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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966, It./Sp.) (aka Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo)

This western was the third and final installment in under-rated Italian director Sergio Leone's The Man with No Name epic trilogy. The stylized Western was considered a pre-quel to the two other films in the trilogy: A Fistful of Dollars (1964, It.) and For a Few Dollars More (1965, It.). As with Leone's other westerns, this film was viciously violent and machismo in tone, but buoyed by the classic, instantly-recognizable, twanging Ennio Morricone score. It had very little dialogue, lots of closeups, and vast widescreen landscapes.

This was perhaps the best-known "spaghetti western" of all-time. 'The Man with No Name' was Eastwood's star-making role, after he made appearances in the previous two films. Elements of his character could be found in his later anti-hero cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan character in Dirty Harry (1971).

The film's plot, set during the Civil War in the mid-1860s, was about a trio of ruthless, tough-guy gunslingers searching for a "cash box" of $200,000 (a shipment of stolen Confederate gold coins) hidden by a Confederate soldier named Jackson. The trunk was buried somewhere in Sad Hill cemetery at a faraway location.

All three of the main characters, basically amoral, anti-social bounty hunters, outlaws, and murderers, were forced to form an uneasy partnership or alliance, leading to the film's climactic graveyard shootout in which the opportunistic desperados found themselves facing off one last time for the fortune.

  • in the opening scenes during the first 25 minutes, the three main characters were introduced - with titles:
    • Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez, aka "the Ugly" (Eli Wallach), a hot-tempered, greedy Mexican bandit, unpredictable, funny, and stubborn
    • Sentenza "the Bad" (aka Angel Eyes) (Lee Van Cleef), a cruel, ruthless and cold-blooded killer-bounty hunter, evil-personified
    • Joe "the Good" - aka "Blondie" (Clint Eastwood) (or "The Man With No Name"), an ex-bounty hunter with a mysterious past
  • the film opened with a classic shoot-out scene involving three bounty hunters, who converged on a desolate ghost-town; they went into one of the buildings, guns blazing. Their target - Tuco ("The Ugly"), shot two of the men dead (and seriously wounded the third), burst through the front window, and escaped on horseback
  • [Note: In order to thoroughly understand the next scene, one must realize that three ex-Confederate soldiers: Baker, Jackson (who had then secretly taken the new alias name of Bill Carson) and Stevens all knew about the theft and disappearance of a "cash box" with stolen Confederate gold coins]
  • the next scene took place a few miles away, where a brutal and sadistic gunman known as "Angel Eyes" rode up - and was seen in close-up; he entered a family's hacienda, sat down and wordlessly helped himself to a prepared meal; he had been hired for $500 dollars by his employer Baker (Livio Lorenzon) to question ex-Confederate soldier Stevens (Antonio Casas) - to learn the new name of a fugitive soldier known as Jackson (who had changed his name)

"Angel Eyes" - "The Bad" (Lee Van Cleef) Demanding to Know Jackson's Alias Name

Stevens (Antonio Casas)

Angel Eyes Leaving With Two Dead Bodies on the Hacienda Floor

Baker (Livio Lorenzon)
  • Stevens reluctantly offered up Jackson's new name 'Bill Carson', and a bribe of $1,000 for Angel Eyes to kill another ex-soldier who was also involved in the theft named Baker (Livio Lorenzon), the one who had hired Angel Eyes; when Stevens drew his weapon, the gunman mercillessly killed both Stevens and his eldest son (Antoñito Ruiz); afterwards, the killer visited with the bed-ridden Baker and received $500 for getting the name and for killing Stevens - and then to fulfill Stevens' bribe, he cold-bloodedly murdered Baker by shooting him through his pillow with four gunshots after telling him: "When I'm paid, I always follow my job through"
  • in a third introductory segment, Tuco was captured by another group of three bounty hunters, but then he was rescued by a Stranger ("Blondie"), who came upon the group, with his back to the camera. With a quick draw, he blasted the three bandits; he had a distinctive look - tan trenchcoat, flat-brimmed hat, dark shirt; the fast-draw gunman then turned in Tuco for a $2,000 bounty reward, as the bandit complained while tied up and draped over a horse saddle: "You'll pay for this! I hope you end up in a graveyard with the cholera, and the rabies, and the plague! Cut me loose! Cut me loose, you filthy bastard!"
  • in the nearby town, "Blondie" collected the $2,000 bounty reward from a local sheriff; the condemned bandit Tuco (known for his alias "the Rat") was sentenced to execution by hanging (from a tree in the middle of town), for multiple crimes: murder, armed robbery, theft, arson in a state prison, perjury, bigamy, deserting his wife and children, inciting prostitution, kidnapping, extortion, receiving stolen goods, selling stolen goods, and passing counterfeit money; as Tuco was about to be executed, from a vantage point close by, "Blondie" shot the noose-rope around his neck and freed Tuco

