The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is perhaps the most famous Spaghetti western films and, because it was directed by Italian director Sergio Leone, it is considered an Italian film. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was released in 1966 and the starring roles were interpreted by Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach. The script was written in collaboration by screenwriter duo Agenore Incrocci and Furio Scarpelli – better known as Age &Scarpelli – and Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Leone himself. The film is the last part of the famous Dollars Trilogy which included A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and For a Few Dollars More (1965). The first two movies themselves were inspired by a Japanese film directed by cinema master Akira Kurosawa. The film was entitled Yojimbo (1961) and it featured the story of a ronin (Toshiro Mifune) who arrives in a small village divided by two criminal gangs, which he puts in conflict to the villagers’ advantage.
Nevertheless, the story of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is original and it features the adventures and trials of three gunslingers who compete in finding a fortune consisting of gold and buried in a Confederate soldier cemetery. On the road to finding clues to lead them to the fortune, the three gunslingers encounter gunfights, hangings, prison camps and battles. The movie also offers a glimpse of an America torn by Civil War and makes a social commentary on the fact that those who always suffer are the little people.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly was created from the collaboration between film companies from Italy, Spain and West Germany. A great aspect of the film was the musical score, created by renowned composer Ennio Morricone, whom had also scored music for other Leone movies. The most memorable scene is represented by the moment when Eli Wallach’s character, bandit Tuco Ramirez (the Ugly) finds the Confederate cemetery and starts running around from grave to grave, in a greedy desperation, all to the music of Morricone’s song “The Ecstasy of Gold”. However, he is soon found by Blondie (Eastwood) and Angel Eyes (Van Cleef) and the final battle ensues.
When released in 1967, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly had two versions, an Italian and an American one, with the first being 16 minutes longer. While it was very criticized for the explicit violence, director Sergio Leone declared that he wanted to present an honest image of the West which was created by “violent, uncomplicated men”.