Review: Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 'Leone's West' documentary featuring
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and producer Alberto Grimaldi; 'Leone's
Style' documentary; 'The Man Who Lost the Civil War' documentary;
Audio commentary with film historian Richard Schickel; Restoring
The Good The Bad and The Ugly; The Secorro Sequence: A Reconstruction;
Extended Tuco Torture scene; 'II Maetsro' featurette about Ennio
Morricone's score; 'II Maestro Part 2' featurette offers an extended
insight into Morricone's music; French trailer (including clips
deleted from the final version); 4 Easter eggs.
SERGIO Leone's genre-defining Dollars movies reached their pinnacle
with this sprawling opera, which many considered to be a prequel
to the first two films.
It is, arguably, the director's greatest achievement - an absorbing,
morally grey exploration of men at their greediest, driven by
their own need for survival and very little else.
Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach and Lee Van Cleef star as the three
desperadoes of the title, all of whom have their eyes set on recovering
200,000 dollars, buried in an unknown cemetery, during the height
of the American Civil War.
The hero figure, of course, is Eastwood's enigmatic, poncho-wearing
loner, The Man With No Name, who reluctantly enlists the help
of Wallach's bumbling thief (because each knows a different piece
of the puzzle).
But they must both cope with the unwanted attentions of Cleef's
army veteran, who will stop at nothing to make himself rich.
This extended version of the film (or director's cut) puts back
the footage that distributor, United Artist, chopped into (for
fear of it bombing) and makes it an altogether more richly satisfying
experience, which feels like Leone's intended vision.
It doesn't bring anything new, of course, but the music is so
memorable, the performances so crisp, the set-pieces so note-worthy
and the humour so spot-on, that viewers won't realise, due to
the fun they will be having.
Eastwood and Wallach have even contributed fresh lines to some
of the new scenes, which had only previously existed in Italian
- a ploy which makes proceedings feel all the more worthwhile.
And while the special edition extras don't really offer any telling
insights into the whole Leone persona, or the subsequent fall-out
he experienced with Eastwood when the actor refused to return
to provide a cameo for Once Upon A Time in the West, there are
enough nuggets to keep western fans, and Eastwood fans, suitably
Facts to be gleaned include the revelation that Eastwood supplied
most of his own wardrobe, including the gunbelt he wore in Rawhide,
due to budget contraints, and the fact that Wallach did no research
for the scene in which he assembles his own custom-made gun -
having been instructed by Leone to simply do what he thought best.
Most telling of all, however, is the revelation that Eastwood
isn't necessarily playing the same character in each of the three
movies - as The Man With No Name was merely a marketing concept.
The fact that his wardrobe remained the same, throughout, was
more to do with the budget, again.
In terms of western mythology, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
remains one third of Eastwood's essential trilogy, which is book-ended
by Unforgiven, and made up with
The Outlaw Josey Wales.
It is a masterpiece which has shown no signs of aging, and a
glorious reminder of a directing talent who was responsible for
some of the great movies of days gone by.