For those of you who like your Western’s with a bit of a “spaghetti” flavor to them, you’re in luck. Not only is one of Clint Eastwood’s classic westerns, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly available to stream, YouTube is streaming it for free.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is the definitive Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. It is the third in The Man with No Name trilogy (also known as the Dollars Trilogy) but it is ultimately considered one of the best westerns ever to be filmed, with director Sergio Leone’s amazing visuals to go along with composer Ennio Morricone’s haunting and memorable score.
In The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, as with the previous two films (A Fistful of Dollars and A Few Dollars More) Clint Eastwood was not given a name. True, in Fistful, the undertaker referred to him as “Joe” but that would be the only time a name of significance would be attributed to Eastwood’s mysterious character. In A Few Dollars More, his character was called Manco, which meant the One-armed one as he does everything but shoot left-handed. In the third movie, bad guy Tuco (Eli Wallach) refers to him as “Blondie.”
The third film finds Clint Eastwood’s “Blondie” at first working together with Tuco. Blondie would bring in Tuco to collect a bounty, then as Tuco is about to be hanged, Blondie would shoot him down from the noose. The pair would then escape, splitting the bounty. This is something they would repeat time and again, that is until Blondie is tired of Tuco’s constant whining and leaves him stranded in the desert.
Lee Van Cleef is “Angel Eyes”, a mercenary who is in search of $200,000 in stolen Confederate gold. When we first meet him, he kills the two men who hired him to help find the gold. Seems Angel Eyes is not in the sharing mood.
Meanwhile, Tuco has caught up to Blondie and forces him to march across the desert until Blondie collapses with dehydration. While Tuco is deciding what to do with Blondie, a runaway horse ambulance arrives carrying dead soldiers and a near-dead Bill Carson, whom Angel Eyes was also pursuing. For their help, Carson says he will tell them where the $200,000 is hidden. When Tuco returns with water, Carson is dead, but Blondie says Carson told him everything. Tuco now needs Blondie.
The pair work together to find the cemetery where the gold supposedly is buried. But Angel Eyes and his men are also in search of the prize. When Angel Eyes catches up to them, he tortures Tuco to get the name of the cemetery, which Tuco finally gives up. Tuco is then sent away to be killed. Knowing that Blondie won’t reveal the name of the grave where the gold is buried, Angel Eyes takes Blondie with him.
The three eventually arrive at the cemetery together but not after more bloodshed and an exploding bridge. When Blondie challenges Tuco and Angel Eyes to a three-way duel, it sets up one of the most classic draws in cinematic history. There is no end-spoiling here. This movie is classic and needs to be seen.
As mentioned, this was Clint Eastwood’s final film in the trilogy, a trilogy that was never intended to become one. The trilogy angle was conceived by the American distributor United Artists. In fact, though The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was released two years after the first movie, A Fistful of Dollars, it is considered a prequel to the movie as Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name is seen throughout the third film collecting the clothes that he’d end up wearing in the first two movies. A Few Dollars More is then considered to be the movie to follow Good based on the fact that Colonel Douglas Mortimer is a veteran of the Civil War. There is also a paper which shows the year is 1872. In A Fistful of Dollars, a gravestone is seen with the date 1873 on it.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was not met with the reverence it holds today. Critics, especially those in the United States, were growing tired of the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns and many found the movie overly violent (the movie was made in 1966) with one critic, the late Charles Champlin of the LA Times, calling the movie “The Bad, The Dull, and the Interminable.” So how did a movie reviled by many turn out to be one of the most highly thought of westerns of all time?
It could be Clint Eastwood’s presence. It could be how, over the many years, critics and fans have truly begun to appreciate Sergio Leone’s talent as a visual artist. Whatever the case may be, the movie ranks at the top of westerns and presently enjoys a 97% Rotten Tomatoes approval rating across the board. And not to sniff at, our very own Giant Freakin Robot movie score sees The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly at 9.25/10. Solid.
Sergio Leone made the picture for $1.25 million and the film, regardless of critical response, brought home $25 million at the box office. For Clint Eastwood’s part, he did some renegotiating with the studio before he accepted the role. He finally agreed to a $250,000 payday, up from the $15,000 he got for A Fistful of Dollars. He also received 10% of the North American profits but the real clincher was the Ferrari. Yes, Clint Eastwood also negotiated a Ferrari in the deal to get him to wear his iconic poncho one more time.
It would be many years before Clint Eastwood would resurrect the western after his 1976 movie The Outlaw Josie Wales. It took nine years, to be exact before Eastwood would jump back in the saddle with Pale Rider and then another seven years before he’d do it again with his Academy Award-winning Unforgiven. Clint Eastwood’s name is synonymous with Western, his Man with No Name trilogy is proof positive.
You can catch the third (though you can call it the first) film in the trilogy right here.