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24 February 2013

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966)

It was Bob Dorough who famously asserted the magical properties of the number 3. He wrote a song about it that featured on the pilot episode of American kids programme Schoolhouse Rock. Here's what he had to say:
"The past and the present and the future
Faith and hope and charity
The heart and the brain and the body
...give you three as a magic number"
3 mysteries to ponder!

What he fails to mention is the most famous 3 of all time... The Good, the Bad and the Ugly... or as our Italian brothers refer to it...  Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. Surely Bob was a fan of Spaghetti Westerns? How can this possibly have slipped him by? For now this will have to remain a mystery.

The Good
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the third and concluding part in what is now referred to as the "Dollars" or "Man with No Name" Trilogy. This masterpiece of cinema was released in 1966 bringing together three acting powerhouses: Clint Eastwood as Blondie ("the Good"); Lee Van Cleef as Angel Eyes ("the Bad"); and Eli Wallach as Tuco Ramirez ("the Ugly"). We are reminded that goodness, badness and ugliness are all relative concepts as the three desperadoes set off in search of hidden Confederate gold and get into all sorts of scrapes along the way.

If you've been paying attention recently, you will no doubt have realised that I’m on a bit of a Western kick. My fever is in part down to a musical collaboration that I've been working on with Daniele "El Pancho" Banchini, but it is also being fueled by my son J-Uke's growing obsession with guns, swords and... light-sabres?!?

Hang 'em High
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

On the collaboration... part two of our EP is in the works. We've recorded most of the new song and I've been busying myself producing all sorts of artwork... because quite frankly... I can’t stop myself ;-)

On J-Uke's obsession... I have taken it upon myself to start his education, to teach him the finer ways and make him a connoisseur of the Western.

Blood Red Cowboys
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

You might remember that I'd begun J-Uke's schooling process with a stuttering first step when I showed J-Uke the Magnificent Seven last year. He obviously wasn't fully ready for it and let's face it, there were 4 too many desperadoes in that flick. I needed to pare things back a bit, to get back to basics. I needed to get back to the magic 3!

You will already picked up on the fact that I love this film and you'd be spot on! Right from the wonderful opening credits you know you're in for a treat. The high contrast gritty graphics with their stark colours coupled with the haunting Ennio Morricone soundtrack expertly sets the scene for a story that is every bit as stark and crude. Watching the opening credits is like having a feast prepared before you, and this is a meal that demands you do not wash your hands before eating.

The Bad
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

I am still a bit surprised that this film is rated an 18. Yes there is some bad language and obviously killing, but actually, it really isn't that bad at all. Some of the themes are going to be a bit beyond a lot of youngsters but it's not gratuitous. In the Uke-household we started a great discussion on smoking. J-Uke picked up on the fact that Clint Eastwood is never without a cigar in his mouth and was amazed that he could do as much as he was doing being so "unhealthy". As I revealed to J-Uke: Clint is actually a non-smoker. Folk-law tells us that the taste of the cigar was the reason for his constant grimace. I don't know if I believe this, but I love director Sergio Leone's comments on Clint Eastwood's acting prowess: "I like Clint Eastwood because he has only two facial expressions: one with the hat, and one without it." Ha ha! Better not let Blondie hear you saying that!

Sun Stroke and Raicilla?
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

Another thing that puzzled J-Uke was Sergio's fantastic technique of allowing the story to simmer with silence. Take the opening scenes with Lee Van Cleef as he hunts down information on the mysterious Bill Carson. The tension is palpable as the camera lingers on the characters. Not a word is said. Not a word needs to be said. J-Uke's generation aren't used to this type of story-telling. Yes... okay... so he thinks it’s boring... but in time he will learn to love it! You mark my words!

The Ugly
The Good, The Bad & the Ugly, MGM 1996

I love all of the stars, but I'm going to single out Eli as my favourite. I won’t go as far as saying that his character Tuco is a lovable rogue, but I will say that he’s an understandable and believable rogue and this is in no small thanks to Eli.

Right, I've said all I want to say. Let's round this off. On the Triple-B, I’m going to see your magic 3 and raise you a rollicking 9... yep that's 3 + 3 + 3.


  1. I used to watch these western's of Clint's at the drive-in when I was a youngster,now there is only one drive-in left in Brisbane.
    Ah,nostalgia,it always makes me nostalgic.-)

  2. Ah yes. There's nothing quite like nostalgia for making you feel all nostalgic, longing for that happy time in the past when life was much simpler!