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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly - Two-disc special edition



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 stocked up.

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.

 

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