Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

(Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Italy,Germany, Spain, USA, 1966)

… and the Sweaty, and the Dusty.

I guess you had to be there. I recognize that this movie was ground-breaking. And, as often happens, most people didn’t realize it at the time. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Bonnie and Clyde, it was not well-reviewed upon release. It built its following over the years, to the point that now it’s on most Best 25 or Best 50 lists. Somehow, over all these years, I never managed to see it until now, 2015. I wonder, would I have been one of the ones who adored it when it was new, or would I have not had the new eyes needed to see its genius?

I think I might have been among the ones who thought it was way too long, and pretty pretentious in its ultra close-ups of sweating faces, with only the eyes moving. It doesn’t appeal to me today, either. In fact, I will say that the whole genre of Italian “westerns” has never appealed to me. The famous Mexican standoff at the end had me tapping my foot impatiently, not becoming breathless with excitement. My feeling today: It’s a good film, but I’ll never need to see it again.

A word about the setting. I’ll have to thank Sergio Leone for the history lesson. His gigantic sets (employing most of the Spanish army, it seems) in the desert just didn’t ring true to me as any Civil War battle I’d ever heard of. Did they really have engagements that large in west Texas and New Mexico? Turns out they did, though when the Battle of Glorieta Pass was over, that was about it for major fighting in that part of the world.