The Stranger ("Blondie") Saving Tuco From Three More Bounty Hunters

"Blondie" Turning in Tuco for the $2,000 Bounty Reward

Tuco's Wanted Poster

Tuco Sentenced to Death by Hanging - Noose Around His Neck

Tuco On the Back of a Horse and Strung Up for Execution

Rescued by "Blondie" Firing at Tuco's Noose Rope
  • shortly later at a rendezvous point, they met - and it was revealed that the two were involved in a money-making scam; after their successful ploy when they were splitting up the reward money evenly ($1,000 to each), Tuco demanded more money: "There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: Those with a rope around their neck, and the people who have the job of doing the cutting. Listen, a neck at the end of the rope is mine. I run the risks. So the next time I want more than half"; "Blondie" disagreed with him: "If we cut down my percentage... it likely may interfere with my aim"
  • in the next scene, Tuco was again about to be hanged to death for multiple crimes (murder, assault, rape, and derailing a train during a robbery) - now with a $3,000 bounty reward received after his capture; "Angel Eyes" watched as the scam was repeated, and knew that Tuco would escape with a "protective angel" looking out for him ("A golden-haired angel watches over him"); the rescue was repeated a second time ("Blondie" shot the hanging noose around Tuco's neck), and they escaped together

The Second Rescue by "Blondie" of Tuco From Another Hanging

Riding Away Together After the Second Rescue

Blondie Broke Ties with Tuco and Stranded Him: "Such ingratitude..."
  • this time, however, "Blondie" wanted out of their partnership: ("Our partnership is untied...You remain tied. I'll keep the money, and you can have the rope"); Tuco swore at him: "You filthy, double-crossing bastard! Of all the stinking, dirty tricks...If I ever catch you, l'll rip your heart out and eat it! I'll skin you alive! I'll hang you up by your tongue....I'll kill you! I'll kill you!"; Tuco was left stranded in the desert 70 miles from town without a horse and water; as "Blondie" rode off, he bemoaned Tuco's bad attitude: "Such ingratitude, after all the times I've saved your life."
  • later Tuco sought deadly revenge for Blondie's earlier abandonment; although Tuco's planned ambush of "Blondie" in his hotel room by his outlaw gang members failed - Blondie was ready for them when he heard their spurs on the stairs; however, Tuco was able to hold Blondie at gunpoint from a back hotel window and ordered him to place a noose around his neck and stand on a stool; at that very moment, a cannon bombardment (from nearby Civil War combatants) destroyed the building and ruined Tuco's plan for retaliation
  • after a long search, Tuco finally captured Blondie and ordered him to march 100 miles across the scorching New Mexican desert; Tuco reminded the very dehydrated and sun-scorched Blondie of his earlier words to him: "Another 100 miles of beautiful sunbaked sand...What was it you told me the last time? 'If you save your breath, I feel a man like you could manage it.' And if you won't manage it, you'll die. Only slowly. Very slowly, old friend"
  • just before Tuco was about to kill Blondie, a runaway coach full of dead Confederate soldiers appeared on the horizon; inside was a dying 'Bill Carson' (Antonio Casale); in exchange for a drink of water, Carson told Tuco about a "cash box" with a fortune in Confederate gold coins that had been stashed away in Sad Hill Cemetery
  • however, Blondie (before he passed out) was able to one-up Tuco by learning the name on the grave in the vast cemetery just before Carson died [Note: The third man Angel Eyes only knew of the gold treasure, and realized he had to ally himself with Tuco and Blondie to learn where the fortune was located.]; Tuco and Blondie disguised themselves as Confederate soldiers by wearing the gray uniforms (of the dead Rebels found in the coach)
  • later, Tuco spotted a platoon of troops moving toward them: "They're gray like us. Let's say hello to them and then get going. Hurrah! Hurrah for the Confederacy! Hurrah! Down with General Grant! Hurrah for General...Lee. God is with us, because he hates the Yanks, so, Hurrah!"; Blondie quipped about Tuco's stupidity: "God's not on our side because he hates idiots, also"; as it turned out, they watched as the soldiers swatted away, with their gloves, the gray desert dust from their blue Yankee uniforms - and the two were captured and marched to a POW camp
  • Angel Eyes tracked Tuco and Blondie to the POW camp where he posed as a Union Sergeant, to search for more information about Carson; during a roll call, Tuco impersonated Carson and sparked Angel Eyes' interest; Tuco was savagely tortured during questioning, as Angel Eyes ordered a band of Confederate prisoners/musicians to play in order to drown out Tuco's screams; under pressure, Tuco revealed the name of the cemetery (Sad Hill) where the gold was buried, and that Blondie was the only one to know the name of the gravesite - and then he was sent away to be hanged; meanwhile, Angel Eyes allied himself with Blondie to recover the gold
