My take on a The Good, The Bad and The Ugly poster. For me, this is director Sergio Leone’s best work, and the culmination of everything that went into the two dollars films that preceded it. What’s really interesting about the film, is the way Clint Eastwood’s role became almost a supporting part, as Eli Wallach’s Tuco more or less dominates the dramatic landscape of the piece. Tuco is excitable, mischievous yet also quite gullible in that he basically believes everything that everyone tells him for the most part. His character, with all of it’s fallibility, ultimately has the most human qualities in a film full of larger than life caricatures.
With The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Leone also incorporates a lot of Magritte-esque surrealism into the visuals. We have these super-wide wide shots of bleak desert landscapes, populated by tiny figures, which the tight close ups depict as grotesque and almost inappropriate gargoyles. In particular the pink parasol Tuco uses in the lengthy torture sequence in the middle of the film owes a lot to the surrealist movement.
I enjoy the leisurely pace Leone adopts in unfolding the plot as well as the individual scenes themselves. We get a real sense of place out of the lengthy, sustained wide shots. Lingering on the incredibly tight close ups, more as a piece of design and portraiture, adds a lot of texture. This moody slow pace also helps the violence make more of an impression. When a shoot out occurs it’s usually over in a matter of seconds. Leone amplifies these sudden outbursts by doing a massive amount of build up. The final showdown at Sad Hill Cemetery is really the pinnacle of that kind of film making. A lesser director would have cut straight to the action. Leone turns it into an opera in which the aria’s aren’t sung, they are stared.