review for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on AllMovie

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
by Lucia Bozzola review

The last and grandest film in the "Dollars" trilogy, Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966) is actually a prequel, featuring Clint Eastwood's serape-less Blondie in a search for stolen gold during the Civil War. While the titular trio's quest seems simple, Leone renders the proceedings epic through the constant intrusions of a chaotic, war-torn universe. Rather than an ideal space, Leone's widescreen desiccated western landscape is a harsh environment ruled by brutality, but, as Eastwood's ironically labeled "Good" affirms upon witnessing a fruitless military battle, state-sanctioned bloodshed is even more destructive than individual venality. Still, Blondie's dry wit and Eli Wallach's buffoonish "Ugly" inject the violence with dark humor, while Ennio Morricone's famed score alternates between stately and tongue-in-cheek. In a final shootout set in an enormous circular cemetery and composed of extreme close-ups of the three leads, Leone sends Eastwood's Man With No Name out on a properly operatic yet wry note. The "good" triumphs, but, in Leone's West, it's all relative. Greeted with critical disdain for its stylistic flourishes and sadism, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly became a hit, and Leone's artistic influence can be seen from Eastwood's directorial work to John Woo's action theatrics.