The Good and the Ugly have a hate-hate relationship and take to leaving each other in deserts to save themselves. However, when they're given a map detailing the whereabouts of some treasure, they pull together for the trip. Unfortunately they end up in a Prisoner of War Camp with The Bad, who wants a piece of the action.
Amid the endless homages and the sheer adoration meted out to Sergio Leone's ambitious, pricier finale to his Spaghetti Western trilogy, it's easy to forget just how damn good the film is.
Of course, much has been written on the director's mission to recast the grand traditions of the Western genre in a bold, wry, Euro-sheen that both paid tribute and deconstructed everything it stood for; how he divested the cowboy genre of its pomp and added irony, hyperbole and a great deal of slithery twang. Yet his purposes were never trivial, and to see the film as simply an exercise in effervescent cool is to miss the point entirely.
Draped in anti-war sentiment, a deep-seated compassion as counter-point to its superficial amorality, this is a covert condemnation of American hypocrisy dressed in a poncho and chewing cheroots with slick indifference.
Revamped by MGM, this new version, just shy of three hours, is as close as possible to Leone's original 177-minute cut. Deemed too long to satisfy American audiences the film was reigned back to 162 mins, and circulated thus ever since.
With due reverence, Eastwood and Wallach lent their now age-worn voices to dub the reinserted scenes, which makes them simple to detect, and on the whole their initial excision never really dampened the plot. However, Leone's movies were never designed to be concise, and letting this leathery, quasi-comic-book dream roam a few more dunes in search of that cache of gold is only to be applauded.
Letting this leathery, quasi-comic-book dream roam a few more dunes in search of that cache of gold is only to be applauded.