  • while being transported by train, Tuco escaped and was trailed by Elam (Al Mulock), a one-armed bounty hunter that he had wounded in the film's opening sequence; while Tuco was taking a bath, Elam attempted to ambush him, but Tuco saved his own life by shooting from under the foamy water of his bubble-bath, and then remarked to the dead man: "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk"
  • in an uneasy alliance that was again established between Tuco and Blondie, the two set off for Sad Hill Cemetery in pursuit of Angel Eyes, when they came upon one of the Civil War skirmishes for a narrow yet strategic bridge; to clear the area, they prepared to explosively detonate the bridge to allow access to the Sad Hill cemetery held by the Union on the other side of the river; while wiring the bridge with dynamite (carried down to the river on a gurney!), they traded secrets with each other in case either one of them died - Tuco revealed the name of the cemetery (Sad Hill Cemetery), and Blondie claimed that the stolen gold coins were hidden in the grave of Arch Stanton
  • after the bridge was destroyed and the troops were dispersed, the film's most touching and compassionate moment came when Blondie was delayed in his obsessive search for gold; he covered a dying young Confederate soldier with his own duster and offered a cigarette for a final smoke; meanwhile, Tuco stole a horse and rushed to the cemetery to dig up Arch Stanton's grave, but became overwhelmed (emphasized by the revolving and spinning camera) by the hundreds of graves as he ran through the cemetery
  • in the film's climactic and most-excessive sequence, the three ruthless, gunfighting drifters met at a vast circular area in the Sad Hill Cemetery, enhanced by Ennio Morricone's score ("The Trio"), as they converged at the open gravesite of Arch Stanton and held each other at gunpoint
  • to their surprise, there was no chest or coins, but only a decomposing corpse; poncho-wearing Blondie admitted to the other two that he had lied - and then claimed that he wrote the name of the actual grave location on the underside of a rock, and placed it in the center of the vast cemetery's pavement - he said the ultimate recipient of the gold would have to "earn it"
Blondie Placing Stone With Name of Grave Location on Underside of Rock in Center of the Circular Graveyard Pavement
  • the trio then prepared for a three-way duel/showdown (a quintessential Mexican standoff), filmed with repeated detailed closeups (of guns in holsters and facial expressions with an astonishing 96 edits or cuts) played with increasing speed and frequency; each of the three gunmen took positions around the perimeter of the pavement
Eyes and Holsters: Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco
  • the scene culminated in Blondie (who had rigged the showdown) shooting to his right and gunning down Angel Eyes with two separate shots, who collapsed and died in Stanton's open grave, while Tuco who stood across the way realized he was helpless with an unloaded gun; he became incensed: "You pig! You wanted to get me killed? When'd you unload it?"; Blondie replied and informed Tuco: "Last night. You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns, and those who dig. You dig."
  • in the memorable finale, Blondie revealed that he had written nothing on the rock, and ordered Tuco to dig up the unmarked ("Unknown") grave beside Stanton's grave in the remote cemetery where the bags of Confederate gold (worth $200,000) were actually buried
  • Tuco was elated at the gold bags' discovery: ("It's money! It's all ours, Blondie!"), but then a hangman's noose loomed into view, and Tuco was ordered to place the noose around his neck, and forced to stand on a very unstable wooden grave-marking crossbar; after Blondie rode off, Tuco was ultimately rescued with Blondie's well-placed gunshot from a distance to sever the rope and drop him onto his half-share of the gold; Tuco yelled out a final insult: "Hey, Blond! You know what you are? Just a dirty son-of-a-b-!"

Tuco "The Ugly" (Eli Wallach) Bursting Through Window and Escaping on Horseback

After Tuco's First Escape and Rescue with Blondie's Help, Tuco Demanded More Than Half the Reward Money the Next Time - Blondie Refused

Tuco Seeking Revenge Against Blondie With a Forced Desert March

Tuco and Blondie Captured by Dust-Covered Yankee Soldiers

Tuco Savagely Beaten Up in Prison Camp by Angel Eyes

Tuco in a Bubble-Bath to Dead Bounty Hunter Elam: "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk!"

Wiring Dynamite to the Bridge

Explosive Destruction of a Strategic Bridge

Blondie Aiding Dying Young Man

Tuco Coming Upon the Vast Graveyard Cemetery Looking For Gravesite of Arch Stanton

Show-Down at the Grave of Arch Stanton - Only a Corpse

The Stand-Off Around the Perimeter of the Cemetery

Blondie's Gunning Down of Angel Eyes Who Fell Dead into Stanton's Open Grave

The Actual Location of the Loot In a Grave Marked "Unknown"


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