where things begin to lag. The actor playing "The Ugly" provides some nice comical relief with a few funny lines, though not in an in-your-face sort of way. Clint Eastwood is also very quiet and is addressed as "Blondie" throughout most of the film. All of those things will either appeal to you or they won't, and that's where for me the movie faltered.
I guess I just like a movie with forward momentum. At three hours, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is hardly the longest movie I've ever seen, but there were times it felt like it was. That was really my biggest issue. There simply were too many scens that drug on a bit longer than they needed to, and there were some moments--even some with action--that didn't really do much of anything for the movie. I kept feeling like some careful scene cuts would've shortened things up by a half-hour and made for a much more watchable film.
As it sits now, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" is an interesting movie that most people might do best to watch in two sittings. The second half really picks up nicely and is an interesting movie, but people like me will probably find their spirits broken about halfway in. I'm glad I watched it through to its conclusion--since not doing so would've caused me to miss most of the movie's truly great scenes--but this is definitely a case where there's too much of a good thing. With a clearer focus, this could have been a truly fantastic movie. Instead, it rambles too much... sort of like this review. At least I can end the review early without missing anything, though.
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